From Joe Heikman

Those of you who receive the Canadian Mennonite magazine probably saw this week the “paid supplement” from Maple View Mennonite Church (Wellesley, ON). If you haven’t seen it, it intends to be a teaching statement on that church’s view of biblical sexuality, particularly condemning same-sex relationships. The content is nothing new, more of the same arguments and scriptures that have gone around and around over the past decade and beyond.

There has been a lot of reaction to this, in congregations and on social media. There are good questions about why this was published and the implications of making theological statements as paid advertisements and what it means to make space for disagreement within our denomination.

I’m not able to settle any of that, though of course I have opinions. What I want to remind us is that this is not a theoretical discussion.

People’s lives are on the line, their mental health, their spiritual well-being. LGBT people face bullying, threats, hate crimes, discrimination, and highly increased rates of mental illness and suicide. What we say to them, how we talk about them, how we continue to make a divide between them and us, it matters. Sexuality is personal and emotional to all of us, and sexual minorities are more vulnerable. That has gotten lost too often in this church debate.

There are ways to disagree well, to show love and walk together and learn from each other. “Reference Statements” fail us in this. Condemning each other from a distance, shouting at each other in print or on social media does not do it, no matter how much we claim that our motives are pure and compassionate.

I say “we” because this is us. These are our people, we’re part of Mennonite Church Canada together. This is our magazine, our dollars, our collective space. And this is our body, the church, offended and offenders, hurting and hurtful. I need to claim my part in this, acknowledge that I’m part of the problem, that I also hurt people with my ignorance and carelessness and self-righteousness.

To that end, here’s my prayer of confession:

God of Love, Creator of All, who lives among us and in us, You are One, united and whole.

And yet we confess that we are not One. As your people, we are broken and incomplete. 

We draw lines and set boundaries, ins and outs, ups and down, greater-thans and less-thans.

We value those who believe like us and behave like us, over those who we don’t understand, who make us uncomfortable.

We are influenced by money, more than by your call to care for the poor, poor in wealth and access, vulnerable in spirit.

We trust in Doctrine more than Spirit, in carefully-worded statements more than carefully-nurtured relationships. We ignore the fruit of the Spirit among those who disagree with us.

We cling to our ideas of equality and our right to be heard, even though Jesus proclaimed an upside-down kingdom where the weak are blessed and the power is routed through the servants.

We find reasons to excuse our sins while railing against what we see as the sins of others; we put up picket fences around the planks in our eyes.

We choose silence and passivity over the call to embrace those who suffer and to weep with those who weep.

We cling to our interpretations of Scripture and we miss the Voice of God.

We “educate” when we should embrace.

We mean well, most of the time. But we look past the hurting people in our midst, and in our ignorance cause more pain.

We want to win more than we want to love. 

We put our security ahead of the cries of those who we wound.

God of Shalom, nothing missing, nothing broken, forgive us.

(silence)

“We are not just made by God we are made of God.”  (Julian of Norwich, a repeated theme in our fall sermon series.) This Spirit of God in us brings the hope of new life, of something new being born in us. Be born in us, God of love and light. Transform our woundedness into new life and new hope, the Body of Christ, full and whole.

Amen.

In this place, as Wildwood Mennonite Church, we have committed to living differently (as written in our bulletin each week):

We're glad to welcome everyone to worship and participate with us! Wildwood Mennonite Church is a community of followers of Jesus Christ that invites into membership all who wish to join us in the journey of faith. With God's help, we will not discriminate in regard to race, ethnic background, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, income, education, ability, and other factors that give rise to division and marginalization.

Whoever you are, you are welcome, you are loved. And we will bend over backwards to show you that you are God’s Beloved, created by God, of God.

No, we don’t do that perfectly here, not even particularly well sometimes. 

But that is our aim, that is our purpose, that is where the Spirit of God is, among us and in us.

Prayers and peace to those who are hurting today. If you’d like to talk further, I’d be glad to listen.

When

Sunday Mornings
Worship: 10:45 a.m.

Adult Sunday School 9:45 a.m.
Family Singing Time 10:15 a.m. - Resumes Jan 6
Junior Sunday School and Nursery during the morning worship - Resumes Jan 6

Special Services
December 24 - 6:30 p.m. - Christmas Eve Service

Contact

Phone 306-373-2126
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pastor Joe Heikman
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.