I’m a church musician–have been for over 50 years in one form or another. I know how much music can minister to one’s soul (and to others)…how much it can nourish us, keep us focused on the path we want to be on…how it can often be a prayer when we can’t find the words to express them. As the years have gone by, I have also become aware of the challenge it is sometimes to find church musicians…
And so I was deeply disappointed yesterday to read this article in the Kansas City Star in which a gay musician who had been a worship leader for four years was told he could no longer function in that role. Why? Because he was homosexual.
Church literally saved this man. It was his lifeline after substance abuse treatment ended. It changed his life in so many ways–just not the core of who he was…and that’s what some thought needed to be changed.
The ministry he brought–that spoke to many…that didn’t seem to count. The fact that his life had been turned around…that didn’t seem to count.
The only thing that seemed to count was that he was attracted to someone of the same sex–even though he didn’t have a partner…even though he’d never made an issue of it…
Just the fact that he might someday be attracted to another man was enough for some to say that the gift he had in leading worship music wasn’t acceptable.
I wish he lived closer to where I am–I’d have grabbed him in an instant!
My congregation has many individuals who deal with difficult life issues. Some are LGBT…some are ex-cons…some are recovering from addictions (or still suffering from them)…some are overeaters…some have been (or still are) sexually active without marriage vows…
None of us are perfect. But each of us can use that brokenness to reach out to someone else–sometimes to someone who’s dealing with the same issues.
And each of us have gifts we can offer in worship.
At its best, religion can bring us into a healing, living relationship with the Divine and with others who care. It can change our lives and allow us to freely offer the gifts we have been given.
At its worst, religion can become so concerned with pointing fingers at those who don’t meet the standards we have set that we drive away the very people who need that healing, living relationship the most…and we lose incredibly gifted people who want to share because their lives have been changed.
The Jesus I read about spent time with those who were not acceptable to “proper” society. He accepted their gifts, valued their friendship, shared meals and worship with them. Yes, lives were changed–but because of the relationships that developed in the sharing together.
The minister in the story says “There is no middle ground with God’s word.”
My understanding of God’s word is that EVERYTHING else is based on two commandments–(1) to love God with everything we have, and (2) to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Seems to me that the church musician understood that as well–he loved God with everything in him, and wanted to share that love with his neighbors/friends through his music.
I’m glad he’s found a new church home.