The Church Body Needs Our Conversations, So “Let’s Talk!”
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body — whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.”
(1 Corinthians 12: 12-14)
A strange season has come upon us in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a time between the times.
The outcome on Amendment 10A, the revision to the Book of Order that will open ordination to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians, is certain. The requisite number of 87 presbyteries, a majority of the 173 presbyteries, have already voted Yes and the revision will go into effect on July 10, 2011.
At the same time, there are still presbyteries to vote and there are still many in the PCUSA who are confused about or oppose ordination of lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Presbyterians. There is also a great temptation to disengage, to quit the dialogue that has brought us here. An ad in the Wall Street Journal this week from the Presbyterian Lay Committee reflects this approach.
Please do not succumb to that thinking!
Now, more than ever, it is important to step up the conversation in the PCUSA.
I look to Paul’s letters in Corinthians. As Paul says, “there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”” (1 Corinthians 12: 19-21)
To be the beacon of Christ’s love that we yearn to be in the PCUSA, we need all parts of the Body. We need all to be engaged on level ground. And we cannot say to each other, “I don’t need you!”
One of the basic blessings of the coming revision to the Book of Order is that there will now be level ground for the full diversity of the body of the Church in a way that hasn’t been before. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians are now recognized as full participants in the church and in our ongoing exploration of the gospel message of Jesus’ love we are compelled to proclaim to the world. No longer will the church proclaim: “We don’t need you!”
There are those in the Presbyterian Church family, however, who voted “no” on 10A. For some of them the coming revision to the Book of Order causes much anxiety and fear. This is another reason why growing the conversation, rather than quieting it, is so important right now. That we are all full and equal participants in church deliberations, and in discerning God’s call to leaders in the PCUSA, calls us to find common ground and work together as a whole. It calls us all to not cut off our nose to spite our face. We need all!
I am not saying this will be easy — I am saying it is crucial that we do it. The dialogue in the comments section that followed my thoughts on the passing of 10A is a great example of how the conversation could go. Little is easy or comfortable there, you will see. My gratitude to everyone staying in the dialogue is sincere because I know all the comments there are honest, heartfelt and Spirit-led. I pray that you all find the courage displayed by pj, Donna, Bill and Frank to engage in conversations with other Presbyterians in this tender, waiting time.
The Holy Spirit is beckoning us into the next moment in the life of the PCUSA and we can follow best when we, every one of us, are strong and clear about where we stand – as One in the Body of Christ. The leading of the Holy Spirit will emerge from these conversations — honest, heartfelt and Spirit-led — among us all. When we do this, we are One in the Spirit. We are One in the Lord. And, as Paul says, we can “now eagerly desire the greater gifts,” that come with our being One in Christ.
So, what do we do in this time between the times while we wait for voting to be complete and the page to turn in our church? Seek out a Presbyterian who disagrees with you and say, like Scott Anderson has, “Let’s talk!”
What are your thoughts about all this?
Reverend Janet Edwards