I think things over: reflect, ruminate, wrangle, revisit, brood, mull, process, ponder in my heart. I’ve mastered ‘think before you speak.’ I take my time. I’ve thought things over for decades, all my adult life. It’s time – I’m called to leap, not knowing where I’ll land. Now is my time; I’m taking it.
I chose the celebration of Epiphany to speak boldly in faith. “A light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.” I’ve chosen, in my quiet (for a preacher) ways, to follow that light, to point it out, to insist that light shines even when it seem eclipsed by storms, suffocated in gloom.
Now I follow that brightest star, to risk offering my best gift to God, to the church, to the world, offering myself.
At the tweening age of twelve, friends dragged unchurched me to United Methodist Youth Fellowship. Church enthralled me: caring community, ladies inviting me to their pew, join the choir, stay for cookies. The pastor’s big smile and country music illustrations, preaching Jesus’ teachings: love, grace, caring for outcast, embracing enemies, striving for justice. At 13 I professed my faith, then entered the nearby United Methodist college at 18, seminary soon after. When I timidly mentioned my youthful call to ministry to that pastor, he picked me up and spun me around! Joy! Ordination followed, then ministry in local churches, a college campus, working with new generations of seminary students.
It’s been forty years since my baptism and confirmation. Forty years of ministry, in hiding – serving our grace-filled God in a rule-bound institution. Forty years exiled in a hostile desert by a denomination claiming to share living water. Forty years hearing, then proclaiming, “All are welcome at this table,” yet knowing that United Methodist policy asserts I’m not welcome to claim authority to speak those words reflecting Jesus’ inclusive, redemptive love. Forty years of the hierarchy repeating: wait, have patience; change takes time. The Scriptures and the Holy Spirit profess: Forty years! Enough desert-wandering! Forty years of exclusion, second-class citizenship, demeaning rhetoric – forty years of manufactured smoke attempting to eclipse the Light of the Gospel. It’s time for challenge, for change, for The UMC to stop justifying discrimination. It’s time for Gospel-followers to stride forth from desert gloom to promised-land, to reclaim full, equal regard in the church and in ministry.
It’s my time to proclaim the Gospel, loud and proud: I am part of God’s good creation; God is well pleased.
I’m a woman of God sharing my life with another Jesus-following woman. We, like you, are made in God’s image. Jesus Loves Me This I Know. I’m lifting my voice. It’s time for the UMC to illumine its brighter heritage and its claim: “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” Make it true! It’s well past time. Some who have been biding our time now proclaim our truth. We’re done being victims of an unfaithful system. Now we’re activists for the redemption of the UMC, for the love of all God’s beloved children, for the love of God. It’s my time now. Forty years I prepared, pondered, prayed and wandered.
Now I take my stand, raise my voice for justice, and risk credentials and career. Silent no more, I keep faith with the Church by challenging it to keep faith with the Gospel. It’s time.