Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A pastoral response to the passage of Amendment One

Below is a piece written by St. Luke's rector, the Rev. Anne Hodges-Copple, today, the day after the passage of an amendment to the North Carolina state constitution which would make marriage between one man and one woman the only legally recognized domestic union in the state.

And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.

For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? 1 JOHN 5:1-6

The day after an election, any election, we rush to the papers to look for the winners and losers. Did “our guy” win?  Did “our cause” prevail?  Who is claiming victory and who will have to wait and hope and fight the good fight another day?

On the day after a particularly contentious election , which makes plain the painful and bitter divisions among the members of Christ’s body, where is the good news? While some parts of the church celebrate the passage of Amendment One, others who already hold Christians in low regard find their suspicions of religious intolerance among followers of Jesus Christ confirmed. Where is the good news in that? Christians and other people of faith who worked passionately for the defeat of the amendment may feel tempted to just retreat back into their protected enclaves of the likeminded, perhaps surrendering to temptations of being intolerant and hateful toward neighbors who have been intolerant and hateful toward them.

 Where is the good news in that?

The Good News is where it has always been. Not in headlines as if they tell the deeper story of salvation.  Not in political power structures as if they hold ultimate keys to our freedom. The Good News is the Easter news: the love of God in Jesus Christ lives among us, walks among us and even works among us in surprising but always life giving ways. Always.  It is just that sometimes, some days, some seasons, Jesus is hard to see.  Those disciples on the road to Emmaus on the first Easter morning? They felt bereft and abandoned. But they weren’t.  Mary Magdalene in the garden on Easter morning was so caught up in her grief that she did recognize Jesus when he came to her side in a completely new and initially unrecognizable way.

Today is more than the day after an election. It is a new day with new possibilities for loving God, loving our neighbors, seeking justice and showing mercy.  Now don’t misunderstand. It is not a day to merely step back into a private world lacking in engagement with the very real challenges and struggles of the day. I read two papers this morning plus TV and radio coverage.  We who expect protection of our religious freedom must work to protect the freedoms of others.  Christians must engage passionately and respectfully with other Christians whose understanding of scripture and tradition differs from our own even and especially in matters critical to defending the dignity of all children of God.

The victory of our faith is that no matter what the setbacks along the way, Jesus is still the way, the truth and the life. The victory of our faith is in following the commandment of Jesus to love one another as God as loved us. Today and always.

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