Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Saying Sorry

Yes, saying sorry may be enough, but we may have to say it more times than we are comfortable.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Presbyterians: Modern Day Pharisees

Today, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of the Redwoods voted to rebuke Rev. Janie Spahr for offering the same pastoral care to all couples she marries. The commission noted the ministry of compassion and justice of Rev. Spahr, recognizing the "conflicting and even contradictory rules and regulations that are against the Gospel." Part of the Book of Order describes marriage as "a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family." W-4.9001. That sentence is followed by an untrue statement, "Marriage is a civil contract between and woman and a man." While the commission recognizes that this is a cultural standard, and differs from marriage in the Bible which describes marriage as a transfer of women (plural) from one man to another.

In narrowly following the rationale of the Authoritative Interpretation on W-4.9001, they continue to perpetuate a definition of marriage that is not true in six (6) states and the District of Columbia. In doing so, they perpetuate the second class citizenship of LGBTQ church members in those jurisdictions and those states which have not yet recognized the inherent dignity and civil rights of LGBTQ person - despite PC (USA) policies elsewhere calling for the full and equal civil rights for all people. The easiest way for such equality is for federal marriage equality to be enacted.

Asking the forgiveness of the couples who testified while censuring the Minister of Word and Sacrament who has been the face of Jesus and the expression of God's kingdom to them effectively places keeping the inconsistent rules of the denomination above the pastoral care, equality, and justice of the people involved in these legal weddings. Because the GAPJC didn't address this issue directly in 2008, exonerating Rev. Spahr by saying the weddings she performed previously weren't real, legal marriages, the issue that the weddings being considered in this PJC were legal weddings remains. Ministers in these seven jurisdictions remain in the unenviable position of having to choose between following those parts of the Book of Order which compel them to offer the same pastoral care to all people, including pre-marital counseling and the performance of legal weddings, or adhering to the biases of other parts of the Book of Order mentioned above which discriminate against LGBTQ members.

I can't see Rev. Janie refraining from performing marriages in the future. What I do forsee, however, is a growing number of Ministers in the PC (USA) who will no longer participate in such discrimination, despite the potential results. I for one, will no longer do so. I won't be a Pharisee any longer. I will live out the Gospel by doing those acts that point to the full humanity of all people, including performing marriages for all those couples who will take the time to prepare for the most important partnership in their life. Only this will allow me to keep all of the ordination vows I made in July 2004 when I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the PC (USA).

I helped write and offer to you the Minneapolis Declaration of Conscience. Perhaps you are ready to sign on: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/minneapolis-declaration-of-conscience/


There was some amazing analysis on the unscriptural nature of such questions offered on the Presbyterian Outlooks Blogs. Perhaps it is time to reclaim the biblical faith and follow Jesus into challenging all of those interpretations of scripture that tell sisters and brothers to wait for the kindom of God in their midst.

tomegg's Blog on the Presbyterian Outlook:
Description:I'm currently an interim at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles. I was ordained January 27, 1970, and that seems a long time ago. I've been all over the map with the Presbyterian Church, and these days, love it more than ever, though love, if it's real, is never blind! I'm married to a lovely lady who's never been afraid to challenge me, which makes her my best friend. I have two fascinating adult children with big hearts and much skill. I am blessed for sure!


As I read today's note in the LA Times about Jane Spahr to be tried by the PCUSA, I couldn't help but think of the text for this past Sunday, Luke 13:10-17, Jesus setting a woman free from 18 years of affliction, and doing so on the Sabbath, to make a point (he and the lady could have waited 24 hours) - healing is what the Sabbath is all about.

And then the synagogue leader weighs in - scolding folks, "Hey, we've got six days for work, and if you want healing, come on those days, but the Sabbath is for rest - keep it holy - no work!"

And that's when Jesus lays into the leader and his gang, "You hypocrites. You wouldn't treat an ox or donkey this way - you lead them to water on the Sabbath, so why deny the water of life to this woman on the Sabbath? What better day is there for revealing the love of God and the freedom therein?"

While Jesus stood on the intent of the law, the leader clung to the letter of the law. And according to the law, the leader was right and Jesus was wrong.

