These are my thoughts only as I try to cope with the current CLE situation, not an attempt to sway anyone. The polarization and anger that dominate our political, national, and even family life impact church life of all traditions. It is easier to blame and exclude than to accompany and welcome. If we’re open to the Spirit, we respond to Her and don’t let that happen. She brings us together, and doesn’t keep us apart. If I choose to stand apart and fight, even cause more hurt, and not seek to be one in the Spirit, that’s on me. I don’t want that. Been there in that sort of thing, still have the scars. I don’t want to go back.
Is the vineyard in the Parable a symbol for my own person, and the Landowner a symbol for Jesus calling me to look at myself. Am I the son who says “Yes”, but later decides I don’t want to go there? Or am I the son who says “No”, but later decides I want to be open to what Jesus is calling me to do? If I’m the second son I’ll come to realize that this is about the Spirit in my life, not about other people and what they’re doing or not doing. It’s a personal thing, but never private.
Will I be open to seeing everything in my life as God calling me to grow? Without judging or complaining about others and what they have done, can I see God right here with me in it all? Am I ready to experience that “God protects me from nothing but sustains me in everything”? Can I move toward believing or even knowing that I am being created in the image of a God who loves me as I am, and can I thank God for who I am? Can I see this day, as it is with everything that is happening, as a gift from God? Can I let God become ever more real to me, perhaps be an experience? Can I move from blaming others for what is hurtful and wrong to seeing my dealing with it as response to grace? Can I move away from seeing myself as a victim and instead see myself as God’s presence in all this? Can I live my relationship with God and with Jesus, saying “We got this” and really mean it? Can I let God be real to me? Am I willing to take stock of myself, to ask to see my life as the Spirit does? Am I willing to trust in God and me far enough to take a step while having no idea where I’ll end up? Can I come to experience that I am never alone? Can I choose to spend a regular time with God in a prayer practice, a real necessity?
Can I move toward accepting that others on all sides of the issue are, like me, created images of God who loves them as they are, that God loves every one of us specially and uniquely? This does not mean tolerating or accepting what others have done or are doing, but it does mean letting the Spirit lead me to I don’t know where. How much am I willing to trust? This is no easy matter. Trust is hard, especially when I have been hurt. But when I take the chance and begin to trust and ask God’s help, the sense of release and peace is worth what led up to it. This I know from my own experience. I also know now that pain sucks, but didn’t know it then until I was seeing it in the rear view mirror. Looking back I realized that my hurt caused me to constantly blame others for everything and inflict my pain on others.This was a shield to protect me from really knowing and accepting my pain, but it prevents any real healing. Nothing was ever my fault, so I didn’t have to deal with pain. True healing takes place beyond blame and is a process of grace, and much of this grace happened painfully for me in and through friends of all ages, and especially in Donnie, my life saving Yellow Lab. It took a while and is still happening. Grace is full of surprises, and very real. And, there is no room for violence of any kind, verbal or otherwise. Important to remember this.
For any lasting good to come from all this we need mutual support and open communication. Mutual support. For us to support each other, we have to be there for each other, but for us to be there for each other each of us has to be there for ourself first. We have to look at some potentially unpleasant things: why am I angry over this, and since anger is a reaction to hurt, specifically why do I hurt, where do I hurt? Without this our anger will remain because we aren’t facing our hurt, but giving it more power over us. Why we hurt is not easy to find, but we need to do it, let the Spirit lead us. Our support with and for each other has to be real and authentic, because if it is even a well meaning act, it will cause yet more pain. We can’t do all this by ourselves, we need each other. Communication. It’s easier to talk about than talk with. For us to have open communication on all sides we have to live our belief that every one of us is an image of God and reflects God in a way that no one else can, and trust in the Spirit. Whether the other parties do is the Spirit’s problem. Above all we need to be ready to be surprised and not give up.
What happens to us is not as important as how we choose to deal with it. Grace is real, but we need to let go of our sense of wanting to feel safe and in power, and with God in our life, living our “we got this”, because we really do “got this”. It’s about us, not the people doing whatever is causing the pain. Grace is real, but for us to know that, it takes trust, and maybe a kick or two. With God in our life, our suffering is redemptive. Good happens. Healing is a journey, a process.
“The vision of a Church capable of radical inclusion, shared belonging, and deep hospitality according to the teachings of Jesus is at the heart of the synodal process: Instead of behaving like gatekeepers trying to exclude others from the table, we need to do more to make sure that people know that everyone can find a place and a home here.” (“Enlarge the Space of your Tent,” Working Document for the Synod). Our role is to support each other, focusing on this and not on blaming. This means honestly listening, sometimes just being present. Everyone in our life has both the right and the need to be in our life because we need each other’s gifts. We are called to live the Gospel values. Whether or not others do so is not our problem. The focus is on me and how I respond. As a community we support each other, especially pastors and other community leaders who are taking big risks as they try to help their people and communities recognize Jesus moving along them. They are targets of opportunity for the self-appointed “morality police” and their “courageous” anonymous complaints. Just sayin . . .