Dart West wrote the below devotion in response to the Special Session of General Conference. Thank you, Dart, for reminding us that we must keep moving toward love.
My heart is heavy. My denomination has voted to continue its opposition to same sex marriage. Many in the church, including myself had hoped that the time had come for us to be more accepting of our LGBTQ members and clergy. It makes me sad that our denomination will not be seen by the general public as loving servants of Jesus Christ. We will be seen as being stuck in the past, irrelevant, and angry homophobes. It makes me sad that my own children, who were raised with so much love in our church will not attend because of our stance on this issue.
I have read the bible more than a few times, and I know what it says about homosexuality. I understand the position of the people who oppose a more tolerant viewpoint on this touchy subject, and they are good Christians who believe what they are doing is right. Their hearts are just as sad as mine today because of the exact same things. Both sides of this debate have valid points they can argue. Each of us has to look deep into our own hearts and decide for ourselves what is God’s will, and act accordingly.
The question I have to answer for myself is what am I going to do? My plan today is to feel sad and to pray for healing for our church, for the LGBTQ folks who are feeling rejected and unloved and for those who voted to continue our stance against same-sex marriage. Both groups have heavy hearts today, just like I do.
Had my position prevailed, then I would want those who opposed it to accept the results and continue the mission of our church, which is to spread the love of Christ throughout the world. So, my plan for tomorrow is not to get angry and leave the church I love so much, it is not to spread discontent and gossip since I did not get my way, it is not to demonize those who disagree with me. When I am confused and unsure what to do I fall back on the words of Christ, I will be thinking about the following two passages and trying my best to be obedient.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
1 Peter 4:8-11
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer for Today: Lord our hearts are heavy and our need for You is great. Please help us to move forward together, loving each other and serving You.
Dart West, Trietsch Memorial UMC