“Take advantage of the fact that you are a straight, White, man. Please!” One evening, as I was out for a walk with a few other seminarians, Diane said those words to me. And I responded, “Really!?” Her response was immediate and clear—“yes, really! You’re already in those meetings. It’s your responsibility to live up to your values, and to speak your truth.”
Never have words weighed heavier on my soul. Those words continue to weigh heavily on my soul. Because I have been in those rooms, at those tables, and in those places where I have had the opportunity to speak my truth about people of color and communities of color. Diane, Michael, and Papa Smurf had come to trust me (if you’re interested in why, let’s have coffee).
As I consider Welcome Table Christian Church, and the place where we stand in the community, and our future direction, our differences continue to stand up straight and tall. Gay and straight. White and African-American. Male and female. Conservative and liberal. And there are continu- ums between and amongst nearly every identi- fier; none of us are as simple as we may appear.
Our differences can both stand in our way and become barriers, or they can become the rich mixture of soil that adds nutrients; or some combination of responses along, yet another, continuum. It seems to me that we don’t let our differences get in the way of our getting along. Thank you, Paul, for reminding us that “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” —Galatians 3: 28
What is fascinating to me, though, is that Welcome Table is much like many congregations who attract people from different backgrounds. Underneath the “presenting” differences are these currents and streams that are a bit more fun...oooh, really? Fun?! They are a bit more tricky and nuanced and, quite frankly, scary. What I’m talking about are those currents that are often captured as God-talk and Church-talk. How we think about and talk about God (theology) and about Jesus (Christology) and church (ecclesiology) are much more fascinating, to me. What does it mean when your minister stands in front of you and says, “Holy Father. Well, I never really liked that name for You. Father. But I never really liked calling you Mother, either. Let’s try Transcendent Intimate One.” What? Wouldn’t it be interesting, though, if you offered your insights as to why calling God “Father” is important to you. And why calling God “Mother” is important to others of you. And what makes all of this even possible is the charism of dialogue—a deep, abiding appreciation for the other and her/his truth, while, at the same time, holding onto your own truth. In our time together in the coming months I am hopeful that we will explore our differences. All of our differences.
Will you join me in creating safe spaces for us to hold these more intimate dialogues? Opportunities for each of us to consider what we believe about God, Jesus Christ, and the Church?