February 17, 2023 Message From Rev. Bill

What does it mean to be an “Affirming” church?

For over 50 years the United Methodist Church has been debating our views on homosexuality. There are some who focus on what they call a “traditional” view of scripture and sexuality, and others who feel that those verses that the traditionalists cling to have been grossly misinterpreted. 

For most United Methodists, their feelings are somewhere in the middle. While not antagonistic towards gays, many people (and churches) just keep quiet about the whole thing and don’t try to make any waves. 

“We welcome everyone,” they say. “Anyone can come and worship with us.”

But to be Affirming is more than just being welcoming. It means to actively encourage LGBTQ+ persons – to worship with us, to become members, to serve in leadership, to lead in worship. 

How would it feel if your pastor said, “We welcome women to come worship with us, but they cannot take communion, or read the Bible out loud, or lead any church activities”? What would happen if we said, “We would love to have Latinos come worship with us, but they must speak English while they are here, dress like us, and they can’t bring any of their foods to our covered-dish suppers”?

To be AFFIRMING is more than just WELCOMING. It means that we love you for who you are, and you don’t have to change in order for us to call you sister or brother. 

I understand that some still have a problem with this – “How can I accept someone that, by my understanding, is living in sin?” 

First of all, be careful of accusing others of sin! We find many stories in the Gospels where “religious” people argued with Jesus about His relationship with “sinners”. (The man born blind, the woman caught in adultery, even Jesus Himself for healing on the Sabbath!) It seems that God’s definition of sin and the human definition of sin are quite different. We want to define sin as a fault in someone’s character, whereas God sees that we are all sinners and need His grace!

Secondly, Jesus warned us against judging and told us to love and forgive each other instead. 

And thirdly, Jesus warned us against trying to remove the speck in our brother or sister’s eye when we have a lot of vision trouble ourselves!

John Wesley taught his followers to “spread scriptural holiness throughout the land”. I interpret this to mean “Invite people to find hope and healing through Jesus”. By my actions, by my words, by my humility I will do more to invite people to fall in love with Jesus than by telling them what I think they’re doing wrong.

Affirming – saying to people, “We aren’t here to fix you; we are here to love you. You belong to God, so therefore you belong with us. Let’s walk this journey together.”

  • Rev. Bill

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