Thursday, October 30, 2008

the need for dialogue between differing opinions

sorry it has taken me so long to get these posts up, but here we go...

so as i said before, the first sunday of two gatherings was great...exhausting but great. it reminded us of the fact that there are people who haven't heard the story of missiongathering and the expression of God's grace that we strive to be. the people who typically find out about mission in our neighborhood have seen a billboard, a rave card, an ad in glt or citybeat, or better yet have been invited by a friend. most of those people are checking us out because they have been searching for a progressive church where they might experience the healing of God's love and grace.

in bringing future of forestry in to do the music for the kick-off of our evening service, it brought people who haven't had any context for who we are - a Jesus-centered, loving church with progressive theology. that sunday also happened to be the launch of our sanctuaries (our small groups) for which there was a flier inserted in the bulletin listing the groups. as soon as i finished announcements and stepped off the stage, a young man approached me. it was his first time at mission, and was there for the band. he introduced himself, and immediately pointed at the flier and asked, "what's this all about?" he was directing my attention to the gay men's and lesbian women's sanctuaries. i said, "those are groups for gay men and lesbian women to meet together and discuss their faith journey." he immediately launched into his (what seemed rehearsed...) argument against homosexuality. this was all taking place right next to the stage in the middle of our service during our "pass the peace" (ironic?) time when we mingle and meet new people. he was still arguing with me as rich was taking the stage to start preaching. i let him know that i'd love to visit more with him after the gathering, and he then walked out, taking several friends with him, and they didn't return.

it's a shame they didn't return, because i think they could have benefited from the message that night. rich talked about the need for people of differing opinions - nations, churches, politicians - to sit together at the table of dialogue. people aren't always going to agree on everything...how boring would that be?! and granted, dialogue is difficult. yet people seem too often to take the road of rallying around those different than themselves to create a common enemy...that seems to be easier than wrestling with the possibility that your ideas could change. (i've got a whole post coming on the topic of "the other.")

what did i learn from this? information in print doesn't communicate the same thing to everyone if everyone doesn't know the story of the one printing it. i have gotten comfortable in the fact that a majority of the community/neighborhood in which i live has been exposed to the story of missiongathering. when we invite people from outside of that microcosm, we need to use the lens/filter of retelling our story in the midst of communicating things that are going on in our church. then maybe in the context of that story dialogue can ensue with those who differ with us. ~aroll

1 comment:

kales. said...

I was in Women's Studies today, and apart from our usual repetative banter, we stumbled upon the issue of Prop 8. There is one guy in our entire class, and he's gay. For the first time, everyone in the class had something to say...one girl raised her hand and said that her church accepts gay people, and that they don't believe they can judge those who sin, just like they don't judge the liar, or thief, etc. She said they were voting "Yes on Prop 8" because they believed that they should be happy with being accepted, rather than picky. The guy (I don't know his name) raised his hand and said, "Not making a personal attack towards you, and I know you meant well, but do you know what it's like to be told that you're a sinner but you'll 'pardon' me for it'? So many times in my life someone has made the comment, "Love the sinner, hate the sin." I would rather be called a fucking faggot anyday, rather than a liar or a thief who is 'forgiven' and not 'judged' by man. I grew up in a religious background, but because I'm gay, I'm not considered equal to my siblings or the rest of my family, and for that I purposefully will never marry in a church. I still believe in my faith, but only to a certain degree--there is no church that has accepted me or anyone I know who is gay and Christian without telling us to change who we were eventually down the line, and tell us that we were wrong and it was all in our head." The conversation went on, the majority of the class voting No on 8 thankfully, and before I could say anything, another girl started talking. "There is one church who I saw advertising on campus that seemed pretty open to all that. I mean, they didn't say any political stance but they seemed really accepting." *ding ding ding* The gay guy (for lack of a better name) said, "Yeah, the orange ones? But chances are, the second you walk in that door, there will be smiles and 'hey how are you?'s' and then once they get to know you, they tell you you're going to hell unless you change, but they'll love you anyways." My hand shot up, and I knew that the second my professor nodded for me to share, our story of grace has so much farther to reach, and so many more lives to touch, and so many more messages to be told to spread our movement...but a thousand questions and answers (it felt like anyways) and a bright orange rave card and "open your eyes" sticker later, a life is changed. No matter what happens on Tuesday, we will still be advocates and agents of hope and above all...reckless LOVE. Sometimes I forget how rad we are. :)