- by Rob Lee -
This past week, I’ve been pondering the decision of Pope Benedict XVI to resign. There have been plenty of revelations by many Catholics as to why this happened and what it might mean to their faith. As a Protestant who believes we’re all more connected than we’re willing to admit, I think I’ve finally reached a conclusion as to what this momentous event in history means to me.
The Papal resignation is a beautiful reminder that the church changes, sometimes sweepingly and quickly, to all of our surprises such as last week when we heard that Benedict was stepping down. Sometimes the church changes slowly, leaving a trail of tears and broken hearts amidst the faithful. Thankfully, though, the church does change.
We who claim the name of claim the name of Christian, a title beyond gay or straight, Catholic or Protestant, can be thankful that the church will be increasingly different in the coming years. I’m reminded of that old spiritual,
Look where God has brought us, look how far we've come, we're not what we ought to be, we're not what we used to be. Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord, for what you've done!
This is a dangerous and beautiful reality for the LGBT-church community. This means that the people within the movement must be ever aware of the changing landscape of the church. Though resignations or retirements of bishops might not have as sweeping change as a Papal resignation (though they very well may help) we of this faith must enact change through our words and actions.
Enacting faith and change through words and actions, that brings me to another big happening within the church world. Adam Hamilton published a piece in the Washington Post entitled, On homosexuality, many Christians get the Bible wrong.While I was incredibly proud of Rev. Hamilton’s statements for an auspicious newspaper, I remind him what I have to constantly remind myself: words in a newspaper are incredibly powerful, but the actions that we take to back up our words carry far more weight.
Rev. Hamilton, you have challenged and inspired me with your ministry. I remember meeting you at General Conference in Tampa in 2012; you kindly signed my book, seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing with my life. I have profound respect for you, but now is the time to lend your voice to the community for which you have come out in support of.
It’s far past time for all of the faithful to put our money where our mouth is. Certainly for Rev. Hamilton and for all of us that is an incredible risk, and then in all of it I look at the Pope. While I have profound disagreements with His Holiness, I admire his ability to realize that what is normal isn’t always the way to go, what’s traditional isn’t always the best solution. He has broken the ‘norm’ in a way that no other Pope has done in centuries. If he can do that, then certainly more bishops and people like Rev. Hamilton can use the privilege and power they have been given to give a voice to the marginalized.
As we all go throughout our lives, may we always remember what power and privilege we have been given. It may not be glamorous, it may not be newsworthy, but by God we all have something. The Pope and Adam Hamilton gave me hope in the past week, and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to say that. I’m thankful that in this time, and this place, they have broken the boundaries of what is considered normal. It is my hope in prayer that this will continue, until God’s kingdom is realized, and we all have a place at the table of grace.
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Rob Lee, 20, is a lifelong United Methodist and member of Broad Street United Methodist Church in Statesville, North Carolina. Rob is an undergraduate religious studies major at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Rob is an advocate within the church from a General Conference (2012 Delegate) to the local church level. Rob has a weekly column in the Statesville Record and Landmark and other North Carolina papers. Rob is a blogger who blogged and wrote stories for UMCommunications during the 2012 General Conference. Rob has plans to attend seminary, and continue to advocate for justice within the church. Rob enjoys movies, friends and hiking. He lives in Boone with his dog Rusty.