Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It's unreal, incomprehensible, how devastating this "mess-up" is to the Gulf region, to the environment and all its residents, to the U.S., to the economy. Oops. No, oops is appropriate for a misguided weather forecast, a minor blunder in a political speech, a piece of machinery that failed at a less consequential task but is repairable. Oops is offensive in a mistake of this proportion. Maybe no one at BP has uttered the word blatantly, but it has felt like the tone from the beginning of the spill. People are human and we're all going to make mistakes, but I'll be honest, I want BP to pay. For the loss of life, for the way they and other corporations like them and governments (especially ours) have raped the earth. It makes me mad and it breaks my heart. As humans, we really need to take care of what we've been given. If we cannot deal with the consequences of our mistakes, we should not be playing such casual games with the environment. Obviously we cannot take on the ocean and win. Obviously all our technologies and advancements fall dismally short right there. For how does one repair a potential crack in the ocean floor...?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I'm reading an excellent book, unChristian, an honest and thought-provoking synthesis of research based on what the generation of young people in America (who are outside the Church) thinks of Christianity. I highly recommend this book to any believer who loves and follows Christ. It contains perspectives that, while sometimes quite painful (whether or not they are entirely "accurate" or fair), we desperately need to listen to, validate and evaluate. One of the chapters addresses their perceptions of Christians' attitudes toward homosexuals. From my reading of this chapter, and from my own journey of wrestling with the complexities of the issue of homosexuality, I have written this letter. At the end, I have also included an excerpt I loved from the chapter on homosexuality, written by a pastor in Georgia.

To the gay community in Seattle,

For quite some time now, I've felt I owe you an apology. It's both personal and on behalf of the faith community I belong to - the Church. As a whole, we have not loved you. In fact, we have failed miserably. We have too often been offensively in your face about moral behavior, or we have uncomfortably and with cowardice hidden or skirted from the topic of sexuality. We have not admitted our own sexual brokenness or confusion, or our own imperfections and inconsistencies. We have targeted you as a special group of sinners, forgetting to acknowledge the truth: that we all have sin that leaves us broken and at the mercy of a gracious and compassionate God; that no sin is greater than another in God's estimation; that only He can redeem us and make us whole. In doing so, I know we have caused a rift known as "us" and "you," and sadly, perhaps between you and your perception of Jesus. We have caused many in your community great pain in our exclusion and judgment.

Please forgive me, forgive us, dear community of people that God loves, for our failure to love you fully. For all our actions that have alienated, berated, humiliated, disrespected, and in some awful cases, actually hated you, please forgive us. I believe our actions toward you have also deeply pained the heart of Christ, for they have misrepresented his heart to you.

I do believe, however, that in order for our love toward you to be sincere, we as followers of Christ must begin with a foundation of honesty and humility. We can't affirm what you hold to be a central part of your identity - your sexuality. As far as we can tell, the Bible introduces us to one kind of sexual union, between a man and a woman. So we do believe that this is the course that leads to the fullest life, the life intended for us by the Creator. But we also want you to know, not only with our words but largely with our actions, that we believe God loves every person deeply and equally - homosexual, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual. It would be dishonest for us to pretend that we agree with or understand the path you believe is right, but we accept that you are free to choose your own life course. We believe this because of God's outrageous generosity and charity, not our own.

From this place of honesty, we want you to feel that you are valued and respected by us, as the precious human beings that you are. This is what you deserve from us. We want to learn how to have real conversations, real relationships, real partnerships with you. We want to serve you. Over time, we hope to, in turn, earn your trust and respect. We understand we will have to work for this, that we need to be willing to hang in there for the long haul. We know we don't deserve it, but we really need your patience and grace with us, too, because we aren't perfect and we're still going to make mistakes along the way. But we want you to see a true expression of God's heart and of the life of faith He envisioned us to live as followers of Christ. This will take time, but I pray we'll be committed to the path of love.

Thank you for being willing to read this.


The fracture in our soul

During the Alexandrian plague (third Century), Christians risked their lives in caring for the sick, taking a posture of grace that said, "I am here for you. I may die, but you will not be alone." The church embodied the gospel and its message was not forgotten.

