The Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has resolved to allows its ministers freedom to choose to marry two people, regardless of gender, or not. I welcome and celebrate this decision. I spoke for this decision.
And yet this decision was hard. Many people have been significantly hurt along the way. Many people have felt their voices choked in a church they thought offered them a space to belong.
I welcome this decision. But I also feel deeply for people who have been hurt, and may continue to be hurt, in their ministry, in their congregations, and in themselves, because of this issue. I felt the pain of people who have been trying to keep their communities alive, and have struggled as they have seen them whither and die. Communities that people love, that people belong to; communities that have shaped and formed people. There is considerable anxiety around this decision, and how it will play out.
I continue to celebrate that this decision affirms that the Uniting Church seeks to be a renewal movement across denominations; and not simply a new denomination made from three dying ones. The Uniting Church aims to be a body that holds together, in a strange way, what often function as ecumenical partners, within the one Church.
The Uniting Church believes that the renewal of the Church comes from the active and ongoing mission of Jesus of Nazareth, the risen crucified one. It is Jesus as the centre, who draws us in, changes our hearts by the power of the Spirit, and holds us together in our differences.
The Uniting Church holds onto this core identity about Jesus. And it seeks to set aside other identities, individual, communal, ecclesial, and even theological. Because all of these are human responses to the living God, and must always be renewed by that God who still lives.
I welcome and celebrate this decision. I celebrate the bravery of people that committed to the work of discernment on behalf of the Church, and will continue to do so. I celebrate the people that listened, that were led in good faith to a changed view, that welcomed what was difficult.
I celebrate and welcome this decision. May it form a richer tapestry of Justice and Reconciliation for the Church, and to the World.
Lord, forgive us for our words and deeds that have not, and do not reflect you. Teach us to own the collective guilt the church has inflicted upon itself, and those outside.
Lord, lead us to reconciliation and renewal. Grant us wisdom and life.
This is a lament I shared on the floor of the Assembly:
The way of Jesus, is the way of the cross.
We are united in our baptism into this hard way. The waters of baptism not only recall the waters over which the Spirit hovered, the spring of living water Jesus offers, but also the tears we all shed as and because we are united together, in our baptism, as the body of Christ.
I want to offer a lament for these baptismal tears.
I lament that many have been led away from the church because of discussions related to this topic.
People of faith and resilience have sought to maintain their faith communities, and have yet seen them dwindle and die in the face of this issue. Many people fear this will continue to happen.
Queer bodies have felt rejected, judged, and have faced abuse from people who claim to speak for the Gospel. Many have taken their own lives.
I lament this loss and exclusion. I lament the retreat from the grace and welcome embrace of baptism. I lament that the water of baptism has turned to tears.
The way of Jesus, is the hard way of the cross.
The way of Jesus, is also the way to resurrection.