Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Notes from Under the Elephant

I began my time at the National Pastors Convention this morning sharing a van ride from the airport with Elane, a gaggle of sales people from some company in the Midwest, and a man I was sure hated me.

Being a post-modern, pro-queer, evangelical Jesus-freak is not always easy. In this time in which the Christian world divides sharply and often destructively around issues of sexuality (let alone gender identity!), I often arrive at primarily conservative Christian conferences with some fear in my heart. What if someone brings up “the issue”? What if I have to take a stand? What if I fail to take a stand? What will people think of me? What will I think of me? It has been said that it’s easy to ignore the elephant in the room, unless you’re sitting under the elephant. From my elephant-impaired vantage point, it was easy this morning to project my worst fears on my fellow van-rider. His cheerful (and probably standard) response of “I’m blessed” to our “how are you” became a comparison rather than a thanksgiving. The slight movement of his head (we were sitting behind him) at the sales peoples chatter about favorite bars became an exaggerated rolling of the eyes rather than a simple stretch of the neck. By the time we disembarked at the hotel, I had already put a hundred divisive exchanges in our history. His smile and “enjoy the conference” did nothing to heal the rift between us.

Thank God for music. It was somewhere in the second praise set at the opening session that I started to actually let go. It’s hard to think the worst of those with whom you are singing grateful praises to God. Looking around the room amidst the music that reminded us of the One who thought of us above all, even upon the cross, I could think only about earthen vessels and precious treasure. All of us are broken, and all of us are beautiful. In the big picture, there is no one great dividing line, there are only all the little cracks each one of us bears, each one of us brings humbly to the feet of the Master for healing. Any person at this conference, (or anywhere, for that matter) may dislike me, and that is painful. But I know the deepest wounds we feel are those between brothers, brothers who have forgotten how alike they truly are.

Since then, I have earmarked DVDs of skits for the youth ministry (half-off from Zondervan! Woo-hoo!), found two “ah-HA!” issues in my coaching ministry about which to ask for support and accountability from the staff, tried on at least two different reframings of our church mission, reflected and wept in joy for what I have witnessed God doing with our ministry team leaders.

I have also committed to make at least one overture a day to truly connect with someone I don’t know. I’m here, Lord. And I’m listening.

Pastor Bran

1 comment:

Elane said...

Bran reminds me of the first time I bought a Bible. I was living in San Francisco, and had decided to go to seminary. I'd decided to go to seminary because I loved working in a church, didn't want to ever leave being around people digging for faith and joy, and thought I'd study something to figure out what THAT meant. In the process of deciding to go to seminary, I'd lost most of my friends, and the rest of my friends didn't yet know.

So there's a Xn bookstore not too far from my apartment. I go to the door, dressed in my leather jacket, shaved head, piercings, etc. Maybe an ActUp t-shirt. And then I pace in front of the door, too afraid to go in. If I had been a smoker I would have been chaining them. At the moment I know either a) the staff inside will scream and stone me, or b) lightning will strike me dead 'cause God will finally figure out what I poser I am. It took every ounce of courage I had to walk through that door.

I forget sometimes how scary, painful, nervewracking looking for God can be. And how much harder we Xns make it than it needs to be. Thanks for the view from under the elephant, Bran.