Deep Calling to Deep, Part 3 – The Wrestle

The current rhetoric around faith sector inclusion of the LGBT+ community is disappointing.

It seems we are still a way away from understanding how we might hold different theological views but disagree respectfully.

Following a conversation with a few others of a view that faith sector leaders, ministers in local churches, were entitled, or perhaps even Biblically justified in excluding LGBT+ community from inclusive worship in Churches, I wrote the following poem.

I wonder if in a position of privilege and inclusion, from the perspective of a majority, exclusion and the impact of exclusion, is really understood.

This poem is one small snapshot of how it feels.

To members of the LGBT+ community and our friends and supporters, I say this. Grieve yes, it’s inevitable and necessary; but please, please do not walk away. Do not permit exclusion to become an acceptable norm. Stand. Stand up, together, join the conversation and we just might challenge the preconceptions. We will need to model how to disagree responsibly, respectfully and with grace.

I hope this video of the rehearsal for the Greatest Showman might inspire you.

The wrestle, Father

 

How can I be chosen for this, if no one here will have me?

How can I sustain this path, when the cost required breaks me?

Where can I go from here when my doubt threatens to swamp me?

The threat of displeasing you, the look in the eye of the other as they regard me.

I would prefer to retreat, to hide and to run

To leave this place to You

I am not what you think

I’m not big

I’m not strong

There is little left to renew

Yet I trust you and I love you, like there is nothing else

I give it all for you.

 

It brings me back, head bent,

With shoulders in-turned

Lost and alone

But with You.

I despair, I lose hope

I tremble and I fear

But I hear your gentle voice

You call to my heart

Remind me of where we have been

And encourage me to rejoice

 

Rejoice as I weep?

Rejoice as I wish

There was another path out of here.

Rejoice as I stumble

And fall to my knees

And beseech yet again

Why me?

Why here?

 

I hear that it’s not possible

That I can’t belong

Because of all that I am

And have been

 

You tell me there is hope

There is beauty

And redemption

You play the strings laid in my heart

 

And so, I rise to my feet

Though I cannot lift my head

Cannot believe that You really mean me

 

As I rise I know that our journey has been precious

That it enables me to see

 

To see hope and restoration

In the hidden and the buried

In the places no one else will call home

 

To see future

To see purpose

To see the power of restoration

To know a place that you have crafted as Your own

 

I see radiance and enormity

Become a glimmer and a trickle

To small heart and souls that reach to You.

Souls that are hidden and abandoned

Buried beyond recognition

But treasured and embraced by You.

 

And so brokenly I travel

I journey by Your side

Resting and leaning as I go

 

Learning to discern, through the gift of your light

Where to travel

How to reach You

To come home

 

I recognise a preciousness

Buried in the forlorn

Who recognise the limitations of here and now

 

They recognise Your Kingdom

And grasp it with both hands

As they reach for you, from here, on the ground

 

There is envy from the wise

And the rich and the brave

Who subsequently notice Your call

They do not sacrifice, they do not  crawl

They worship and they praise

With eloquence and elegance above all.

 

You value the heartfelt

Those earnestly searching

You value the humanity they bring.

They expect little

Have less purpose

Are lost in Your glamour

 

You radiate

They absorb

And they sing.

 

So I praise You

Your compassion

Your commitment

And your care

That makes broken hearts new.

 

I trust in your purpose

Resting fully in prayer

And I stand to

Breathe in

Only You.

 

Andrea King

Deep Calling To Deep (part 2): Anna Rogerson

Following on from Part 1 of this series by Andrea King, here we can read Anna Rogerson’s story of God’s transforming work in her life.


Throughout my Christian journey my views on human sexuality have not been static by any means – then again, I have never really had to think too deeply about it. However, God has a way of reaching into our hearts and disturbing us, often unexpectedly.

About 10 years ago, I had a life-changing encounter with God, a physical experience of his presence that caused me to fall in love with Him all over again. I felt called to be baptized a few years later, and experienced another shift. This time it was a little different. I felt convicted and saddened by what I saw around me – broken marriages, broken lives, just so many things wrong with the world. And yes, an increasing acceptance of different lifestyles, one of which was same sex relationships, something I believed to be completely unbiblical.

At that point I pretty much knew what I believed, I was settled in my views, and didn’t really give human sexuality in a Christian context much thought. Because to be honest, I didn’t have to.

Until one day………WHAM! I did.

I’ll never forget the day it was announced – someone in our congregation, in a same sex relationship, was applying for church membership. We had never had to deal with a dilemma like that in our church before. I cried and cried and cried – the tension seemed too much to bear. Because on one hand, here was a woman who seemed perfectly nice, had been coming to our church for ages, and just wanted to be a member like everyone else. On the other, if we said yes, it would mean we – I – would be agreeing with what she believed.  Or saying it was ok. Either way, it would be something that would stretch my conscience so badly it would tear it. I would be doing something wrong. I couldn’t breathe. It was a time of stress, anxiety, and having multiple near misses in the car. All I could do was pour out my heart to God and seek Him.

There was already a culture of fear in the church because at that time many people were sick, and everyone was searching for answers. The devil can use people’s fears, can’t he – it’s one of his most effective weapons if we are not on our guard. Sadly it seems, we were not, as she left the church under what must have been an unbearably dark cloud of despair.

When she came back to our church a year later, my panic returned. All I could do was cry out to God and keep on searching. If only I could find something that would change my view, so I could just agree and be at peace. But no matter how much I prayed, read, or enquired of others, I just couldn’t find anything that made sense to me. No explanation of scripture that I hadn’t heard before, no moments of revelation. Then one day on a train, God spoke to me. ‘I’m not asking you to change your mind. The most important thing is to be in relationship with me’. That brought me some sense of relief, and was the starting point of a wonderful shift in my journey.

About a year after she was accepted into membership, I was on a Footsteps course, and during one of the sessions I had another all-encompassing encounter with God. I felt Him calling me to completely support her, to journey with her, even though it might cost me. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with love and excitement! It was literally like angels were rejoicing in heaven, difficult to describe. Needless to say, I didn’t learn much about Baptist History that day.

At church the next day, I tentatively approached her and tried to explain what God had put on my heart, hoping that she would accept it. Gracious, as always, she did, and suddenly it seemed a real friendship based on love and acceptance was possible. Before me I saw someone who was dedicated in prayer, had a passion for caring for others, and was filled with grace.

Inclusion is now one of the aspects of God’s character that is the most precious to me. One of the books I read in my search for truth was Matthew Vine’s book ‘God and the Gay Christian’. Though I still struggle to bridge the difference in our understanding of scripture, Vine’s vulnerability and explanation of the impacts of exclusion on LGBT people has helped me love and accept people just as they are, as cherished children of God. But it’s God who changes hearts.

Anna Rogerson