I recently surveyed the history of sermons offered in our church. Over the past 25 years, we have addressed homosexuality 33 times. That may be a low estimate. What strikes me is that every single sermon repeats the same Bible verses over and over again. What we missed was an opportunity to equip our congregation to care for and extend Christ to LGBT+ loved ones. To those who squandered opportunities to share the presence of Christ with your gay friends and family because we failed to equip you, I am very sorry.
I have watched the LGBT+ kids of various church members disappear one by one over the years. They got to be 18 or 20 years old and suddenly vanished. I recently took the time to talk to some of these parents and I realized how lonely they have felt – how isolated they have been in their effort to love their adult children. My confession is this: other than an occasional ask about Joshua or Zac or Kim or Laura, I never did anything to really reach out to them personally; to look them up; or to invite them back. Sadly, none of these young people have eaten at my dinner table. Have they eaten at yours? To all of these young adults and their parents, I just need to say one thing: I love you and I am sorry.
Some of you are thinking: “Pastor, you’ve been here for 8 years. Why are you apologizing for things that were done 10, 20 or 30 years ago?” The answer is two-fold. First: this still happens today. Second: when we identify as the church of Jesus Christ, we take ownership not only for our watch but for every watch in the history of our church. How can we ever let the world know who Christ is today without taking ownership for the Jesus we offered yesterday? How can we ever right a wrong unless we feel the pain that we have inflicted – intentionally or not – upon others? It is my responsibility as a spiritual shepherd to care for the flock – including those sheep that have run away and those that have been pushed away. I do so under the authority of the Bible and the instruction of Christ’s example.
It makes no sense for me to claim “I was not here back then.” It is defensive to say “it’s not my fault.” There is no Gospel power in pretending “it never happened that way.” This is my watch and I am here to say that today is a new day. Today, I am confessing our wrongs to all LGBT+ people who ever were welcomed or disowned by this church and to every parent who ever felt they could not trust us to love their loved one.
This has been Part 2 of 4. Go to Part 3.
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