19 September 2007

Grant us Light for our Path

This morning another email arrived about the task before Baltimore Yearly Meeting, to take back to each monthly meeting the concerns over the FUM hiring policy, for their consideration.

We are trying to arrive at a baseline of material to distribute and carry with us, as we endeavor to help monthly meetings to find unity about our position on the hiring policies of FUM that exclude homosexuals in committed relationships. We have continued without any clear sense of how to proceed, for several years, and the issue weighs heavily on many of us.

This brings me to a concern that weighs on my own mind: how sometimes in the midst of a dire concern, and in the midst of our current hasty culture, we are driven more by the desire to solve a problem, rather than raise an issue to the Light for worshipful consideration.

It's something I have personally had experience with, having at least once seen my own leading dissolve into self-defensiveness and erratic problem solving. At the outcome of this I was initially oblivious, although my own clinging to my own position should have told me I was no longer laboring in the light. Only as considerable time passed, was I able to see, with the gentle eldering of my Ministry and Counsel committee, how my own position was affected by my defensiveness.

The heart of the conflict with FUM has appeared to me at present to be a theological one. It will never be solved, as I see it at present, by weighing the policies and procedures, or even by weighty discussion between various groups of Friends. Certainly knowing each other better can only help, as far as trusting that each of us brings to the table our best selves, desiring true kinship with each other in the Light.

I do, however, have complete faith in the Light that illumines all things. I believe that the solution rests in worship and prayerful consideration of this matter. We are at an impass because various individuals and even some whole groups of people differ greatly in their theologies: one group sees the inerrancy of Biblical text in defining what is sin and who can serve as a result, and the other defines who can serve directly as a belief that there is the Light of God in everyone and therefore anyone can and will have a leading to serve.

Certainly everything is not quite so black and white as that, but I think this defines the ends of the spectrum. My own position is somewhere in between, and not totally clear to me as yet. I want to respect the theologies of the different people involved. I am concerned that one group (and many more might follow, if one defines who can serve on the basis of sin and what it is) can be excluded when I have seen the leadings personally. I am concerned that someone who feels so clearly led to ministry might feel that the only way they could serve would be in holding secrets from the greater Meeting (as in the case of other denominational churches).

Perhaps God is leading us to a new place? Perhaps the act of holding the picture of such great theological differences up to the light might show us the way to this new place? Are we as a group of modern Friends, capable of such deep worship? Can we consider that we might be led by God to shed off some of this modern clothing, to return to the place of deep leading, such as George Fox and other early Friends were led?

I am sure that it was no easy task to shed off the physical practice of the sacraments as depicted by the Anglican and Catholic churches, yet early Friends did just that. Was this not against the Word as depicted in the Bible? What about the practice of keeping slaves or carrying weapons? Each of us must listen, truly listen to where God is leading us. Perhaps it is not so clear as we wish it would be.

You might be thinking that I have my own sense of leading, or my own agenda behind this writing. But I truly do not, beyond the fact that I believe when we bring two seemingly irrefutable issues together in the Light, there is the possibility that God may reveal or even create something new that is beyond what we humans can see.

I welcome comments or discussion on this. I am trying to expand my own understanding of the power of worship and prayer.

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