Friday, May 16, 2014

why marriage matters

I want to share this here because I really came into a deeper awareness of the why marriage does matter whether you are gay or straight.

Audrey and Miranda were legally married October and next weekend we are having a big friend and family celebration in Glasgow Kentucky (Miranda's home town).  When Audrey came out to me 10 years ago, I never imagined that she would actually be able to be married and enjoy the same kind of wedding experience that her sisters had.
well, it is going to happen - it will be just like theirs - a family reunion, a kind of stressful event and a joy and great memory.  for many reasons marriage matters.
Here is what I wrote

Why Should the Church Care About Marriage?

“Marriage is an ongoing lesson in how God loves us.” Jenny Hicks, member of Karl Road Christian church.


In my 25 plus years of ministry I have performed many, many, weddings as a Christian minister.  Sometimes for family members, often for  church members and occasionally for strangers who came to me through friends.

I have this joke about how – like many ministers I know – I prefer doing funerals to weddings – because the people know that they need God at a funeral and they stay dead. (funny huh?)

Anyway, part of my context in officiating at weddings is that I am a minister who has been through marriage and divorce and remarriage. I know the challenge  of marriage and have been with people as they decided to marry and also as they decided to divorce.

And so, of course, the church needs to care about marriage.  We need to be a support and guide for every part of our lives – as  we continue to grow and learn about the mystery and challenge of a life committed to another person.   We  need wisdom and maturity to  learn about ourselves and  we need God’s grace to give and receive forgiveness.  There are so many ways in which the church needs to care about marriage.  In a world in which people are more and more deciding to delay and delete marriage – the church should care.

But I think the question by GLAD is – why should the church care about marriage for everyone?  Why should the church care that marriage is available to all people in the congregation – not just heterosexual people?

I posed this question to our diversity team.   In answering, we learned  how very easy it is  for people who can get married to dismiss the importance of marriage for  those  who cannot get married. We take for granted the privilege of filing  joint  taxes , adopting children and rights  in medical emergencies. But there is more.

Heterosexual couples have the opportunity and the privilege of making a lifetime commitment to one another publicly, spiritually and legally.  There has been an enormous change culturally over the last 25 years as people routinely co-habit  before marriage. They live together, buy homes, and enjoy most of what we used to call the “benefits” of marriage. In many ways, I think this has made the commitment of  marriage more meaningful.  My observation is that the moment when they are declared husband and wife is  often highly emotional.  The couple  is  now pledging before God and friends and according to the laws of the state that they are committed to each other  and responsible for each other in a whole new way.  Often we say words like “through sickness and through health, through success and failure….” The marriage vows are powerful promises.

There is something very different about being married than living together.  The escape hatch is closed and we are stuck working it out.  I still remember hearing Scott Peck say that the most important part of marriage is “the friction.”  Part of what keeps us together through the friction is the binding contract that is marriage.

One person on our team called marriage a “commitment and promise to work together toward a common future.”    In most weddings I will say  “ Marriage is created by God and is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and his church.” Maybe this is a also  a glimpse of the commitment that God has toward  each of us that we call “faith” and maybe this is the most important part of why the church cares about marriage.  It is one way in which we live out the intimate relationship that we have with God.  I agree with Jenny Hicks who said, “Marriage is an ongoing lesson in how God loves us.”

  And as we sat around the table talking about this, I could not see how we can  deny the  opportunity to marry to the LGBT community.  I wonder if there  was a time that churches had positions on whether or not interracial marriage was acceptable and whether or not divorced people could remarry in the church. How easy it must have been to ignore those issues because they didn’t affect us personally.

So now in 2014, the church needs to care about all  people of God.

We cannot pretend that it doesn’t matter. 

Living Faith

Yesterday I went to the Living Faith awards as I have every year since 2004. It is always an inspiring morning and this year was no exception.

Last year these awards began to be sponsored by the Spirituality Network instead of the Columbus Metropolitan Area Church Council and because of my ties to this organization I have found it to be even more meaningful.

to quote the booklet: The Living Faith Awards honor individuals who create a more hopeful, peaceful, and faithful world. Recipients of those awards are those laypersons who exemplify dynamic faith in their lives, those whose faith is both "lived" and "alive" in ways that inspire, challenge, and serve. Honorees embody any or all of the following values
- peacemaking
- tending to the 'least of these"
- caring for creation
- loving neighbor AND self

And so, like Monday night I found myself in the company of people that I greatly admire as they seek to pay attention to the leadings of the spirit to work to make this world better.

there was a keynote by a Don and Nancy Kelley, sharing their faith stories through 60 years of marriage, raising a family and working in the community through the Catholic church. 8 individuals were recognized for various ministries.

