Love -- the long game

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Apr 12, 2019

A few weeks ago, United Methodists from around the world met for a conference in St. Louis. The most widely covered part of the meeting was the action taken to strengthen rules against gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages, and toughen penalties for those found to be in violation.

The situation is both simple and complicated: Simple because at root it is about whether church members and officials will agree to treat others as they want to be treated -- with dignity, respect and fairness.

But complicated, because the Methodist church (like my own Anglican Communion) is a worldwide body, and values -- indeed, laws -- vary from place to place. In a country where being gay is a criminal offense, it is a very different matter for the church to welcome gay clergy and congregants than it is in the United States. And respecting one another's values and cultures is important, especially in organizations that span the globe.

Having lived through some of the Episcopal Church's struggle with these issues, I have the temerity to think I know a little about the pain many Methodists are experiencing now. The feelings of rejection, fear, despair and hurt can be nearly unbearable. The anger, the desire to take one's marbles and go elsewhere, feels urgent.

I hope lesbian, gay and transgender Methodists and their friends and allies don't leave. I hope they stay -- to be a thorn in the side of their more conservative brothers and sisters, to call them to account, to offer their prophetic witness for Jesus' gospel of love -- unbounded, unconditional, all-embracing.

This is not the same as yelling in your opponent's face, or calling her names. If those with a more inclusive vision of the church can remain, hold the tension, continue to speak their truth in love -- and I know this is not easy -- I believe they may yet help their church awaken to transformative love and make real the beloved community preached by Jesus.

No amount of arguing or proof-texting will accomplish this. Only patience, kindness, perseverance and love will. If we are to persuade others to adopt our vision, we must live that vision in such a way, with such humility and integrity, that they cannot help but be affected by it.

This is a very long game -- but it is the only way that everyone wins. May God bless the United Methodist church, and all who seek the light of Spirit.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Apr 14, 2019 16:51

"If we are to persuade others to adopt our vision, we must live that vision in such a way, with such humility and integrity, that they cannot help but be affected by it." So well said, so well said.



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 14, 2019 16:18

Well here in AZ I attend the United Methodist Church. They include all. All are welcome as it should be in a church of God! When they announced it would be an all inclusive church, a few left. Now we filled the empty pews with God loving people. Most Sundays it is a full house. On special services we add chairs for the overflow in the vestibule.  God is Love and God loves everyone!

Mary "Mickey" (Brown) McKeever



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