Volume 7: Issue 1
The Beloved Community
Table Of Contents
Cover Story: The Beloved Community:
Despite the difference in the details between Jesus and Paul's approach to community, we are called to follow both models today. We cannot take Paul's idea of only being "in" the world but not "of" it and expect to connect the marginalized with God's redeeming power. Similarly, we cannot merely take Jesus' call to be "of" the world without connecting ourselves to a community of believers who will love, edify and build us up in our faith.
Are you ready for community? Are you ready to come with a clear positive sense of who you are, rather than needing just to declare who you aren't? Are you ready to look for common ground rather than why others should be kept away as "them?" Are you ready to be willing to change as you see reflections of your heritage, your life, your beliefs and your priorities in the diversity of others?
called to love both the entire world and to love one
another. They are two separate but interrelated
But I seek to express that there should be but one factor that determines inclusion in the "community" of Christ, and that is this: do we, as individuals, strive to follow the one Commandment that I feel truly defines what Jesus was all about? Do we allow love for and gratitude to God and love, care and compassion for one another to be the central focus of our lives, in our decision making, in our relations with others?
Adopting a Shirt of Flame method means that we choose, instead, to affirm our constituent and responsible function as part of the body of society. After we have transformed the thorns society gives us into plumage, our outsider status can empower us. We then have the strength and agility to stand up in the boat to challenge group-think mentality, to boldly point in a new direction across the waters toward the island of a Beloved Community.
God is our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble. In the
arms of His love, we can begin to pick up the shattered pieces of
our lives, and with His power, we can begin to glue the pieces back
into place. As Christian gays and lesbians, God is calling out to
us. He is calling us to bring in the broken, shattered and wounded
ones of our community. He is calling us to bring in our straight
allies who have also been wounded and shattered. He's calling us to
show how much of a refuge He really is.
Christ, is continuing to recognize the effect he has had on our lives,
the foundation he has given us. Moving beyond Christ is the way we honor
him and the importance he has had in our lives. Moving beyond Christ
means ceasing to look to him for specific answers, like the primary
school child doing homework, and instead looking to him for the
principles we use to find those answers for ourselves. It means, instead
of asking "What would Jesus do?" we should be asking, "What have I
learned from Jesus that will help me in resolving this issue?"
... the gay Catholic endures a steady pressure to submit before a power they can neither see nor resist, as in numerous incremental ways they are coerced into silence, being quiet, not talking about it, accepting the very minimum. One can only imagine the consequences of such spiritual penury. Making do, spiritually, with less and less - such an anorexia of the soul reflects how starved the church keeps its gay persons, no matter how "gay-friendly" any individual parish might seem to be. Informality and oppression go hand in hand, and "gay-friendly" must always stop short of canon law and doctrine.
I'd caught glimpses of
him previously and noticed how often he was engaged in conversation with
a wide cross-section of people. Sometimes as I passed he was laughing
uproariously, but more often he spoke with intensity and conviction.
Not that he was anyone special. He held no particular political clout,
nor did he appear to have many friends who would push his cause. Rather
he was a loner, a person not afraid to speak his mind about inequalities
and prejudices, especially when they concerned the attitudes and actions
The social forces that produce heterosexism exist and interact independently of the Church, and anti-gay Christians are using the Bible to support sentiments that would exist anyway. If the United States were a more secular country heterosexism would take a different, more secular form.
Special Report: Soulforce Confronts Southern Baptists
On Tuesday, June 11, 2002, in St. Louis, Missouri, the immovable object of
ignorance at the Southern Baptist Convention met the irresistible
force of truth in Soulforce.
We were preparing to trespass. Together we appeared as six
heterosexual Southern Baptists couples. We proudly represented the
GLBT community and allies. We wanted to fit in so we were naturally
concerned about our clothing. Sunday best was suggested. We planned
strategic seating positions. We practiced nonviolent ways to defend
ourselves if we were physically attacked. We prepared mentally to
control our own violence of tongue and heart.
The material wealth enjoyed by the United States is not evidence of God's blessings. I propose that it is instead evidence of God's absence. I believe that God has given up America -- just as we were warned in the first chapter of Romans about how God deals with idolators who worship material things instead of God.
Though Beirut is a very modern city and most of the residents, who are either Sunni or Shi'ite Muslims, are very progressive otherwise, they are still behind when it comes to dealing with homosexuality. Both sects, who are Islam's main branches, consider homosexuality a wicked practice.
Each scholar agrees that to take the Bible seriously "means one does not affirm its truth apart from struggling to understand its meaning," as Placher writes. That means we cannot pick up the book, read a few passages and profess to know what the words mean because it's "clearly" there in black and white (or red and white if we're reading the words of Jesus!).
Fans of Bishop Spong will love this book; critics of Spong will inevitably loathe it. If you happen to be one of those people that counts himself or herself among Spong's disciples, reading this book will be a life-giving experience.
The primary goal of this article is to let you know that you are not alone. There are many Christian resources available to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. There are people who understand. There are people who care. There are people who want to help you. You do have to look. You do have to reach out, but they do exist.
From the Pulpit:
suggesting we strip away the peripheral stuff this
morning and just focus on the fundamentals. Let's
remind ourselves what is central about our life in
this place. And I'd like to start that conversation by
asking the most basic of questions: What is the
Bible Study and Inspiration:
Jesus loves you. Jesus desires you, passionately. Jesus wants to be with you and you to be with him. The choice is yours. Are you going to sell your very self to follow the voice of all that is shallow and passing, or are you going to find yourself in the one who is the way, the truth and the life?
Falling from grace is painful. It is something we should strive to avoid. However, it does not close heaven's gates, as the context of Galatians 5:4 makes clear. Sadly, those who believe that it does do not believe the gospel of grace.
As Christians, we should hold ourselves to a higher standard, and it does not matter one iota if we are gay or straight. The Bible is very specific on what people should and should not do in accordance with relationships to one another. God expects us to behave differently than non-believers, so we should not only expect the same thing, we should make it a priority in our lives.
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