I try not to get too caught up in political correctness or anything political, really. Oh, I have my opinions about things, but I see my task as a minister in helping the people in my congregation come to their own understanding about what God would have them do about things like Divestment in Israel/Palestine, Keystone XL, Homosexuality and Biblical interpretation.
It’s not my place to tell people what to think, but rather to invite them to explore God’s Word, to listen to others in the church and outside the church, and most importantly - to pray. The United Church of Canada has recently published its “Federal Election Kit 2015.”
I’m not trying to be wishy washy, it’s just that in our faith tradition (called liberal Protestantism) we have been handed a treasury of resources in order to build up our knowledge of God and the world. But the work must be done by the individual. We have to do our own heavy lifting. We have to engage the Gospel in our context. We can’t rely on ministers, priests, popes, pundits to do our thinking for us.
and that’s tough slogging! And it means that in our congregations we have people who worship the very same God but with very different political, environmental, moral and theological perspectives. Which can be confusing - and nearly impossible to get consensus - but it’s never boring!
Some look at us in the United Church and see a “Tower of Babel” like problem. Everyone is speaking their own language and no one is listening. And, sure, it can look like that.But I like to think that looking at us in the United Church is like Pentecost, where in spite of all those languages it’s the Holy Spirit that makes us hear one thing: Jesus.
I was at the annual regional meeting of the United Church a few weeks ago. I met up with a minister I knew who had just celebrated his first anniversary of ordination. He’s a really nice guy and from what he was telling me, his ministry in his rural church is going like gangbusters. I mention him because he is gay and I know that there are many people who might be uncomfortable with this. But from what he told me, the people in his church just seem to love him.
Oh, there are a few who don’t quite get it. But then again there are some in our church who don’t get why some people drive Fords instead of Chrysler products. What my friend was telling me was that his people saw him not as a political statement - but as a wonderful and loving minister, and his partner as someone deserving of pies! My friend and I both harumphed that it was partners and spouses who got pies, and not the hard working, meek and mild ministers who work 25 hours a day, 8 days a week. Harumph.
So. Important issues. We have yet to really find ourselves in the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and how we need to move into a better future with our Native sisters and brothers. And you can bet that issues such as Euthanasia and Abortion are going to become hot-button topics. Then there’s the Ontario Sex Education act. And just because the price of gas has scared away investors at the Oil Sands, it will come up again. What do you think? Why do you think what you think? Should everyone think what you think?
The wonderful thing about our system of doing church is that we can support one another as family members in the church - and completely think the other is off their rocker when it comes to social justice! And it’s okay to disagree. It’s not disloyalty. It’s not that anyone is right or wrong. We love each other and we love the world God has bless us with.
So make up your mind. But use your Bible, and your ears. And most importantly, like that rural congregation when confronted with a gay minister - love your neighbours as you would wish to be loved. That is more important than any position you might have on which car to drive, which party to vote for, or whether the minister should keep growing his hair long!