God’s Odd Choices
With Holy Week and Easter written in the Book of Life, my church, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), returns to voting on an amendment to our church constitution which, if passed, would open the way for faithful, gifted and called GLBT Presbyterians to be ordained. The results on Easter stand thus: 65 Yes, 82 No with 23 presbyteries (regional church bodies) still to vote. The decision is made when 87 presbyteries, a majority of all 173, agree.
Though the outcome of the vote is still known only to God, we are already blessed by the many voices for inclusion speaking passionately for the full embrace of GLBT people in the PCUSA. One particular observation folks across the country have made as they have discussed the amendment stands out this Easter week: how often in Scripture God calls to service those whom society has deemed undesirable.
One who comes to mind for me is Matthew, the tax collector, whose work for the Romans made him unclean and an abomination by the norms of society in Biblical times (Mt. 9.9-13, Mk. 2.13-17, Lk. 5.27-32). When the Pharisees, the religious leaders of the times, objected to Jesus calling Matthew to dine in his house, Jesus replied that he came to be with people like Matthew. And Matthew was one of the twelve disciples and, by tradition, wrote the first book of the New Testament.
But, of course, the most obvious example during Easter Week are the women who found the tomb empty after Jesus’ crucifixion (Mt. 28.1, Mk. 16.1, Lk. 24.10, Jn. 20.1) and ran to tell the disciples. Women in Biblical times were the very last people anyone would ever have expected to deliver the news our whole faith rests upon!
This story of the women at the tomb provided scriptural evidence that helped the PCUSA affirm God’s call to women to ordained leadership 50 years ago. It’s easy for us to forget that it was just 50 years ago that women too were considered an unusual choice in our church to proclaim the Word of God.
Many in the PCUSA see God’s call to GLBT faithful as just another step in following God’s custom, revealed to us in Scripture, of calling upon the outcasts – the tax collectors, the women, etc – to be vessels of God’s Word.
The day is coming soon when God’s choice of GLBT people for ordination will be no more surprising to us than Matthew or the women at the tomb. May God continue to open our eyes to this good news!