You Are HERE
By Clyde Phillips-Frey of Buffalo, NY, USA
For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. —Romans 12:4–5 NRSV
“You are HERE.” Do you recall the last time you stood in front of a shopping mall map enclosed in a glass case? Or gazed at a map etched in wood at the beginning of a trail that branched off into divergent paths? Or unfolded a street map of a huge, unfamiliar city? It makes me stop and think, “If I am HERE, where have I been and where am I headed?”
I write this shortly after the annual GALA (Gay and Lesbian Acceptance) retreat at Temple Grove (Pennsylvania), which followed the 2013 USA National Conference. As I survey where I, and in the greater sense, we, as a group have been, we are encouraged by the movement of a gentle and comforting spirit.
We had a hardy group that enjoyed the peaceful setting on the lake. This year we decided to provide more time to share with one another. We shared our stories with other LGBT folks and our supporters, but we also took time to put jigsaw puzzles together and play cards. We sat around campfires that were either dying embers or back-away roaring hot.
We had the opportunity to share with our guest minister, Becky Savage, from the First Presidency, in a relaxed atmosphere where everyone felt welcome. We look ahead to the responses of congregations to the recommendations from the USA conference. We have heard of those who continue to struggle with the issue. We understand how important it is for all to receive ministry as they continue their journey with the Spirit. It is just as important for us to continue to receive ministry in our struggle to share equally at the table.
Back to the map—I am not so sure where I will be when I next see the “You are HERE” marker on the map of life. I hope everyone will accept, with open hearts, the ministry each of us has to offer. I hope the love of God will be able to work with us as we move together as a growing, inclusive, and welcoming church.
Prayer for Peace
God of justice and joy, help us prepare a place at the table for everyone born, for each person has a vital role in our community. Help us honor, accept, and embrace everyone’s part in the mission of peace.
Spiritual Practice: Welcoming Unity in Diversity
Meditate on Unity in Diversity. Create a large circle with your arms. See and feel the diverse people God invites inside the sanctuary of Christ’s peace represented by this circle.
Who is easiest to welcome? Whom do you struggle to include? Confess the dividing walls between you and people too different or “challenging” to invite into your spiritual home. Ask God to forgive and heal barriers that keep us from accepting and loving one another.
Today, God, I will listen to and understand those who are working through issues of being a community that can accept all people, including those who may be LGBT.