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Sing to the Lord a New Song

10/6

See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;

Before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth!

(Isaiah 42:9-10)

In the spring and summer of this year, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted on and then made a historical change in policy; one that allows openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members to become ordained ministers, elders and deacons.

In July, when the policy went into effect, no one knew exactly what the new world we were entering would look like. This weekend, we begin to see the joy and extraordinary gifts that our church will receive.

On Saturday, Scott Anderson, who has been waiting twenty years for this moment, will be ordained to the ministry of Teaching Elder in the PCUSA. Scott’s integrity, patience and kindness are gifts to the church.  And then on Sunday, More Light Presbyterians will host house parties in congregations and homes across the whole country, celebrating Coming Out month. These celebrations will also explore how the PCUSA can continue to spring forth with a gracious welcome for all people.

In this moment, the PCUSA joins with Christians through the ages who have found in the traditions of our faith a fresh word from God just as the prophet Isaiah foretold.

The “former things” that are coming to pass now draw us into the same experience in our time that Luke describes in the Acts of the Apostles where Peter and Paul learn “What God has made clean, you must not call profane (Acts 10:15).” How awesome it is to live in a moment where, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the same kind of shift in understanding is taking place: Many of those who formerly viewed LGBT people as outcasts now — by God’s doing — are embracing them!

All this coming out stirs me to rise up and sing a new song of thanks and praise!

And what I know for sure is that we can only move forward, together. The steadfast love and prodigious gifts of LGBT Presbyterians like Scott guarantee the opening of our eyes to the presence of LGBT people who have been among us all along. We will have a steady, joyful coming out of our LGBT members who will continue to lead the turn of the PCUSA toward the new thing God has in store for us.

All the world will see that we are Christians by our love and yearn to join in.

Peace,

Reverend Janet Edwards


7 Responses
  • Bob Patton on October 7, 2011

    It is about time we break bread together. I ran into Jamie this morning, and that reminded me that I haven’t seen you all Summer. Let me know, okay?

  • Janet Edwards on October 7, 2011

    Done with joy. Janet

  • Ted Martin on October 8, 2011

    Janet:
    This is a day of sorrow. The universal and global church has spoken prior to this day already to the PCUSA. While you may be celebrating, I am in sorrow that our brothers and sisters of the faith across the globe are severing ties with the PCUSA because of this specific act. We cannot ignore their testimony or think that they are wrong. This is a step of arrogance if we do.
    Janet: the testimony of God’s witness over the millenia does not celebrate this day.

  • Calvin on October 8, 2011

    One of the saddest days imaginable. Mr Anderson’s re-ordination codifies ungodliness and rebellion. It is not good for his soul, nor is it a good thing for the PC(USA). The PC(USA) is prideful in its step away from the church catholic, and will reap what it is sowing.

  • John Shuck on October 8, 2011

    A great day and an important step for justice not only for Scott but for all who are called to ministry. Thank you, Janet, for keeping the conversation going and for your unwavering faithfulness.

  • Jake Horner on October 8, 2011

    Janet,

    This is a day of grief. I grieve because I am complicit in the sin of the PCUSA because I am ordained to the office of ruling elder. But mostly I grieve for Scott Anderson and others like him because the church has failed to reach out to them with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but has rather foisted off on God’s precious children something much less than the profound power of Jesus Christ at work through the Holy Spirit for the glory of God the Father transforming the whole of the human person into the image of Jesus Christ.

    May God have mercy on us sinners.

  • Janet Edwards on October 8, 2011

    Dear Ted, Calvin, John and Jake,

    Thanks to you all for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us here. I trust we can all agree that today is a momentous day for the PCUSA and, indeed, for the Church Universal.

    I understand that Ted, Calvin and Jake grieve this momentousness while John and I thank God for it.

    I want to pause for a time and sit with Ted’s, Calvin’s and Jake’s sadness. I expect you know that your LGBT sisters and brothers in Christ know sadness, having suffered long and deeply from the consequences of your judgment. I was told that Westboro Baptist people were planning to picket outside the ordination service for Scott and they usually carry signs that say, “God hates fags!” We know hurt,as well, and so sit with you as you are feeling grief today.

    It makes sense that the PCUSA is among the leaders in the church and the world in expressing the Gospel of God’s grace and love for LGBT people in the face of the shunning and persecution of LGBT people that you, Ted, point out is rampant across the world and large parts of the church. Our particular charism in the Body of Christ is to be Reformed–to respond to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with the courage to see God’s will and Christ’s teaching in new ways.

    I grieve with you at the news that some other Christian fellowships are choosing to back away from the PCUSA. As I see it, what we have done in G-2.0104 is commit ourselves to the essential Presbyterian way of studying together Scripture, our tradition and our ordination vows as we discern God’s call to raise up leaders in the church. This is what John Knox Presbytery did which led to Scott’s ordination today.

    I am sure the PCUSA will continue to extent the right hand of fellowship to all our brothers and sisters across the world and I trust that our Christian faith will reestablish our comity in due time. Being together in service is what God desires of us.

    This is true for us within the PCUSA as well. I am glad all of you are engaged in our dialogue here. There is much more that could be said. Perhaps others will write in response to some of your specific comments. I am confident that your sadness will dissipate as the gifted and amazingly loving LGBT Presbyterians like Scott take up the work of ministry. That we are whole, complete, made in the image of God as we are and blessed by God with gifts for service will be clear for you and all to see. There will be no reason for weeping any more.

    The peace and comfort of Christ be always with you,

    Janet


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