Celebration and a "Jolt" of Reality!

On October 8th First Congregational celebrated the 25th anniversary of voting to be an Open and Affirming (ONA) congregation. Every year on the second Sunday of October, worship focuses on being an ONA church. In the recent past, I have had church members ask if we even needed to set a Sunday aside to celebrate the public stance taken so long ago. My answer continues to be that our voice of inclusivity is as important today as the day the vote was taken in the church. Sometimes when we ourselves are surrounded by a community of love and support, we can become complacent, as individuals and a congregation. Last week, the news in Madison gave us a "jolt" of reality. 
It was reported last week in the Wisconsin State Journal that the Madison Catholic Diocese had provided a series of "considerations" when deciding whether to provide funeral rites for people in same-sex unions. I have teeter-tottered between sadness and anger for the last week. I am angry that Christianity has again been co-opted by people with religious affiliation claiming they can make judgments reserved for God. I am saddened because people who are grieving the loss of a family member they love could be completely turned away from a sacred service, or offered a minimal graveside service, in order to keep it hush hush.
I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to enter into sacred space with God for a service after death. I could certainly provide a lengthy list of reasons why I hold this belief, starting with "I don't believe this is the way Jesus would respond." But I also know I will not be able to convince some people of my understanding. This is a painful reminder to us that not everyone thinks and acts as an Open and Affirming congregation. Because First Congregational did make that commitment 25 years ago, that is EXACTLY why we need to be a loud voice of inclusivity in Madison and beyond. 
Jesus said over and over again to love God and love neighbor. There was not a BUT or EXCEPT at the end of his statement. There were no exceptions in his guidance. Jesus reached out to the very edges of society, wrapped his arm around those who had been deemed unworthy by others, and brought them closer to him.  It is not a time to slip into complacency. It is a time to be the loudest voice of love! Our job is not to argue or attempt to change people's minds. Our job is to provide safe space for people to enter the sacred, whether in birth, baptism, communion, or death. 
~ Eldonna Hazen

Posted on October 31, 2017 at 10:28 am in Featured Content.

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