conference time

i spent parts of the last couple of days
as a delegate for the
western district conference of mennonite church usa’s annual assembly.
i’ve never been in this role.
i was surprised at my level of intimidation.
though i am starting to recognize in myself
an underlying theme of
not wanting to be where i don’t belong.

cow in the park.

in my childhood
i watched and experienced over and over
people calling out that
i/someone didn’t belong.
it is starting to make sense.

wall.

it makes sense that my heart rate
was elevated for about an hour
during an intense conversation of about 200 hundred people
on the issue of homosexuality.
agreeing and disagreeing.
walls so high it’s hard to imagine crossing over.

it makes sense that i couldn’t stop the tears
during session on immigration
as the memories of childhood visitors turned friends
coming in and out of our home
on their secret journey north.

it makes sense that my heart swelled with hope
as people of all ages made me proud
to claim this faith as my own.

i can’t help but feel that christians in our nation
are often the most divisive in word and action.
comments and doings that have me cringe with shame.

what does the welcome table look like if there is exclusion?
pizza nite for 17.

i remain grateful that
through audible sighs, shouts out,
banjo picking, fiddle wailing,
continued conversations through anger,
shifting in seats and those still as statues,
coffee and more coffee,
tears and laugher,
english and spanish,
this weekend reminded me
that the peace of christ,
the grace of god,
and the image of heaven
is present now.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

disclaimer: i am aware that many, many folks have these experiences and give of their time more often than i. i’m a new kid adult on the block feeling a little excited, hopeful and pained.

disclaimer 2:  none of these photos have anything to do with conference, though OH MY i wished many times that i had had my camera.

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8 thoughts on “conference time

  1. thank you for taking what nourishment was required to allow you to sit through the discomfort. I know that the more people are willing to do “just” that, the more we will be able to hear that the shouting is not necessarily nuclear, and see that the pain doesn’t necessarily dissolve us into immobility. If only our people could really believe that the full tension of V7 gives more beauty to the desired home chord.

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  2. Thank you for bringing your voice to this conversation. The naive (or judgemental?) part of me still sees this as a really BIZARRE conversation to be had….I mean….really? Isn’t it 2012? I can see absolutely NO reason for exclusion from faith based on sexual orientation, and it seems even more strange and uncalled for in a context where there are so many other serious needs and issues that the church should address. Apparently, your voice was probably a better representative than mine would be….so thanks. Move on, Menno-world. Welcome the stranger, and get on with the important work of the world.

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  3. Oh, how I would not have been able to keep my feet grounded in a room like that. Exclusion is a big reason why I no longer identify with religion or a Church. I don’t believe that Jesus or a god – if there is one – intended or desired for anyone or anything to be excluded from anything good.
    And I am with Jen…when I hear people so disgusted or uncomfortable with equality for minorities (women, LGBT, latino, etc.) I think, “REALLY?, aren’t we supposed to be WAY past this issue?”. I mean seriously, people. There are people starving, thirsty and lacking proper medical attention. Sort yourselves out!

    Okay….that’s all. :)

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    1. well, bri, your voice would not have been alone. that gives me hope.

      it was a little bit of a mind jump to sit in a business meeting about inclusion (the issue being that a pastor performed a same sex covenant and after being reviewed by the western district leadership, her credentials were found to be in order…some churches didn’t like that)…and then sit in a several hour session on the HORRORS of immigration.

      what if we simply lived without fear?!?!?!?

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