Monday, May 23, 2011

A Preamble to Adventure, or Adventure in Everything

Today I am thinking about adventure as I sit in my quiet office. Did I ever think I would be happy in this place at this time? What gives me the right to feel like I should be exactly where I want to be? So many people aren't able to. So I am aware of the need to be thankful, and continue to seek joy in the many things I can and can't control.

I am also full of questions. Can I still be passionately alive while in this quiet existence? I know that some have found a way to do so. The introspective life could be filled with activity and life in its own way. My restlessness pulls me toward seeking something new...but what? I know I am working towards a different daily path- one that lights my fire and has an impact on the lives of others. But will that make me content or will the restlessness continue? If I were able to spend each day outdoors, surrounded by the beauty that fills me heart, would that bring contentment? Or would I wrestle with self-absorption and a need to help others? Can I find something to meet both these desires or am I to instead attempt to discover if part of finding the adventure is in the longing itself...figuring out how to live each moment as prayer, as life to the fullest - whether that's typing words on a screen in a quiet building, wiping a kid's nose, or hiking in sub-zero winds?

The questions remain. They come in and out of my brain, teasing me with their constant return. And I'm not sure I want answers so much as an opportunity to live out the questions. Something is bubbling...and though I'm okay being in the dark about the final result, I am antsy to turn up the heat.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thoughts on Ammendment 10A

In the wake of the change in the PCUSA’s ordination standards, I am sure this note is just going to be one of thousands addressing personal opinions on the matter. I was a bit hesitant to add to the sea of thought, knowing that the conversation could easily turn hurtful, angry, or divisive. But as someone who sees this issue as one of social justice, and as someone directly impacted by the change in seeking a call myself, I feel the need to clarify my stance and to participate in the conversation. I also wanted to address two issues that I believe are commonly tied to this conversation. The first relates to one comment I saw on Facebook referring to those who supported the change in standards as “opponents of chastity and purity.”

While I wholeheartedly supported the change in the ordination standards, I would never consider myself an “opponent” of chastity and purity. I think this has far too often become incorrectly associated with the debate about homosexuality in the church. While the former ordination standards required “fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness,” which clearly also speak to promiscuity in heterosexual relationships, it was always seen as a “gay issue” because of our unwillingness to allow for single-sex marriage. A homosexual lifestyle gets unfairly and consistently associated with promiscuity while chastity and fidelity concerns are often quickly forgiven, or not even addressed, for heterosexuals. It is not a lack of morality that I support but consistency in its application. Shouldn’t we call for fidelity and chastity in the context of all committed, monogamous relationships?

The second issue usually revolves around fear. Many who oppose the change state fear in where it will lead. My initial response is that people fear change. And of course, we all do. But those who express this fear often define it more specifically as either a fear of a loss of morality (as addressed above) or a fear of division. The fear of division is a valid concern and I am praying for unity, continued dialogue, and reconciliation in the midst of this change. Yet while unity should be a goal of the church, caring for the poor and the oppressed should be as well. Taking a stand on divisive issues unfortunately results in division. People saw the early church as a division; a break from the law. Women’s rights caused division. Civil rights caused division. All these divisions still exist. Yet if the stands had not been taken, oppression and hatred would have a stronger hold. The church is called to speak out for the marginalized. I agree that God never intended division. But I also believe that God never intended oppression. Often, the fights that result in division begin by a specific group seeking greater unity and inclusiveness. It seems that the problem arises when some people, often those who benefit from the oppression, do not want that inclusiveness. Yet Jesus came to offer the Kingdom of God to all. All people are created in the image of God. Wishing to leave the church when the door to inclusivity is swung a bit wider makes me think of leaving a country club when “those people” (whomever they may be) are invited in. I do not believe we should not have standards for ordination in the church. But I also do not believe that the change in the standards weakens the call or will lead to an increase in immorality. I believe the change calls for something higher. Ordination standards that call for the “joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life” do not exactly open the way to an easy road. In fact, they cause me to remember that to truly serve the church, I will need to examine myself every single moment, in every single way. I will be called to examine my relationships, my speech, my purchases, etc. That is much more difficult, and yet I find it much more exciting to be part of a church that calls for such a task. So I do pray for unity. I also pray for continued change and growth. For openness to speak difficult words, and to accept that God, and love, is likely much bigger than we could ever image.