In the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic hit the gay community. Otherwise healthy men were dying and nobody knew why. The only link seemed to be their sexuality. The church had opportunity to again speak grace and instead spewed venom. Rather than showing compassion, we self-righteously proclaimed God's judgment. The message came through loud and clear.

It was the wrong message.

And it has not been forgotten.

When Greg, who is gay, discovered I was a pastor, his demeanor changed. His wounds had history. After a few minutes of hyperbolic invective, I stopped him. "Tell you what, you don't assume I'm a gay-hating bigot, and I won't assume you're a pedophile. Deal? If we buy into stereotypes, we'll never be able to love one another."

Tears streamed down his face. He asked, "Are you sure you're a Christian?"

Now there were tears of my own.

Christians may say, "Love the sinner; hate the sin," but Greg and many other homosexuals hear, "God hates fags." Its's unfortunate. It's wrong. It's our fault.
It may look different from person to person, but sin has fractured every human soul (see Rom. 3:23; 5:12; 1 John 1:10). Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn said, "The line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being." It is time we lived and loved as though we really believed that.
At our church we regularly say, "As Christians, none of us have the freedom to live however we want. Man or woman, young or old, gay or straight - we are all under God's authority and called to conform our lives to Christ."

The Bible is clear: homosexual practice is inconsistent with Christian discipleship. But there is not special judgment for homosexuals, and there is not special righteousness for heterosexuals. For all of us, our only hope for the fracture of our soul is the cross of Christ.

~ Shane Wheeler (taken from unChristian)

Let us learn to walk truly in the way of Christ's love.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


“I also am other than what I imagine myself to be.
To know this is forgiveness.”
~ Simone Weil

Imagination. It's something I had in abundance as a kid. I lived my daily life in a continually unfolding, adventurous drama - a screenplay in my mind - where I was the writer, producer, director and lead actress. A touch of childish narcissism, yes, but also the heart of a compassionate girl who dreamed of doing something special, something brave and meaningful, with her life. I didn't know what that would be, so I created scenarios in my imagination and I acted them out, hoping someday I would find my way into a real life adventure.

It's sad how often "growing up" means you have the imagination sucked right out of you. Idealism is traded in for realism, dreams for practicality, and imagination for intellectualism. The imaginative ones are relegated to professions we deem as the Arts, to social or business entrepreneurs, to the few in the public eye whom we admire as visionary leaders in some specific realm. We check our imagination at the door and let others do the creative thinking.

I do see imagination making a fair comeback in my generation and the ones behind me. I see young people seeking creative solutions to the unique dilemmas our world faces today. I see kids and young adults less satisfied with the status quo, wanting to be part of a story bigger than themselves, daring to dream bigger. And inwardly, I cheer.

I even see little seedlings of imagination sprouting up in the field of the Church. They may not be prevalent yet, but they are there, quietly spreading in beautiful splendor. In my imagination, I see a Church who has broken off from other lovers and is committed to Jesus with a steady, lovesick devotion. I see a Church whose heart is tender in compassion and gentleness, fierce in love and purity, gracious and humble within and outside the walls of church buildings. I see a Church who can place their fingers on the pulse of the culture, connecting with the life of the world around them, while themselves emanating back the heartbeat of Christ. I see a Church who cares more about the poor and unpopular and offensive and marginalized than they do about buildings and programs and projects and positions and church services. I see a Church who is outrageously generous, content with much and content with little, sharing whatever they have with anyone in need.

I see a Church who actually believes they are who Jesus says they are and who live from that place of revelation and freedom. I see a Church who lives and loves with extravagant sacrifice. I see a Church who is honest and real about their imperfections, not seeking to cover their flaws with superficiality or pride, letting people see them as works in progress. I see a Church who is known, not for what they stand against, but for who and how they love. I see a Church who is not afraid to be uncool, who stand faithfully and intelligently on the truth of God's word, who know how to communicate this truth undefensively, with actions more than words, but with words when necessary. I see a Church with people of all colors, shapes and sizes, living in unity and community, not always uniformity. I see a Church that has possessed a vision of the kingdom of heaven and lives with this vision in their hearts at all times.

Yes, in my imagination, I see all this. In my heart, I yearn for it. In my experience, sometimes, I taste it. But there is more, much more. We may not be there yet, but must not lose our imagination. To lose our imagination is to perish, and the world needs for us to be fully alive.