Wednesday, December 15

Weekly Update: The Work of Waiting

Wait for the Lord, whose day is near.
Wait for the Lord. Be strong. Take heart.

As we wait there is preparation. Or waiting is preparation, or preparation is also a form of waiting. This is at least I think the experience of our congregation. In this advent; this time of beginnings for us as well as celebration and remembrance of the beginning that came in Jesus Christ.

We wait for God to bring those who he will bring to us. We await Larry's licensing and beginning the process of ordination in the evangelical Covenant Church, and we await Jane's ordination to the deaconate. We await the official recognition from the three denominations represented by Tripp, Jane and Larry.

All of this takes preparation Jane for her GOE's etc. Larry preparing to present the work of Reconciler to the Board of Ordered Ministry of the ECC, as a work of the Covenant.

Then there is the constitution of the church, and creating a document that can be recognized by the three denominations and giving articulation to our character as an ecumenical church. Yet, we wait for and prepare for the meaning of being such a church, that will only come in our common life together.

Waiting can be hard work! Tensions between the three denominations are showing, as we are also facing the tensions within each of our denominations over human sexuality. Our own sense as pastors as we are facing the recent tensions that have erupted most recently in the American Baptist Churches and the Windsor Report for the Anglican communion, is that this congregation is called to live into this tension as well. This means that if you are homosexual we want it to be known that you are welcome here, but if you expect that to mean that you will not find in our midst a fellow brother or sister in Christ who does not see homosexuality as part of God's plan for human sexuality, you will be disappointed. Conversely we desire to converse with those who find the only appropriate expression of human sexuality to be between a man and a woman in holy matrimony. You are also welcome here given that you understand that you will have to rub shoulders with partnered lesbians and homosexuals. This isn't comfortable, it means struggling with grace and sin and definitions and Biblical interpretation. However this is what Reconciler is about in the nuts and bolts, it just so happens that in terms of things that divide Christians this is for our time the flashpoint, the issue for which Christians are willing to walk away from other Christians. Admittedly, there are theological reasons for this, precisely why at this time we cannot afford to turn aside from those who for good reasons disagree.

Our hope though is that we can begin to encounter each other as persons seeking God, and the mind of Christ in freedom and hope, and to speak the truth in love to one another. At times that truth is hidden from our eyes. If you think you see clearly and all who do not are in deliberate sin or homophobic or heretics etc, Reconciler may not be a home for you (not that we deny sin or homophobia or heresy, but the knee-jerk reaction is as often as not inaccurate and unhelpful).

Jesus said to the Pharisees "You claim to see but are blind and are condemning. If you confessed your blindness you would see already." In this and so many areas we are blind our divisions, our quick judgments of other's who name the name of Christ, our unwillingness to hear the concerns the actualities of the other side shows us to be blind deaf and mute. May God bring to us healing, for only he can make us whole.

We are called to live in the tension of judgment, grace, truth and love. But the greatest of these (to echo Paul) is love. Reconciler is not the answer we are only seeking something beyond what is, in our coming together we await the coming of Christ and the manifestation of Christ's spotless Bride the Church, the Body of Christ, one holy catholic and apostolic. We do not know what that is in its entirety. Some of our brother's and sisters in Christ believe they know exactly where the church is and we listen asking them to explain the work of the Spirit outside the boundaries they "know" to be there, others see the spotless Bride revealed as only a future hope and we listen to them asking them to explain our longings and sense of call.

As we wait as we prepare as we live into the tensions of seeking the mind of Christ together in the midst of animosity and pain, May the Love of God, the Peace of Christ and the unity of the Holy Spirit be with you and remain with you Always.
Jane, Larry, and Tripp