I'm Done Mourning

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This morning I woke up and went to a coffeehouse/bakery and sat with a man who survived decades in a cult. I got to hear his story and share a bit of my own. I had the privilege of reminded him of God’s love for him. He is a gay man and has spent most of his life feeling hated by God. I had the overwhelming joy of countering that narrative.

A few hours later, I sat across the table from a lapsed Catholic woman, and she shared her story with me, and I had the privilege of serving God by pointing out the moments of grace in her life. After an hour her partner appeared and I got to answer his questions about good and evil and the human experience. We talked about our families and our shared love for our new home, Chicago. We talked about our dogs and about the power of baptism. It was amazing

I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I was called by God (by my name) to do this work.

These are truths about who I am, I may not always believe these truths, but they are always true. God has called me. In all of my imperfections, in all of the ways I fail, in all of my shortcomings, God still finds the ability to see in me something of worth. My denomination does not see that. No matter how much work I do, no matter how many lives I touch, no matter what God says; my denomination will not accept what I know to be true.

I have always known that I was called to serve God. I used to line kids on the block up and evangelize to them. Those poor children had to listen to me preach on about Moses and the Burning Bush. I got a kid to say the sinner’s prayer in my living room. I was a terror because I knew that God was gonna use me. I somehow ended up in the United Methodist Church.

I love it. I love Wesleyan theology with its high view of the Holy Spirit that makes my heart sing. I love the emphasis on grace and the belief that God is making us morel like Christ through the Holy Spirit every day. I love that becoming Christ-like means being more loving, patient, kind, forgiving (things I struggle with).  I love that personal holiness is placed on equal footing with social holiness. Our salvation is tied to improving the world we live in just as much as it is tied to us being the best we can be as individuals. I can’t find another place where this theology is explicitly taught as the standard. And I love the bureaucracy. I’ve always loved politics and in the UMC I could combine my love of God and my love of lengthy legal processes and unnecessary debate about minor details (except when I was hangry at annual conference).

Yesterday, the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church told me once again that I am not wanted in the United Methodist Church. They expanded ways to keep me out. I’m tempted to leave, and I will probably leave after the inevitable split because I’d be a great Episcopalian. But for now, I am going to keep serving God where I am because: I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I was called by God (by my name) to do this work, and I am pretty decent at my job. I’m done mourning, I’m going to keep on working for the Kindom.

Jarell