Love God, Love your neighbour as yourself
God is love. We are taught how to love from our earlier moments of life. Sometimes love is a powerful force for freedom in our lives, and sometimes it can be a weapon of control and coercion. Love is a complicated thing, it is both an emotion and a way of being. As Christians we are taught to love our God with everything we are and have, and to show that love in our life with how we act towards our neighbours. We are to show everyone the same love and dignity we are shown from God. Yet there are days when loving others may feel very easy for us, and days when that is the hardest thing in the world to do. Today, for many people in all areas of our church, is one of those days when loving is hard work.
At the Friday evening session of our General Synod, being held here in Vancouver, our church voted against extending the rights of marriage to our LGBTQ+ community. We, as a church, have been on this road for many years now. We as members of a larger a diocese within this church, have been at the forefront of sharing God's love with all members of society. As a parish, I have heard and seen over, and over, in pastoral visits, emails, phone calls, and gestures, our deep and abiding love for everyone and a desire to be in good relationship with whomever we encounter. And in our parish, all means all, without exclusion.
There is a lot of pain in all areas of the church tonight. There are no winners, there is no victory in this. There is only pain, loss, grief, and many questions. God is here, in the midst of this too. This is not a desire to speak false truth into deep pain, rather it is recognizing something deeper within what I witnessed tonight. Our debate, while heated, challenging, tough, and disappointing, was laden with many, many, many, people of incredibly deep faith trying their hardest to love God, and love their neighbours as they love themselves. The challenge for me personally, was how in loving God, and trying to live it out, meant that the love of God found in marriage was withheld from others. This is personally deeply disappointing. For many, this night is filled with tears and pain. Yet God is still here with us in our emotions and questions, and this Synod is not yet over. This is not the final word.
Our Archbishop will have a pastoral statement to be read in church on Sunday July 21, and I will share that with you as soon as I have it. In the meantime, I invite us- you and me together- to prayer. Pray for reconciliation within our church. Pray for one another, our bishops, our clergy, our delegates to synod. Pray for those who do not hold the same view as us. Pray for those who feel alone because of this outcome. Pray for the church. I invite you to pray with me this collect for our beloved church over the weekend:
O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favourably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery. By the effectual working of your providence,carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation. Let the whole world see and knowthat things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,one God, for ever and ever. Amen
This is not the end of our story. This is not the end of this work. Love cannot be conquered, because love is from God, and God-in Jesus- overcame hatred and death in the resurrection to establish an eternal kingdom of love in our midst. Love always wins. I invite you to join me in prayer and worship this Sunday with our guests from General Synod, so we can be one body together in this. All are welcome, as is safe and helpful for each of us to do.
No matter your place in this conversation, no matter your theology, feelings, thoughts, or pain, you belong here. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. No vote of Synod, no motion, no statement, no human. Nothing. You are named, loved, and seen by God, and I will continue to work my hardest to ensure that our parish remains a safe, inclusive, and welcoming place for all of God's people. And all, for us, means all, no matter your views. No exclusions.
I am here to listen, as is helpful, with you, and know of my prayers for you.
Love your neighbour,