Forgiving God (A Prayer)

God, sometimes I wonder

If you stand for weak apologies,

or how you stand them at all…

The “I’m sorry if your feelings were hurt”

or the half-hearted apologies that blame…

other things like mental illness or pills or bad sleep…

or anything…

(I call these non apologies what do you call them God?)

and I also wonder…

and how you view our funding for guns and military complexes

while children are hungry in the street

How do we quickly fund war-things

and let people die of plague and hunger and homelessness

I know you are a forgiving God…

but I also wonder if we take that too much for granted

If that is why Jesus looked at Jerusalem

and cried.

But then I think of how Jesus

washed Judas’s feet,

and lovingly forewarned Peter of his

thrice, THRICE ill-timed denial.

And I think,

Only you Christ, know

that somehow,

we humans can still change.

Even when we humans

Might give up on humanity.

You don’t

Well, you and Dr. Who.

So I’ll hold onto that,

With my pinky fingers–

even when I lose grasp

and my hands no longer want to fold

in prayers

and words of forgiveness

do not come from my lips.

I’ll rely on your forgiveness,

instead of mine

and work on the pinky

finger’s worth of prayer

instead.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

#PCUSA Overture for #lbgqt

I am writing in support of the overture to apologize to the lbgqt community (this is what you would say if you were at a meeting about this overture). I am in full support because I believe it to be more about safety & the lives of my lbqt family on the line.

(Also I am not representing my church or my Presbytery of Albany since I have not been authorized to make a statement on either behalf. A widely publicized opposing view is here)

Particularly I am thinking about my sister–who is trans and feels unsafe every time she uses the bathroom…or goes to church…or does a million other things. I am thinking of the fact that she lost a trans underclassman to suicide in the last couple of weeks. I will be speaking form the perspective of those who are trans because they are the least of these, within the least of these…the vulnerable in the midst of an already vulnerable community (esp. transgendered people of color, who my sister is not, but I am thinking of theirintersectionality issues of bigotry).  23 transgendered people were murdered in 2015 according to http://www.thetaskforce.org/stop-trans-murders/.

People’s lives are in danger and the church helped to perpetuate that danger. We have a responsibility.

I’m thinking of all those who are still receiving hurt, especially by way of the damaging legislation which started in North Carolina, and is being varied upon throughout the country in MS, GA, MI and TN.

Why not apologize?

  1. I have heard arguments about it being a breach of trust with those who have an conscientious objection to homosexual relationships.
  2. I have also heard it will cause turmoil on the floor; raising the hopes and dreams of our lbqt family only to crush them.

 

First is this apology a breach of trust?

 

My Presbytery proposed the following rationale to be added should we have supported the overture, clearly stating the intention to bring forth transparency not to “point the finger”

“Albany Presbytery acknowledges that the language in this overture may be perceived to single out specific groups within the denomination for criticisms. However, we believe the entire denomination, across all theological perspectives, should be invited into making amends. We would expect the General Assembly to address these perceptions as they deliberate action upon this overture.

“Furthermore, we concur with this overture as a first step in our pledge to work for an even deeper, denomination-wide, opportunity for healing and reconciliation across all theological and political lines, beyond the scope of this overture (up to and including the possibility of requesting a diverse church-wide task force on healing and reconciliation) and invite the General Assembly to join us in that pledge.

More importantly to the first point: Are we saying we did not hurt lbqt people? or Are we saying that they are not worthy of apology? Are we valuing the feelings of those who might disagree with us more than the rampant homelessness, depression, suicides & murder within the queer community? What are we afraid of, truly….

If the issue is hurt feelings of some that we work with vs. lives on the line for a marginalized people, I know where I stand. Its with justice.

As to the 2nd part, we might as well give up and go home now. You are afraid of raising the queer community’s hopes to crash them? Too late, we’ve been doing this for the last 40-50 years. I’ve got news they can take it. I’d rather speak to real hope of someday healing and reconciling than not speaking of the Dream that I have that someday all people can be counted by the content of their character rather than the orientation of their sexual and gender identities (what if Rev. Dr. King refused to raise hopes needlessly?)

A third, more quiet argument I’ve heard is that we can’t force an apology out of some of us who don’t believe it.

I agree.

But we have to start the hard work somewhere, we have to believe in healing. We have to hope. If we can’t hope, then I don’t know what God it is we are following. I hope for reconciliation between all of God’s people, I hope for a love that passes all understanding, I hope for the day when the Kingdom of God allows us to feast together.

If we don’t chose reconciliation it will because we value “being nice” over truth. I cannot help that this move is one that is made from our own privilege…we can wait on the apology because it doesn’t suit us yet…

I can’t believe that any move towards healing is a breach of trust…

And I say this as a pastor of a church that is slowly making its way towards understanding what true welcome of all people mean. I’ve done the hard work, and I know it is worth it. However, healing has to start somewhere, and I would prefer for us to discuss it at the national level, now, when so many are being hurt by US legislation.

That is why I am in favor of the apology overture.

PS: Love is a revolution, take a listen here http://thirtysecondsorless.net/revolution/

 

#Forgiveness and #Debt

Matthew 18:21-35

Genesis 50: 15-21

It would happen that the week I’m preaching on forgiveness (thank you God & lectionary), a bully from Jr. High would ask to friend me. (He used to tell me to shut up whenever I spoke…for like a whole entire year)

Any other week I’d say yes or no and move on

But am I a holy person or not (the answer is no, no holier than anyone else…in fact when someone comes to tell me I’m a holy person, usually its to complain about me, so I def. do not lay claim to that title)

When I posted about it on FB, the discussion turned into a “Should I friend them” discussion..harkening on the very Jr. High School Experiences I didn’t like to begin with…and were actually off point.

Here’s the deal, I’m generally not bitter about Jr. High (anymore) I went to my pastoral psych eval and realized that even though I was “over it” I was still bitter so I worked hard to reframe my bitterness (Didn’t I marry someone I met in Jr. High, so it wasn’t all bad, besides my experiences laid the groundwork for my empathy and ministry that I do today). Is that my moment to say: “Do not fear. Am I not in the place of God”

But…I wanted–something more…

Debts…I feel like this person…owed me something. The listening that is last week’s lectionary…or acknowledgement of who I am, or best yet a real and sincere apology.

What happened to the whole “all we owe each other is love” thing that I so felt and preached on last week..

Debts…

Forgiveness is about feeling a debt, which really I DON’T want to be a debtholder….I owe so many debts to so many people which I have no clue whether  I will ever pay them off…and ….I hate them…(the debts that is, not the people)

I love that my children will never starve, but I never want people to feel the horrible crushing thing that is debt in my life…I don’t want people to feel like they are less of a person because they have to think about what they owe on a regular basis…

the forgiveness of debts…the debts part of forgiveness is clearer now than ever

so…forgiveness it is….

Shannon A Thompson

Author. Speaker. Librarian.

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