Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who can get in the pulpit?

Who can get in the pulpit?
That's a question meaty enough
to start a debate,
or a new church,

or as we Presbyterian's do it,
a new denomination,

or as some currently in the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
want to do,

an island
where some churches
don't have to
"deal" with current issues of justice.

Can a black man climb into the pulpit?

That question shook the church to her foundation.
Along the journey
the Bible was lifted up to justify slavery in America.

There is no specific condemnation of slavery
found in the Bible it was once said.

Exodus 21:20-21 depicts
"God" as claiming slavery as just part of life
it was pointed out at one time.

And Matthew 24: 45-46 states:
Blessed is that slave whom his master
will find at work when he arrives.

And yet, our country
along with much of our theology


Theologians and preachers and church leaders

opened the Bible
with new insight

with new perspective
and read these very passages
but this time
claiming slavery and racism
inappropriate and wrong.

Though we continue to wrestle
with the reality of racism
laws have changed
and slavery and segregation are no longer legal.

Can women climb into the pulpit?
That question shook the church
to her foundation...

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
is the remaining Presbyterian body
after a number of splits
who claim the ordination of women
as a faithful response.

In order to affirm this belief
the Bible was opened
and read and studied
with new eyes and hearts.

Cultural and historical concepts were studied.
Why did Paul say what he said about women?
Do his words apply to all churches throughout time?

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should
remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak.
I Cor. 14

Yet, many women now fill our pulpits
because the church had
and faith to listen
and change.

Can a gay man or woman climb into the pulpit?

This is the question of the day...

and again one that is shaking
the foundations of the church.

the Bible is being held up high
condemn homosexuals and deny
God's willingness and joy of calling
such people to the ministry.

Can a gay man or woman climb into the pulpit?
Some say they will leave the church if this happens.

I'm sure that is so.

Many left when the church turned the corner
and condemned racism.

Many left when women began climbing into the pulpit.

Many will leave when gay men and women
are finally acknowledged
as people loved and called by God.

"It's not the same issue
voices continue to say."

But... the words sound awfully familiar
the fear seems strangely similar

and the threats....

well the threats
won't kill the church...
they didn't then and they won't now.

I've decided not to be like those in the past
who did not stand up for justice
concerning issues of racism and sexism.

Fifty years from now
I want to be known for what I did about what I believe.
I don't want to be caught on an island of isolation
refusing to deal with the issues of justice
concerning gay
children of God.

1 comment:

Jack Thompson said...

An open and practicing homosexual cannot, of course, according to Scripture, fill a pulpit, anymore than any other person, enaging in open and notorious sin, can.

Next question.

Jack Thompson, Miami