Friday, July 29, 2011

CCC Update

I am back in Silver Spring after a three-week vacation. I had a chance to watch my children's end-of-school-year events, reunite with my family after being apart for four months, travel to Tuscany to perform a wedding for some dear friends, and finally move the Braddocks into our new home in Silver Spring. I am eager to be back at CCC -- to settle in here even as my family adjusts into new lives and routines in the community.

Upon my return, I noticed our rainbow banner was no longer next to the church sign on Colesville Road. In June, Outreach and Engagement planted the rainbow banner as a sign of hope and invitation for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people in our church and larger community. The banner recently came down and is awaiting some repairs and will hopefully return in August.

Why would we put this banner up in the first place? Why do we need to single out any particular minority communities for special attention? Haven't we at CCC always offered a spirit of welcome to all? I think we need something like a rainbow banner to wake us up to the reality that those of us in mainstream society often enjoy a false sense of superiority. It is easy to go about our daily routines, blandly unconcerned or unaware about the pain others go through. We need reminders that there are those in our communities who experience exclusion, hatred, and religion-sanctioned abuse. We don't always want to face the role we have played in discrimination against others. We don't always want to own up to the ways that mainstream cultures benefit from injustice.

The rainbow banner reminds me that the church has a strong moral and biblical obligation to engage in activities that change society in more just, humane, compassionate, and intelligent ways. These ideas echo the words of our Just Peace, Open & Affirming, and Anti-Racism covenants. I know not everyone at CCC thinks the same way about these covenantal commitments we have made. For some, our Three Covenants are marching orders for a better world. Others are uncomfortable with the church becoming a public advocacy group. For now, I think we all need to ask some deeper questions:

* If we feel discomfort about inclusion, where does that come from? When we share our opinions about these issues, do they come from reasoned thought or are they unconscious repetitions of messages we learned as we grew up?
* If we evaluate our language, do we use terms or phrases that reinforce unequal status between God's people? Can we ask those who use discriminatory language and behavior to refrain from doing so, and give reasons why?
* Do we allow stereotypes and generalizations about people?
* Can we comfortably explore and discuss issues of tolerance and diversity?
* Are we willing to become active in our communities to achieve inclusive environments?
* Are we satisfied with our current level of fulfilling our Three Covenants?

My desire is for all of us to know that we are unconditionally loved and fully accepted by God. If God feels that way about us, then it's our job to make the church and the world that way for one another. Indeed, no matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome at CCC!

Onward!

Pastor Matt

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