Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking It All to Heart...

Sometimes I wonder why I bother to read the news or check out online opinion articles from certain affinity groups that associate themselves with the PCUSA. In my attempts to stay informed about what is going on in the world around me, as well as my commitment to do my best to listen to voices on all sides of the issues that face the church, I find that there are easy days and hard days. Today is NOT one of the easy days. It seems that - with the exception of the news that BP may have finally capped the oil leak in the Gulf - most everything that I have read today has been written to throw daggers at, well, folks like me. It isn't easy to NOT take it all to heart...

First, I read about the latest revision to the Vatican's in-house rules. The revision of these rules came about to address the various "sex scandal" issues that the Roman Catholic Church has struggled with in recent months/years. But, the Vatican - in all its "wisdom" - also made a rather startling addition to their in-house rules regarding the attempted ordination of women. Any attempt to ordain a woman is now considered to be a "grave crime", which happens to have the same set of punishments as those named for sex abuse! A "grave crime"??? Any woman who feels God's call to share the Good News of the Gospel and offer the Sacraments in the name of Christ is guilty of a "grave crime"? The Devil must be having a wonderful laugh with this one, as the Church continues to deny the movement of the Spirit in the name of "holiness"! I was ordained almost 5 years ago as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the PCUSA, and I must admit that it is difficult not to take this announcement from the Vatican to heart. I was called to this ministry - it isn't a game, it isn't "just a job", and it isn't some sort of political statement. I wonder what this pronouncement by the Vatican is going to do to inter-faith and inter-denominational relations. The church that is directly next door to the church I serve is a Roman Catholic Church. I pray that this latest bit of "goodness" from Rome will not hinder our ability to do ministry together.

Second, I read some of the opinion pieces and letters to the editor that were posted on The Layman Online. The vast majority of them were all commenting on the 219th General Assembly of the PCUSA. Now, I could go into how much I disagree with their assessment of the Assembly's decisions on various issues, but I will save that for another time. What really struck me today was the ever-present assumption that folks like me (people who don't agree with The Layman or PFR and the like) don't study Scripture, don't value the Lordship of Christ, and don't practice prayerful discernment of the will of God.

Hmm...how can I put this...? THAT COULDN'T BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!!! (Phew! I feel a little better. Sorry for yelling.)

I DO study the Scriptures. And I don't just read one English translation and then claim full and complete knowledge of what God is speaking in a particular text. I do my utmost to read Scripture in ways that are faithful to our denomination's statements from 1982 & 1983: Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture and Biblical Authority and Interpretation.

I DO value the Lordship of Jesus the Christ. In fact, I depend on it. Jesus Christ is Head of the Church and Lord of all. Not the Scriptures. Not the Church. Not my understanding of God - and not the understanding of God belonging to anyone else, either... Only Christ.

I DO practice prayerful discernment. I find it fascinating that people on all sides of the many issues that we wrestle with as a Church seem so ready, willing, and able to point at "them" and claim that "they" aren't praying or seeking to discern the will of God. What is the basis for these claims - the fact that we don't agree? Considering that NONE of us have God's vision (to claim that we do is idolatrous and delusional, at best), what on earth makes us think that we can rightly judge who is in conversation with God or not? Personally, I am getting very tired of my fellows in the Church who claim (whenever a decision doesn't go their way) that clearly God's will is being ignored or denied. Could it be that maybe - just maybe - God is trying to tell you something when you don't get your way? I seem to recall there being a prayer that asks God "Thy will be done", not "My will be done"...

I am wrestling with trying to not take these things to heart....

1 comment:

RFamHere said...

Close-mindedness of many Christians is what is driving today's youth away from the Church. Love and acceptance is what will keep them. Thank you, Amy, for being true to your calling.