Some of the highlights for me:
- every person spoke truly humbly about being recognized.
- one person said: "ugliness is everywhere because life is unfair but beauty is out there" and I was struck by how called we are to see and create beauty in this world.
- another person whose life had been devoted to ministry with youth said - "each one teach one" and that really spoke to me.
- someone else spoke of her own terrible childhood of abuse and gave herself as an example of the fact that the cycle of abuse and devastation can be broken. She has been involved in the "women to women" program that has touched so many people's lives and changed them.
- some one else said that this recognition was "re-cognition" - a knowing again that God is presenting loving and shaping us and that we need to stay connected to God, to Jesus, and to spirit.

As I write this, I confess that I am a person who never misses the Oscars and the emmy's because I love awards shows. This was so special and so spiritual. There was no corporation behind this event, no branding, no selling, no money raising.
this was people of faith re - cognizing the power and call of God in all of our lives and the beauty of a life of self giving.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BREAD Rises!

Last night was the Nehemiah Action meeting for the BREAD organization. BREAD is comprised of about 50 different congregations who represent different faith traditions but come together to work for justice in our city.
Every year we identify one issue that will be studied. This year the issue was mental health.

At the Nehemiah Action we come together to meet with community leaders that have the power to respond to whatever solution has been found to address the problem. Of course, justice issues are always complicated and layered and the research team has come to some understanding of the scope of the problem and one way that we can work together to make something happen.

There were probably 3000 people who attended the Nehemiah Action and we hear reports about what has been accomplished over the year and also there is a time in which city officials come to make a commitment in response. Over the years I have learned that usually we do not get a clear "YES" from everyone but I also have learned that justice takes time and that this is just part of a process that will lead to change. And change happen slowly.

For me, what is most important probably is hearing about issues that affect those who have no voice. Last night touched on three of them.

1. Student in Columbus Public Schools - we continue to work with schools through supporting the Key truancy program. We have helped the schools to identify and stop the practice of suspending students out of school for truancy.

2. Immigrants - we are supporting the idea of the city of Columbus accepting the ID from the Mexian Consulate as they do in Dayton and Chicago. When immigrants have no ID there are safety concerns for them as they will not report crimes against themselves. It is also very costly for police time.

3. The Mentally Ill - this was the issue of this year and I learned that on in 4 live with mental illness. We have a need for increased care so that people do not get into that place of crisis. One of the suggestions was that we adopt a model from Cleveland - of a "Clubhouse." They said that a year at the clubhouse cost the same as 2 days in the hospital for a mentally ill person.

Anyway, BREAD is an organization that forces me to keep learning about the lives of people who often are in the shadows. They often have no advocate. It is inspiring to come together with people who are trying to do something to make it better. One of the speakers at the end said that one of our greatest weapons is imagination - to imagine another way is possible. So we work to learn, to suggest, to help people to take a step forward that might lead to a better life - like staying in school, or having an ID card, or a place of healing.

Bread Rises!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Few Thoughts

It has been a busy couple of weeks - with fun stuff like seeing the Indigo Girls with Marnie and then Cher with Audrey, Miranda, Linda (Miranda's mom) and Seth. Fun.

at the same time - a funeral in Toledo for Chuck's former brother in law, Jim. It was a small family affair but really good to be with Lisa and for Chuck to touch base with his past. We both continue to marvel at the changes in our surroundings, families and bodies. It was good.

And I have been confronted with many people who are having a really hard time. We were so looking forward to Susan and Ken's visit from Phoenix and she broke her foot the day before they were to get on the plane. Today I saw Gail Taschner with a purple eye following a fall at the food pantry and talked to Adrienne Headley on the phone after her car accident. Truly everything can change in a minute and then you are left to wait for healing. I can be very philosophical about it because it is not me - it is hard.

Finally I just wanted to share two readings from a devotional at the Spirituality Network meeting I attended today.
they REALLU spoke to me.

Leviticus 26: 9-13

I will turn my face to you, will make you fruitful and numerous, and will keep my covenant with you.

You will still be eating the previous year's harvest when the time will come to clear it out to make room for the new!

I will place my dwelling among you, and I will not reject you.

I will walk around among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people.

I ma the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt's land - who brought you out from being Egypt's slave.

I broke your bonds and made you stand up straight.

Dropping Keys

the small man
Builds cages for everyone
He Knows.
While the sage,
Who has to duck his head
When the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long.
for the