The Clinton/Trump Debate

I read a piece in the Guardian on the Trump/Clinton debate tonight. Man, they know how to promote a debate; and I don’t intend that as a compliment. It’s like reading a promotion to a heavyweight prize fight. I’m waiting to watch the Weigh In. That’d be a sight!

It didn’t make me confident that they’ll deal with anything substantive. Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Enough to leave a person resigned and cynical.

A Word About the Church

I want to say a word about the Church (capital c). It’s nothing new. I’ve read the same word about the Church since seminary. I want to say a word because I’m really grateful for what we are creating, in partnership with God, at the church I serve as a pastor.

I have regular conversations with people who want to know what our church believes on any given subject. Right now it’s usually what the church’s position is on LGBTQ people. When I was first in ministry serving a church as a pastor in Tennessee, the question was usually about the role of women in ordained ministry, including being an elder serving a local congregation. (Man, I could tell … you … stories.) Tomorrow, the question will be something else that the Church is discerning and Openly* entering into.

That’s why ministry is always fun and never gets boring.

The only way to answer that question from my perspective as a Christian pastor is to say that I don’t speak for the church on that. I’m not sure why, but it always seems to sound strange for most everyone I’m talking to when I acknowledge that. Which reveals an assumption, I think. And the assumption is the wrong starting point. Especially, if you want to have a real conversation about the Church and the community it creates.

I can tell someone what I personally believe about any number of people and issues; I often do and am overjoyed to tell them and to hear their beliefs. I can also tell someone that the people of the church I pastor hold different beliefs about those same people and issues. What causes the odd stares, though, is when I tell someone, That is, in fact, the way I want it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. And further, That is what we are intentionally creating, in partnership with God.

It isn’t neat; but it’s always interesting.

Holding together as a church when we hold different beliefs/opinions/positions is the necessary pre-requisite for community to exist. Without a diversity of theological opinions (or any other categories of opinions), community is – and I can’t overstate this – impossible.

Without a diversity of theological opinions, you can’t have a unity, you can only have a uniformity. And isn’t uniformity where we get the word uniform; that is, a group of people who wear the same uniform, maybe with a few stripes to distinguish some from others? I don’t want to look out and see everyone wearing the same “uniform”.

I want to gather at a welcome Table, made up of people who are learning to love one another as Jesus loves the Church.

*I capitalize “Open” because that is the place of the Spirit.

Houston: Not just a diverse city

The mayor (Sylvester Turner) said today in ADL’s Coalition for Mutual Respect briefing held at St. Paul’s UMC: (I paraphrase) – Houston is a diverse city, and its most important challenge is to become an inclusive city. I really appreciate that statement. I’m suddenly becoming aware of a big distinction between being diverse and being inclusive. Those are two distinct things. The first allows for the hope of the second. May the day come soon when Houston will be known by a statement like, “Houston is a diverse city, but more importantly, it’s an inclusive city.” Amen.