The river cannot be stoppedTop Highlights, Where's the Faith? Thursday, July 5th, 2012
Social Chaos: Where's the Faith?
From an ad in the Advocate magazine, submitted by a defrocked Pentecostal preacher, who was kicked out of his church for being gay, came a gathering of 12 people in a living room in Los Angeles, which birthed the first Metropolitan Community Church; becoming a global denomination in excess of 200 churches in more than 30 countries. That was 1968. In 1970, MCC San Diego was born; now celebrating 42 years of God’s Spirit bringing healing and restoration to countless thousands of people who have come into the doors of this church.
Yet, throughout the years, there have been people, organizations and even churches who wanted to stop this movement of God’s powerful, all-inclusive love; to deny the LGBT community coming to the table, completely as they are; as children of God, created in God’s image. God doesn’t make mistakes.
Let’s look at the life of Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built. Peter is a captivating figure in the Christian story. Jesus plucks him out of a fishing boat to become a disciple; and time and again he represents all of us in learning and stumbling and growing at Jesus’ feet.
During their time together, Peter is often naïve and clueless – but he’s a follower, constantly learning.
After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges; one who is forceful and bold. This is the Peter we see in the book of Acts, after the Holy Spirit had been poured out on everyone in the upper room. Peter was engaged in several heated debates over whether or not gentiles (you know, those people) should be baptized … or even could be. Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament.
Yet, Peter is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who don’t follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).
His challenge is direct: Before ordering that the gentiles be baptized Peter asks, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they don’t follow the ancient laws.
So, whose place is it to sort out who should be denied a bond with God and the Holy Spirit of the kind that we find through baptism, communion and marriage? Not ours. The water will flow where it will.
The water is for all of us. We see the same thing at the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the bread and wine to all who are there – even to Peter, who Jesus said would deny him, and to Judas, who would betray him.
Peter and Jesus show God’s inclusive form of love. They hold out the symbols of Gods’ love to all.
I like the metaphor of a river being God’s faithful working; working in our world and in our individual lives. As a river cannot be stopped, so God’s faithful working cannot be stopped.
A river keeps on flowing. You can try to dam it up, but it doesn’t stop the flow. Throughout the history of MCC San Diego the river kept flowing.
Know that today, that water of God’s loving, healing spirit is flowing in our church and in your life. You may wonder at times, but know this, you cannot stop the gentle flow of God’s all-inclusive love and grace. The redeeming power of that unstoppable river, and of the Holy Spirit, is relentless, making us all into something better and new.
Happy 42nd anniversary MCC San Diego!
Rev. Dan Koeshall is the Senior Pastor at The Metropolitan Community Church (The Met) in San Diego, California, themetchurch.org.
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