Sunday, October 15, 2006

Ministry Outside the Pulpit and Angst In Me

Today yielded blessings. Besides being New Member Sunday (so I am now "officially" a member of St P--bring on the offering envelopes), I met some really nice people at the reception after worship. Best was an older lady who, I noticed in the course of your basic ordinary "Hi, I'm new and delighted to be a member" conversation, was wearing a PFLAG logo on a necklace. I asked her about it and was blessed with meeting a new friend! (Now I wish I could remember her name--argghhh!) Turns out she was instrumental in getting St P to be open and affirming 8 years ago and establishing a local chapter of PFLAG. We clicked immediately and start jabbering about getting together to exchange strategies for making the place even more welcoming and affirming. Very cool. Very, very cool. Kingdom of God stuff.

I'm continuing to try to "get a read" on Pastor M. Great gal, but there seem to be walls or something. (My Stephen Minister commented that M has "very tightly drawn boundaires.") Not that M isn't perfectly pleasant and all that. I guess after that great and instant rapport I had with my last pastor at the Church of the Implosion, I had hoped for the same with Pr M. She is far and away the best preacher I have ever heard, and she cares deeply about inclusion, but I feel like she's kind of distant or something. Maybe because right now she is the sole pastor for a church with 3 services on Sunday, average attendance of 265, membership in the 400's. Could that be? I like her a lot but I just feel like she thinks I'm needy, or dorky or a dufus or something--probably the first since I met with her solo twice in the first two months I was there. Is that too much?? I have emailed her a couple times--mostly with thoughts; but she had already said she is usually too swamped to answer emails unless there's a critical need. I think this may be true since she did answer when I emailed about a health crisis my partner's mom had.

I don't want to have an "emotional temperature check" pattern going with her here, and I don't want to come across as needy or neurotic. (Although I probably am.) I want to come across as intelligent, affable, and adult. Help!

She is off for the next two weeks and my partner and I are on vacation this week, so nothing is going to happen at this point, but I'd love your feedback, including those of you who are ordained and can give some perspective on this from the pastor's chair. Thanks!

October 13 Friday five: Comforts

Friday Five: Creature Comforts

1. Comfort beverage
Icy cold Coke or C2, chamomile tea

2. Comfort chair
corner of the couch near the window where dog can perch on my head and look out the window

3. Comfort read
Laurie Colwin's books on cooking, Erma Bombeck

4. Comfort television/DVD/music
Vicar of Dibley, A Christmas Story, Adam's Rib, MythBusters

5. Comfort companion(s)
My partner, my Yorkie Jake

Monday, October 09, 2006

Totally Disillusioned

Hello Blogreaders--

This morning I sent this email to Pastor M. Unfortunately, I haven't received a response. Don't know if it's because she's busy (like all other pastors) or just doing the usual thing of not responding to most emails (which frustrates me), or both. Anyway, here's what I wrote:

Dear Pastor, I'm having a tough time trying to reconcile my sense of call vs. the ELCA's policy on partnered gays. (Trying to be careful to use only "I statements" here.) You know, it's like gay people are being thrown a tidbit: "Here. You can be one of us, but only some of you. Sorry about the rest of you. That's life." I keep wondering if my originally planned course of going through all the prep for Associate in Ministry, Deacon, Pastor (whatever) and then standing outside the locked gate and passively waiting isn't a form of (pardon the expression--not sure what else to use)Uncle Tom-ism. Would it be better to work hard toward getting the ELCA to change its policy and/or doing some sort of ecclesiastical disobedience, as opposed to caving in, compromising one's principles, and going quietly into that good night? It's hard to believe that the ELCA, et al, will go so far and then dig in their heels against further inclusion due to what--fear of losing members, of being too radical?? To paraphrase Rhett Butler, "Frankly, my dear, it stinks."
I think one of the reasons I historically back away from pursuing a true sense of call is that I always hit this wall of exclusion, and the spiritual and emotional pain is devastating. I am greatly struggling with disillusionment and exclusion right now. I don't feel that Jesus excludes me/us, but it sure seems that the Church does. I start wondering if things like hunger strikes would work. (Yeah, right.) Frankly, I don't know what would work, short of a real miracle. But there is still injustice out there in an ugly form, and I don't know what to do about it, personally or as a follower of Jesus. And, at this point, my friend, I no longer feel it's just about me. (Quelle surprise . . .); this shouldn't be allowed to happen to anyone in the same life situation. It's just wrong. Help . . .

So there's what's on my mind these days. I find it truly offensive that the ELCA can pride itself on being justice-seeking, reforming, inclusive, etc., etc., and still banish any partnered gay (lgbt) person. This is not justice. This is blatant discrimination. This is being afraid to be Christlike for fear the synods and congregations could lose members and--most importantly--MONEY. It's always about money when you get down to it.

I know that some people might encourage people like me to leave the ELCA and go to a more liberal church (UCC, UU, etc.) if I don't like it. That's not just. That's discrimination. That's dodging the issue.

I find my anger is getting to me more and more. I wish I could get some time with Pr M to talk about it, but I feel like I can't take up her time unless it's something "real." I mean, I probably will never go to seminary anyway given my debt load, work schedule, etc., so some people might ask "What's the big deal? Shut up and sit down." But that, too, skirts the issue: just because I may never get to be ordained due to life circumstances and bad choices, doesn't justify closing the door to all other partnered gay people who are being called by God to rostered ministry.

It hurts. It hurts a hell of a lot.

I am considering some sort of "ecclesiastical disobedience" Perhaps no longer taking communion, but getting a blessing instead. Would that mean anything? Would anyone care?

Or should I just say "screw it" and bail out of organized religion altogether? Maybe non-church people are more accepting of gays anyway.