Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Drawing a circle to bring us all in

Here is a great sermon from a priest in Mississippi.

As I read it, I wondered how many priests in Fort Worth would have the courage to stand in the pulpit and say this. Sadly, I can think of only three.

Here's an excerpt:

Forty-six years ago this week (August 28, 1963), Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest orators and leaders of the twentieth century delivered his “I Have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. His words inspire me to this day. I also have a dream: a dream about full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life, ministry and worship of the churches I serve and the Episcopal churches in Mississippi.

Why am I moved to state my dream now? Our bishop, Duncan Gray, is on record as stating that exclusionary practices toward ordination of homosexual persons will not change during his episcopacy. There are no changes on the horizon, unless the Holy Spirit moves us, as a church, to change. I felt the call to share my hopes and dreams about the full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church before, but I kept waiting until “the time was right.”

The immediate catalyst for this vision arrived at the Fourth Annual Retreat of Ministry with Gays and Lesbians in Canton, Mississippi, this weekend. The retreat leader, The Rev. Dr. Ruthanna Hooke, opened our session by assuring us that we are all in “a safe place.” I realized through comments made by gays and lesbians in attendance that there were many places where they did not feel safe. I thought, “that’s what the church should be: a safe place, where all can experience the love of God with peace and acceptance. That’s what the churches in Belzoni (St.Thomas) and Rolling Fork (Chapel of the Cross) are, ‘safe places’ where all are welcome.”
My dream emerges from personal experience and deeply held beliefs, which I will set forth. I realize, however, that others have experiences and beliefs which differ from mine, so I share this dream to invite conversations in the quest for Christ’s love in the midst of disagreement and dissent.

I want to establish the perspective on inclusion of gays and lesbians through a poem by Edwin Markham* (see endnote):

He drew a circle that shut me out—
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

Again, go here to read it all.

Note that his bishop has stated that exclusionary practices toward gays and lesbians will continue under his episcopacy. That alone would be enough to cow most priests into silence on the topic. It certainly would around here, because even though we have made great progress in this diocese on inclusion, talk of full inclusion for our LGBT brothers and sisters in Christ remains the third-rail of the church here for many clergy.

Sermons like this give one hope that things can and will change.


Sherry said...

An absolutely beautiful sermon. One that all should read or hear.

Leonard said...

It´s hard sometimes to simply do and say the things that may impact ones employment/income source (especially these days/daze) in a negative seems clear to me this priest is not of the codependent, feardriven variety and puts TRUST and HONOR where TRUST and HONOR belong...always a huge risk when the ¨stakes¨ are high.