So, here we go again, arguing about our laws.

And missing the point of the kingdom of God.

Jane Spahr is technically wrong, if that's the tact we wish to take. Jesus was wrong, too, and someone might have told him, "Wait 24 hours. Then do your healing. No one will be offended, the law will be maintained and everyone will be happy."
But Jesus didn't wait, because love and mercy and forgiveness and hope can't wait.

So ... we'll drag Jane into the mud of our own foolish little world of rules - rules that keep people bound - hungering and thirsting for a better day.

We wouldn't treat a dog this way.

But people?

Yeah, keep 'em tied up, and tie 'em up all the more with rules upon rules, until no one knows which way is up.
Sure, I am what I am - a supporter of marriage equality, comfortable with the biblical work done by Jack Rogers and others.
And I've been called an apostate, a heretic and a servant of Satan.

No one has the final word, and I surely don't claim that, but with prayer and study, I've made my decision some years ago to no longer wait, and just to keep myself honest, I continue to study and think about these things.

But I write this note with a certain conviction, that Jane Spahr is pointing the way ahead, reminding us what the church and our faith is all about - setting people free. While the charges fly and the legal briefs are prepared, the PCUSA finds itself in the uncomfortable place of the synagogue leader.

That's how I see it these days.

August 24, 2010Posted by tomegg | Sabbath, PCUSA, Ordination for GLBT persons, Jane Spahr, GLBT Concerns | Comment (2)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Minneapolis Statement of Conscience - Sign on!

1. We believe that the restrictive definition of marriage as “between a man and a woman” is binding of our pastoral discernment and unduly restricts our conscience. Such a definition does not find congruity with the established legal definitions in five U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and numerous countries in the world.

2. We recognize an individual clergy’s pastoral discernment in making decisions relating to same gender marriages according to individual congregational needs, regional law, individual conscience and Biblical conviction.

3. We recognize that restrictive language hinders our pastoral care duties to members in full standing and shackles our liberty in Christ. Such language makes us choose between the new openness we are called to (G-3.0401) and enduring unscrupulous charges made in the courts of the church. We are either a church for all people or we are not (G-4.0401-3).

4. We believe that binding our liberty in Christ in matters to which we believe the Spirit of God is directing us runs counter to our confessional and reformed heritage, which calls us to encourage covenant faithfulness and love rather than thwart it.

5. We believe that Christ’s teaching, the Pauline witness, and our confessions guide us to reject binding our consciences against actions that we find to be counter the Spirit of God.

6. We call on people of good faith to cease from using our church courts to promote schism for their definition of purity.

7. We believe that Sessions should be able to approve the use of their church buildings for all marriages, especially since they will know the people requesting services of marriage better than those in higher governing bodies. A national policy ties the hands of the local Session, and diminishes their church’s ministry of pastoral care.

8. Therefore, we cannot and will not abide by overly restrictive ecclesial/liturgical definitions of marriage continued by the 219th General Assembly out of scruples.

If you are a PC (USA) Minister, Commissioned Lay Pastor, Elder or Deacon we would invite you to sign the Declaration at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/minneapolis-declaration-of-conscience/

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Following Christ vs being a Christian

As many of you have seen recently on Facebook, author Anne Rice has quit Christianity. Can't say I blame her. Here is her statement:

"For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

Later on, she added,

"My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become."

Here is an interview Rice gave on CNN:

I almost always like Leonard Pitts, Jr.'s responses. His article on Rice is here:

Another favorite response of mine is Michael Rowe on Why Rice has never been more Christian:

Yes, perhaps the problem is Christians. Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010


If you didn't see at least one thing here in satire from your church, then you aren't looking close enough. Love it!

"Sunday's Coming" Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Four Chord Song - by the Axis of Awesome

From my friend Mitchell Sturges' blog (http://talesofatenor.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/clip-of-the-day-33/). Too good not to share.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bruce Springsteen - War

I forgot about Obama's campaign trail promise. Bring the troops home.

"I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank." - Barack Obama, 27 October 2007

Thanks to http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/1825/186/