It is Sunday afternoon, and I have successfully completed my first weekend as pastor intern. Well, my first weekend assisting with services anyway. Things went well, I chanted and prayed and passed the peace and all of that. There were no glaring errors (that I am aware of), so that was a blessing.
But now I'm going to spout off... I found the website for Lutheran Churches in Mission for Christ and I am saddened. I'm sad because people disagree and the only way they can figure out how to deal with it is to break away and start their own little church. Let's take, for instance, my family. Sure members of my family have done things that I have not agreed with. They have made decisions or choices that I would not have made, and yes, these decisions affected me. They affected me greatly. But I did not decide to pack up and move on. I did not think that this current family was not my ideal family so I needed to start a new one. Of course we weren't the perfect family, and we aren't now, and we never will be. We will still make choices that hurt the others, we will still make decisions that other members don't agree with, but we will still be united as a family. I see this as a metaphor for the church (in this case the ELCA, but perhaps much broader...) Sure the church will make decisions I don't agree with and they may make choices that I would not choose... But does that mean I leave the church to start my own? Does that mean I pick and choose what I want MY church to look like and begin a church based on that? And then what happens when that church decides or chooses something that I don't agree with? Do I then splinter off, yet again, and start my own church? Or do I make a firm commitment and say "You are my church. I am a faithful and commited member. I did not like that decision that you made, and I doubt I will ever agree with it. But I will remain faithful and commited, if even at the same time voicing my dissent. I will keep speaking, even if quietly, the Gospel that I believe this church - MY church - needs to hear."
But we'll see if I stand by that viewpoint in about a year... When the ELCA votes on the issue of ordaining men and women in commited same-sex relationships, and if they vote contrary to what I believe, will I stick with what I mentioned above? Sure, it's easy to have that point of view when the church makes the choices I agree with (in the case of LCMC it would be (supposedly) the Call to Common Mission, our open communion agreement with the Episcopal church, which I see as a great step forward in ecumenism and Christian unity (I wanted to say brotherhood, but that seemed so... uninclusive, maybe?)) But if the church votes in such a way that I see as denying the humanity of a certain group of people... Will I be able, in good conscience, to stay with the church and be that still, small, persistent voice? I don't know. It pains me to think that I will have to make that choice, I would rather not be faced with it. But this issue is such a polarizing one.