I am following the Episcopal general convention through several RSS feeds, and one of the best is through Integrity USA’s blog, “Walking with Integrity”, which provides their own YouTube video updates entitled, “IntegriTV”. Integrity USA is the LGBT advocacy group within the Episcopal Church, and their motto is “full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.”
Yet, what seems so simple, obvious, and Christ-like remains an unrealized ideal in so many settings.
An ELCA pastor friend of mine married a country gal from South Dakota whose father was the local county sheriff, and the family belonged to a Missouri Synod congregation. When the newlyweds first visited, elders within the church kindly informed the sheriff that his new son-in-law would not be welcome at the table. The sheriff and his wife did the right thing and promptly resigned their membership in the congregation they had belonged to their entire lives.
Years ago when I took graduate classes at St John’s School of Theology in Collegeville (a Benedictine Community), I was a welcome addition as a Lutheran. The students consisted of three categories a) candidates for the priesthood, b) nuns and other Catholic women, and c) miscellaneous protestants such as myself. One evening a week, the resident students invited the non residents to a meal in the dorm dining room followed by a prayer service and Eucharist. Protestants participated in the Eucharist until a couple of priest candidates objected, and with much pain on the part of most of the Catholic teachers and students, the practice ceased.
A blogpost this morning tells another tale of pain following rejection at the Lord’s Table. Blogger Sarcastic Lutheran reports an 11 am Sunday phone call:
Finally in a shaky voice, this came out: “I’m at my parent’s church….they are doing communion…..and I’m not allowed to take it.”
The blogger is the mission developer for “House for all Sinners and Saints” — “a group of folks figuring out how to be a liturgical, Christo-centric, social justice oriented, queer inclusive, incarnational, contemplative, irreverent, ancient – future church with a progressive but deeply rooted theological imagination.” She did the right thing and brought Eucharist to the young woman at the Denver airport.
The Rainbow Sash folks over in the Catholic Church seek to let the rest of their church know their pain of exclusion as LGBT persons.
When James, the brother of Jesus and leader of the church in Jerusalem, sent word to Antioch that Peter must refrain from table fellowship with unclean Gentiles, Paul understood the pain of exclusion, left in a huff, and the mission of the Apostle to the Gentiles began in earnest. History reminds us that we must ever fight the good fight, even when church leaders warn against rocking the boat.