NOTE FROM PASTOR J R FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT, MARCH 13, 2016

“Those who sow with tears, will reap with songs of joy.” Psalms 126:5

On Thursday, I attended the Faith in Action Alabama (FIAA) Steering Committee meeting in Montgomery with about 30 clergy in attendance from Huntsville to Mobile. FIAA is an attempt to be a faith based voice that stretches across the varied faith traditions in AL that lives in response to Micah 6:8, “…What does the Lord require of you but to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.”

FIAA is in its developmental stage in which we are getting to know one another and building bridges with each other so while very diverse we can still operate from a sense of shared goals and purpose. This is not easy work, for it requires us to share our stories with each other. It also requires us to say uncomfortable things to each other. As one of two known LGBTQ persons present (the other Rev. Paul Eknes-Tucker), often I find myself having to say things to my fellow clergy that is hard for some of them to grapple with. Yet, if FIAA is going to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” our presence at the table must be fully welcomed.

In response to a point being made, I felt the need to note that not all of us at the table come from monolithic churches where all the members are roughly from the same background, the same race, the same community, etc. I shared that Covenant, where I serve, is a very diverse church where I’m Black and the largest demographic is white. Before I could finish a Church of God in Christ pastor interrupted and asked “how did that happen?” My response was “because most of my congregation is gay.” To my surprise there were no eyebrows raised or uncomfortable moments at all. (Now, to be sure, I have not been attending these meeting as a secret disciple or incognito. It’s just that many of those present were not there when I first shared my story.)

That moment was not lost on me. How was it in a meeting that included presiding Elders of the AME & CME churches, a Rabbi, Catholic priests, and clergy from the Church of God in Christ, Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Presbyterians, UCC, Primitive Baptists and Missionary Baptists, that there was no uncomfortable discernable moments with that bit of information? I left emotionally on a high note.

As I got in my car and began making my way back to Birmingham, I kept thinking about the moment and I sort of smiled. Then turned emotional when I thought about how many have sown in tears the seeds that allowed me to have that moment to sing with joy. It reminded me of how special Covenant, with our diversity, is with our being willing to lay aside our many differences to operate from a shared goal of “Being an inclusive community of faith + Offering Hope + Showing Faithfulness +Sharing Joy.”

I invite you to join us in worship this Sunday at Covenant on our goal of “sowing in tears” but “reaping songs of joy.” Deacon Susan Green will be preaching a sermon called “Sowing in Tears” based on the scriptural texts from “Psalms 125:5-6” and Ruth 1:11-18.”

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