My heart is filled with joy today. It’s not a complete, total joy, but it is pretty darn close. This week our national church voted to approve same-sex blessings—a big step on the way to full equality for all who gather at the table. I have long believed that all sacraments should be made open to those who are called to receive them—be it baptism or holy orders, communion or marriage. Obviously, not all who are baptized will be called to holy orders nor will all who receive communion be called to marriage. Yet sacraments should never be withheld from someone because of their sex or race or gender identity or age or class or a host of other factors. I am so pleased that this week our church voted not only to approve the blessing of same-sex unions but also to end discrimination against transgendered people.
As you all well know, these steps were long in the making and are part of a long train of steps our church has taken over time to bring all the baptized to full inclusion at the table, in the pulpit and in the governing bodies of the church. It’s a process that began long ago with married clergy, was extended to clergy of color and later, diocese by diocese, to laity of color on governing councils. (A long-time member of St. Michael’s was the first African-American woman to serve on the Standing Committee in the Diocese of Georgia.) Along the way divorced clergy were welcomed as were women and, in the last twenty years, openly lesbian and gay clergy. Each step along the way has come about through the work of the Spirit and the sacrifices of the faithful. Each of these steps has met strong opposition and has left some hard feelings on the part of those who opposed the new developments.
One of the challenges a life in Christ presents is continuing to make space at the table for those who would exclude others—particularly when you are one of the others “they” would exclude. It’s tempting to shake the dust off your shoes and move on. But when I look at the whole arc of the Gospel, I don’t see a lot of dust. I don’t hear Jesus saying, “Enough of you.” I hear him challenging Pharisees and scribes, I hear him indicting injustice wherever he encounters it, but I don’t hear him or see him creating a community where people are excluded—not even Pharisees or scribes. The invitation to come to the table, the opportunity to join in building the reign of God is always open.
In this moment of celebration, I think of the many same-sex long-term relationships in our little worshipping community. I give thanks for the love and commitment, the patience and humor, the love of God and God in one another that courses through these relationships. I am so glad and grateful that our church can now bless the relationships that have blessed us.