All Heaven Broke Loose

All Heaven Broke Loose May 2, 2024

Yesterday, all heaven broke loose. Five years ago, it was all hell. The people who accused the rest of us in The United Methodist Church of not keeping our vows acted like an abusive spouse destroying the house while demanding a divorce. It was not a surprise. But yesterday, it all went away for awhile at least. Where there was pain, anger, shouting, and crying five years ago, there was song, dancing, hugging, and celebration instead.

Heaven Meets Earth

We heard the news yesterday morning while hosting a retreat for adults living with HIV/AIDS. The Strength for the Journey retreat meets beside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park – a place which early European explorers described as “close to heaven.” We celebrated with prayer and song.

What Happens Next

As a clergy person serving here this week, I ask myself what will Sunday bring? Will some people disappear? Will others who have been harmed return? The answer to the first question is “maybe.” The answer to the second is “very doubtful.” Who will come into our places of worship for the first time? There is no telling what the Spirit of God will do. So, I am leaving all of those questions here in the mountains.

Leaving Heaven for Earth

Ministry, of course, is incarnational. We work on earth as we work for the Kingdom of Heaven. The real question is what shall I as a pastor do. I will now perform same-sex weddings where ever I am able to do so. The congregations I serve may decide not to host such weddings. And that is entirely between them and God. For my part I will officiate at weddings with people I am in ministry. We may even come up to the mountains for the services.

I would not have done so on April 30th. Here is the issue of ministerial vows and covenants in practice. I took a solemn vow to uphold the rules of The United Methodist Church. A former bishop of mine said, “We can always debate rules. We cannot debate whether to obey them. I kept faithful to our covenant. I still do.

Grace in Practice

I know there will be people who will be where I once was. Early in my ministry, I was a homophobe even while acknowledging my friends who had come out to me (or been outed to me). I struggled with the issue until I realized the problem was me and my own attitude. I needed grace to get me where I am today. As a pastor, I need to extend that grace to other Christians especially those I directly serve.

There are many though who have struggled with the previous position of the church and remained faithful despite loving LGBTQIA family members. I understand the relief these members feel. Let healing and reconciliation begin.


Browse Our Archives