This morning, Marquand Chapel was led in a service of memory, grief, and healing for the divisions caused by bans on the ordination of queers and of women.

I am by any measure too overwhelmed to deliver more commentary that that, but the following is the script for my homily. I am tempted to wait until I can see the video and make a transcript, but I feel that it was pretty close.

I can accept the idea that I may lose this fight. But I can’t stomach the idea that they could make me afraid enough to not even try.”

I said that on my way out to YDS almost two years ago. Writing to a friend after a particularly shocking encounter with homophobia, I was filled with resolve to press for ordination in a tradition that is still struggling to come to terms with the calls to ministry of queer Christians.

And now, those words are not true. I have gotten too embroiled in the conflict to see a way out, or even a way to begin. I still have a letter to my regional committee still unsent. Despite a deep feeling of call, the unswerving support of my home church, and the care of many witnesses, I am no longer seeking a recognized ordination.

I realized that I became afraid that if I heard “no” from them for their reasons…that I wouldn’t have a church anymore, that it would be too painful, that I could lose everything.

Yet, even before any verdict, I stopped going to church at all, so I wouldn’t be reminded. I told myself I’d get a PhD instead. I told myself that it wasn’t a consolation prize.

I keep circling this altar. I know that grace calls me to respond to grace by showing grace….to answer God’s love by witnessing to God’s love for the world. And I believe that there is nowhere that is more powerfully known than in the mystical gift of the Body and the Blood.

I keep circling this altar. And I know I have choices. There are denominations that will receive me. But I cannot bring myself to leave home. Not in that way, not like that. I claim a heritage of soul freedom, the disestablished church, of country gospel, of the believer’s baptism, and the priesthood of all Christians. I’m Baptist. Perhaps an odd one. Perhaps even a queer one. But I am a Baptist. And, for me, it would be a dishonesty to simply pack up for greener ecclesiastical pastures. It would be against what I feel about my denomination, and perhaps most of all, it would ignore the grief I feel for the whole church in these days.

So I shall journey. And I shall seek. I am looking for companions, to share bread and wine. I am going north, back to Galilee, where the risen Christ promises to be. I leave in that expectation of Easter, seeking my calling anew. My heart is still heavy, and I mourn. But I leave in hope.

-sly

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