I am working on my final sermon for preaching class. While it is crazy to believe that it is already time to be taking finals (!!!), it is simultaneously daunting to work on this public issue sermon. To put it briefly, I have decided to write my final sermon to be used in my actual church next February as the United Methodist denomination meets together with representatives from around the world to vote on the denomination’s stance on human sexuality (referring to the marriage and ordination rights of the LGBTQ+ community, which the UMC does not current affirm), also known as the Commission on a Way Forward. It’s quite a huge task for preaching class and an even bigger task for a church full of wonderful, real, intricate human beings. But I never do take the easy route, do I?
As part of my exegetical work (preparation and meditation with the scripture on which I will preach), I decided to include a psalm of lament to help capture the depth of the feeling in this upcoming vote. No matter which plan gets chosen, there is hurt and grief and division. No matter which plan gets chosen, people will be left out or will feel left out of the church. No matter which plan gets chosen, we have some serious work to do. And if I have learned anything in seminary, it’s that we need to use psalms of lament more often.
This process for me looked like reading through all 150 psalms. It was a powerful experience. And it was a difficult experience. As I read through the psalms, I realized the ones my heart was pulled toward. The ones where the psalmist was begging God to bring judgment on their enemies. The ones where the psalmist was crying out to God because God abandoned them. The ones where the psalmist was petitioning for the world to be put back in order out of the chaos they had been living in. The ones where the psalmist cries out and does not respond with trust and praise.
I chose a different psalm of lament for my sermon, one that will better match the feelings of everyone’s hearts and situations, one that ties nicely to the work I’m doing with the New Testament lesson. But I had to pause in the process to name that I need my own work in the psalms of lament in this particular season of waiting. I am waiting to see if the denomination that I feel called to will ordain me. I am waiting to see if the denomination I feel most connected to would marry me and my partner when the time comes. I am waiting to see if the denomination I searched for will send me searching for a new home again. I am waiting to see if the denomination that currently allows me to serve part of its body will let me serve again in the next appointment year. In all of this waiting, I am crying out to God for justice. I am praying to God for love to win. I am asking God to show up in this vote in February because right now it does not feel like God is in this conversation.
I am not very good at waiting. Especially when literally the rest of my life hangs in the balance. So I wanted to write about my experience over the last few days and ask for accountability and prayer. Keep me accountable in hope. In finding God in the midst. In loving no matter the circumstance. And please pray with me. For justice. For space. For presence. For love.
Lord in your mercy.
Hear my prayer.