Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Praying for the Bishop

During our conference meeting on Saturday, the Synod representative asked us to pray for the Bishop. I wish I could say that I was a good enough prayer person that I could say that of course I always pray for church leaders. But I often have trouble remembering to pray for the people outside of my immediate circle--well, heck, if I'm admitting the truth, I often have trouble remembering to pray for those close to me. But for a few days, at least, I've been remembering to pray for the Bishop.

Our Synod has at least 4 churches who are considering leaving the ELCA (the larger denominational body), and our Synod representative told us that the Bishop is really taking it hard and working hard towards reconciliation.

I found myself surprised to hear this. I admit that my thoughts weren't very Christian ones when I heard that these churches were thinking of leaving: well, good, don't let the screen door hit your bigoted butt on the way out of our inclusive door.

Those thoughts are one of the many reasons why I am not the Bishop.

These churches are deeply upset over the recent vote at the Churchwide Assembly, and I confess I'm having trouble understanding the upset. The church didn't mandate that every church must call pastors who are gays and lesbians. Churches are allowed to decide that they will never do that. But some churches will, and gays and lesbians who are in lifelong, committed relationships will not lose their ordination, and they no longer have to live a duplicitous life so that they can have both their relationship and their job. The churchwide body left room for disagreement. You don't have to approve of this lifestyle. You don't even have to support it by calling those pastors.

Some from the other side have criticized this wishy-washy approach to social justice. However, I rather admire this attempt to live in the tension of not being sure how to handle this divisive issue.

LutheranChik has a great post where she attempts to understand all this "anguish" that people say they are feeling. I understand feeling anguish over battered Haiti. This issue of people's private sex lives in committed relationships doesn't seem anguish worthy to me.

Of course, I'm younger than the people feeling so upset that they'd leave the church. I'm younger, and I've known a lot of gays and lesbians, both in committed relationships and those committed to promiscuity--sort of like the heterosexual people I've known. Gays and lesbians just don't seem that different. And I've lived long enough to realize that sexual desire is a pretty fluid thing. Any of us might wake up one day to find ourselves in love with our best friends of the same gender. Or of a different gender. Or we might find ourselves desiring someone who never would have interested us before. Or we might just wish we had that extra time to get more sleep.

So I will pray for the Bishop, both our Synod bishop and the bishop of the larger ELCA. I will pray for these churches who are contemplating leaving. I'll pray for all those Lutherans who are thinking of creating yet another Lutheran denomination--will they go back to using an older hymnbook too? And my snarky comments lead me to think that I should pray for myself, that I should pray to have the open heart that it takes to listen to people who are feeling an anguish that I cannot understand.

3 comments:

Ann said...

Hello, from a fellow member of a Florida-Bahamas Synod congregation, and thanks for this post.

Until I joined the church that I belong to now, I also had never considered praying for the bishop...my church, though, prays for the leaders of the synod and the national church by name every week. It seemed natural to include them in my own prayers as well. (Incidentally, we also pray for the congregations that are considering leaving/have left by name each week...)

Oh, and a number of ELCA congregations in the area where I was raised (rural eastern South Dakota) still use the old "green" hymn book, while a number of the older parishioners speak fondly of the red book that preceded that one!

Kristin said...

Thanks for coming by!

I know of a few folks who speak fondly of the pre-red book. I am so impressed with the cranberry book that it's hard for me to understand the love of the old hymnals. Well, I understand the love, but not the desire to still use them. The cranberry hymnal has so many more resources!

lisa said...

I found myself surprised to hear this. I admit that my thoughts weren't very Christian ones when I heard that these churches were thinking of leaving: well, good, don't let the screen door hit your bigoted butt on the way out of our inclusive door.

Those thoughts are one of the many reasons why I am not the Bishop.


My thoughts exactly! Thank you. Have been trying to learn from, and grow into, the idea of "Bound Conscience." I am in awe of the the respectful way Bishop Hanson has guided the church through all this.