In just a few weeks we’ll be celebrating our very first New Light service in Winchester. I’m very excited, and I’m also very nervous! I believe that there’s a real need in the Winchester area. I believe that we’ve been called to meet it. I believe that this is the time for us to do it. I believe I may be crazy!
We have a lot on our collective plate right now. Pride is just around the corner, and then a week later, the same week that Capital Pride is celebrated in Washington D.C., we move our worship to the Clarion Hotel. It might be the best move we ever made, or it might be the worst! Either way, if we’re going to see whether it’s actually our building size that’s inhibiting our growth we need to worship in a larger space and see whether our growth picks up again.
I’d like to say that I know exactly what’s going to happen, but I don’t. There are certainly those who would love to see us fail. There are those who don’t want to see a large open and affirming church in Hagerstown, or Winchester. But it’s because of them that we must try. It’s because of those clergy that use their pulpits to put down LGBT people that we must step out in faith. It’s because of the bullies, the intolerant, the bigoted, the breathtakingly ignorant self-righteous that we must proclaim the good news.
Jesus preached the good news of the Kingdom wherever he went. ‘Repent’ he said, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand’. Matthew 4:17. I don’t believe that Jesus meant we should be sorry for who we are and pretend to be someone else. You can be sorry for something you’ve done, (I’m sorry I ate too much on vacation!), and be willing to change (Salads for a good while!); but how can you be sorry for who you are? How can you be sorry for the color of your eyes, your height, your skin color, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexuality?
The good news of the Kingdom is the good news that God’s love doesn’t just wait for us in some forever place we reach when we die, but is available to us right now. God’s Kingdom is found when we turn from the world and submit to God. We give ourselves to God by giving ourselves to Jesus. We become his responsibility, his siblings in his family. We become a part of the family of God and give up chasing down the vision that the world imposes on us.
Wow! When we do that we find that God’s love is available without reservation to us all! We find that God made us the way we are and that what Jesus changes in us, and for us, is not sexuality, gender, color, ethnicity, or any variable the world might want changed, but simply the core of our character. He makes us like him.
In Jesus we get to live a life! We get to be who we are supposed to be, whether that be straight of Gay, Black or White, Male or female.
And there are those who don’t want that message preached, who do not want equality in God’s family, and who certainly don’t want God’s LGBT children to experience the Love of God without pretending that they’re straight.
Our job is to preach the good news! To all people! We need to make sure we have space for everyone who wants to worship with us. We have to make sure that those who live two hours from Hagerstown have a place to worship. It’s the calling of our hearts and the response to God’s love in action.
I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m excited and nervous. But together we can reach out and proclaim God’s love, in Hagerstown and in Winchester. We can be faithful. The rest we leave to God.