A place at the table

There’s a wonderful (and challenging) new hymn that I love that starts out “For everyone born, a place at the table…”

This last weekend my faith denomination took what I believe to be a God-inspired leap into making a place for everyone at the table in the church in the USA (following the same decision made in Australia and Canada), allowing for same-sex marriage where legal and commitment services where marriage is not legal…and also allowing for the ordination of all who are called, regardless of sexual orientation. This is an issue we have been dealing with (or, in many ways, trying not to deal with) for the past 40 years.

Yet I also find that when we open the table to individuals and groups that have been marginalized in the past, there are often others who feel that they have been pushed away from the table…that there is now no place for them.

That hurts…and yet I also understand their perspective.

At times we have wanted this issue to be settled by legislative fiat. At other times we have wanted prophetic guidance from our leader so that we could basically say, “God said it; that settles it.”

But because we believe we have been called to be a prophetic people rather than merely a people with a prophet, we were called to struggle together.  Part of that struggle has taken place during this last year of preparation by individuals and congregations. This past weekend we came together to determine the future.

We listened to each other…truly listened,  hearing the pain of those who did not see this as God’s will for us as well as the passion of those who have sensed full inclusion as where God is calling us. We shared conversations and formal worships as well as briefer moments of blessing during the deliberations.

And Sunday morning the delegates chose to recommend changes in church policy for the USA church for full inclusion.

There was no outburst of joy from those who agreed with the decision, even though there were many who now feel truly included for the first time in their lives. I think that perhaps of the pain they have suffered, they were also sensitive to the pain this decision inflicted on those who did not agree with it.

And yet…we sang together “They will know we are Christians by our love.” All of us.

I know there is a lot of work of healing and reconciliation to be done. I know there are some who will find it impossible to walk with us because of their understanding of scripture and where they sense God calling them.

Yet I hope and pray that we will be able to find ways of walking together in love…of sitting together at the table…God’s table. We will only be able to do that by God’s grace…by allowing the Holy Spirit to gently move in our lives–as it moved in our assembly this weekend–reminding us that the two greatest commandments deal with love…love of God and of neighbor.

May all find a place at the table.