Proverbs 8: 1 – 4, 22 – 31
Romans 5: 1 – 5
Wisdom Cries Out
Rev. Elizabeth Macaulay
Christ UMC, Rochester
May 22, 2016
I have found myself walking the dis-ease of feeling vulnerable these days.
My sense of vulnerability comes from the day by day awareness that we are so real, we human beings and we are so full of fear, we human beings, and we are so needful of reassurance that we matter and that we are safe and that we will be seen and known as sacred and worthy of love.
Don’t you sometimes feel the acute ache of that kind of vulnerability?
I think it is what is going on within us, and I think that kind of raw need for reassurance and respect is going on all around us.
Witness our national political spectacles playing out in both political parties.
Witness the last two weeks spent by the global United Methodist Church as they met together in Portland, Oregon for our every four years General Conference.
Brothers and sisters, the United Methodist Church came up to the brink of disintegration as a United church.
We came to that place of fracture because we human United Methodists are so real, so full of fear, so needful of reassurance that we matter and are safe and we are so needful of the reminder that we are sacred in our various ways of being and we are worthy of human and holy love.
I went to the first week of General Conference. I went because I got a scholarship from the United Methodist Alliance for Transgender Inclusion. I went as an advocate. My father was transgender. The shame of being “othered” by our culture led to a suicide attempt that weakened her heart. My father died of massive heart break at the age of 69. Too young.
And her story is not unique.
(I’d like to ask you to raise your hand if you have a friend or family member who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.)
…So I went to Portland to see how our church is able to deal with the increasing call to fully welcome all people into ministry and community life.
It turns out the church is not ready to decide that. With tensions rife in the air and perspectives so varied across our globe – African delegates have been taught by the missionaries who shared the good news of Jesus that homosexuality is an abomination – in the midst of protesting attenders, in the company of the 111 pastors from across the US who came out as gay and lesbian – a move that could cost them their credentials – in that midst the Body of Christ called United Methodists barreled up to a place where there seemed to be no solution other than dissolution.
And then the Rev. Adam Hamilton spoke from the floor. He asked that the bishops leave the session and come back with a solution. He asked the bishops to lead.
So the bishops left and met together. They prayed and wrangled and you know that they were leaning into the assurances Paul gave to the church in Rome: That God’s love would pour into their hearts and into the hearts gathered.
That through the power of Jesus Christ the power of wisdom – in the midst of community, at the crossroads of life – would speak to and through those bishops in order that we might be the people of Jesus Christ who live open doors and minds and hearts.
The bishops came back to the hopeful and fearful and they delivered the results of their deliberations. They were not all of one mind. But they spoke through their president – our bishop, Bruce Ough – words meant to forestall rupture.
What they asked is that all legislation pertaining to human sexuality be set aside for a time. They asked for a group of disciples from all regions of the globe to come together to craft a way for us to move into our future without ripping out hearts.
And of course, hearts continue to be ripped.
This waiting… the psalmist and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children of God and those of us tired of the carnage of ambiguous welcome. We together cry out:
“How long, O Lord? How long must I bear pain in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all day long” (Psalm 13: 1 – 2)
“When will the United Methodist Church claim our gay children and our transgender brothers and sisters as beloved and fine?”
In the midst of pain and in the very real possibility of fracture, the United Methodist Church is taking a long breath.
And so we pray: May this be a time during which wisdom cries out and love sustains in the midst of suffering.
On Wednesday night this past week my sore heart was treated to a time of stunning wonder.
A woman who is transgender shared her story and her wisdom at the crossroads of our town – at the public library. Ellie Krug spoke of how it is she came home to herself and claimed her need to be whole in the gender she believed God created her to live.
The room was packed. She told her story of being football player and husband and father and the ongoing sense of not right in her being until she risked all that she loved in order to be fully alive.
I wrote her a note of thanks, and included in her response to me were these words:
“We only have so much time. Often, we forget about the power of words, the force of emotions. In our time, we are being barraged by messages based on fear and mistrust. I want my message—my remaining time—to be filled with hope for the human spirit and the value of compassion for others and self. It is the right thing to do.”
Friends, Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly.
We only have so much time.
In these days when our hearts are sore worn by fear and mistrust, may we still the toxic chatter of relational and institutional violence too often filling the airwaves of this world God calls us to love.
We are so real, so full of fear, so needful of reassurance that we matter and that we are safe and sacred.
Wisdom – Jesus Christ – calls out to us in the messy middle of our lives – in the places where we long for wisdom most.
May the courage and wisdom of those seeking wisdom on behalf of United Methodist Church enable this mighty movement to fully welcome all in order that all might:
“…Find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.” (Romans 5 The Message)
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight, Brown, White, Man, Woman, African and American. May we actively seek the kind of wisdom and heart that sings God’s praise.
Out of closets and into the hope-hungry world the people of Jesus Christ will sing.