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Family Photo
Growing Up

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Bomb Cyclones and Blizzards

We're caught in the tail end of the huge blizzard system moving across the Midwest, which means a snow day for everyone. The school district did us all an immense favor by calling it yesterday, despite sixty-degree temps, sun and general disbelief.  We all got to sleep in, and the district powers were rapidly proven correct when rain turned to snow at 9am, and gusts of wind blew in to relieve forty-year-old trees of their embedded root systems.  As the wind howls and the electricity flickers on and off, I cross my fingers that the stew in the Crockpot gets cooked before we lose power, and calculate how much square footage we might need for sleeping in front of the gas fireplace in the family room.

Rob has been at a conference near the Denver airport all week, and got there for a brief time this morning, only to realize as the snow started dumping that he had to return home immediately or he would be staying at the airport hotel overnight.  I'm relieved to have everyone here, safe and warm, and realize for the thousandth time how little anything else matters if my family is safe and healthy. Not college admissions (so hard to pass up a tangent on this issue today!), not salaries, not status, not anything.

Snow days were hard when the kids were little (everything was hard back then), but not so difficult now as children do homework or ply their phones. I should herd everyone into a family game but might settle for a family movie later today when essays are written, Rob's to-do list has been shaved down, and my birthday project for Daniel is farther along.  Speaking of shaving - I even got to my legs today with all this extra time, and now luxuriate in sweats that have seen better days.  Should my children glance at my deshabille in horror, I need but to flash a smooth shin to reassure them that I haven't totally given up.

Wishing everyone at home in the blizzard a safe and restful day, and praying for travelers who might be caught in this system or those without homes seeking shelter. Be safe.

Monday, March 4, 2019

We're Going to Break the Rules

Though I grew up in the Catholic church and Rob in the Presbyterian, we have been attending St Andrew United Methodist Church for fourteen years.  Our boys were baptized there and our oldest two children confirmed in front of a congregation that we hold dear. St. Andrew takes the United Methodist slogan of "Open hearts, open minds, open doors" one step further; we are a reconciling congregation which specifically welcomes members of the LGBTQ+ community who are often denied the comfort of church membership.

Last week the global conference of the UMC met to vote on how to deal with this community. Our Book of Discipline states that homosexuality is a sin and incompatible with God's teaching, and many congregations in the United States - including St. Andrew - disagree and want the wording changed to embrace all people with God's love.  Unfortunately, a conservative faction of the American UMC banded together with delegates from Africa and Asia and actually made the situation worse. Not only did they vote to keep the language, but they introduced draconian punishment for any clergy who came out as gay, and for any clergy who married a same-sex couple.

The plan approved by the conference, the "Traditional Plan," says that a clergy member who marries a same-sex couple will lose a year's worth of pay the first time s/he conducts a marriage, and will be excommunicated from the church after the second time.  Our pastor, Reverend Mark Feldmeir, said that if he were a young man at this time, he would not elect to go to seminary, would not become a pastor.  But, thanks to God's grace, he is our pastor, and he helped us all through a difficult week of reconciling the narrow and prejudiced decision of the global church with our congregation's open attitude. (In contrast to the decision, which he called broken hearts, closed minds, and shut doors.)

Rev Mark held a meeting last Wednesday, the day after the vote, and between 300 and 400 people came on the spur of the moment to be comforted, to organize, and to prepare to disobey.  As our former Pastor Jerry Herships put it, "it's ecclesiastical disobedience but biblical obedience."

In his sermon yesterday, again addressing the bitter decision and the divide it has caused in the Methodist Church, Rev Mark answered his own question, "What are we going to do?" with this, "We're going to break some rules."

I heard that statement with such relief that I cried. The feeling of betrayal by organized religion (again, after growing up Catholic), the disbelief in continuing narrow-minded and exclusionary thinking by leaders of our church and leaders of our country, had swamped me into depression. To hear a courageous leader stand up for what is right, to brave consequences in defense of God's major laws ("Love God and love your neighbor as yourself"), was a buoy to my floundering spirit.

I should add here that all of our previous pastors agree with Rev Mark and posted lengthy responses to the Traditional Plan on Facebook. All are worried about members of the LGBTQ+ community, especially the youth who are denied welcome in so many areas of life. The church should be a haven and refuge for all, especially the marginalized, and I thank God that our leaders will stand up to the egregious decision to specifically outcast our members. They will marry same sex couples, they will come out, they will continue to spread love.  The United Methodist Church will never be the same, will probably split into multiple factions, but brave people will continue to love audaciously, welcome boldly and embrace with all our strength.