As the Church around the world wrestles with the uncertain impacts of this special General Conference, it feels as though we have just left the mountain top. Like the disciples, we followed Jesus to the precipice of a mountain and the results were not what many of us expected.
Peter, John, and James saw three figures: Moses, Elijah, and Christ. The disciples expected to stay with God and the prophets upon this hill, but all that was left was Christ. The others were important, yes, but Christ was the only essential. No matter how deeply the disciples wanted to stay and build three dwellings, Jesus brought them down the mountain for there was work to be done.
No matter which of the three plans we wanted to pass at the General Conference, there is work still to be done, and there was no complete healing in any of them.
As soon as Jesus and his companions descended the mountain, a father ran up and begged for Jesus to attend to his son. “Your disciples were unable to help him,” the man said, as he earnestly wept at the feet of Jesus. Though his disciples sought to do their best–not to change the boy, but to cast away the harm being done unto him–they failed. Though the Church seeks to do its best, we fail. We fail to heal and instead inflict pain; we fail to protect and instead exclude; we fail to love and instead impose shame.
For those leaders in our Church who write their conferences, districts, and churches, and yet fail to name the harm done unto us LGBTQ+ folk, I urge you to amend your statements. Weep for our pain like the father at the feet of Jesus. Tell us that we are valued despite the decision; show us that you will work for justice; affirm for us that the Church is stronger with our gifts; and at the very least, confess to us the faults of the Church in its attempts to determine our God-given callings or the ways in which we express our love.
Jesus wept. The father wept. Why won’t you weep with us?
For our moderate siblings, those who faithfully seek to maintain our connection even while maintaining differing opinions, this is your time to descend the mountain. You can’t build three dwellings on the one mountain in St. Louis–no plan is the answer to the pain we experience. This is your time to descend and assist. The queer people in your pews are weeping; are you? This struggle must not be carried by us LGBTQ+ people alone. The struggle to reclaim the United Methodist Church as a global Church for ALL people is a struggle for ALL of us to take up–together.
We will descend this mountain and forge through this wilderness of pain TOGETHER to do the work of God.
It is time for our conservative and moderate siblings to do as Isaiah envisioned, to “beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation (or caucus) shall not lift up sword against nation (or caucus), neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:4) May we study war no more; may we seek to be in dialogue with one another; may we seek to truly understand each other and recognize our equally authentic faith. May those who perpetuate harm to me and other LGBTQ+ people weep at the feet of Jesus for the pain you have caused us and our families. May we move beyond internal strife so that we may engage in the transformative work of Christ around the world.
And may we, the LGBTQ+ community and allies in The United Methodist Church, commit to moving forward toward the Promised Land of justice and equality together. May we stay the course. May we speak truth to power like Amos; may we follow our beloved spiritual mothers like Ruth; may we bring healing, justice, and love like Christ. As the psalmist said, “Though our weeping may last through the night, joy does indeed come in the morning!” (Psalm 30:5)