Sunday, August 12, 2007

Toddlin' town

Greetings, earthlings. I feel as if I'm talking from Mars, or possibly Andromeda, but it's really only Suburubia. My trip to Chicago was seriously dislocating, in the simultaneous senses of "What in tarnation am I doing living in Suburubia when I could be looking at the Bean every day in Millennium Park?" and "I've been up since four and the only thing I've eaten today is a cheese danish."

Even though I am a fond believer in attachment to place, it can be good to be dislocated once in a while, as long as it doesn’t lead to a sugar coma. I have a feeling the questions that came up for me in Chicago will remain with me for a while.

I have to be a little careful, because having my heart broken by a failed relationship slops over a little too easily into the separate issue of having my heart broken by my church. People whom I love and whose opinions I trust believe that the Lutheran church has made a leap forward by encouraging bishops to refrain from or show restraint in disciplining rostered leaders who are in a mutual, chaste, and faithful same-gender relationship, and so I am trying to feel heartened. But I fear that, while the resolution will certainly give quarter to those bishops willing to hear the living Word in the proclamations of LGBT pastors and others, it will not similarly "encourage" bishops elsewhere. In other words, the resolution seems to me to institutionalize the same inequalities that led to the removal of Pr. Bradley Schmeling. And as a candidate for rostered leadership in the church, it is painful to be told continuously "We need gifted and qualified leadership! We need it now! We need it a lot! But not from you, or you, or you."

I have come a long way on my discernment road. I am no longer afraid that someone can take my vocation away from me. But as someone who hears a call, not to Word and Sacrament but to Word and Service in diaconal ministry, it is beginning to seem likely, perhaps even desirable, that I answer that call through means other than a consecrated relationship with the Church. That’s tragic in one sense, but as an ECP pastor and good friend of mine once said, "I answered God’s call; it’s not my fault that the church didn’t stay on the line."

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