“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13
That is one of many peoples favorite snippets of Scripture. It is from Paul in one of his many letters to the early church. How strange it is to contrast this against the ‘other’ scripture, the one that will be debated in St. Louis next week. I’m talking about Romans 1: 26 – 32 or since what will be debated ignores most of that scripture then we focus on Romans 1: 26 & 27, where, by some, people claim this means that God hates homosexuals.
In 1972, the United Methodist Church added discriminatory language specifically against homosexuals to the ‘rules of the UMC’ in the book called ‘The book of discipline.’ They were very thorough in there additions citing everything from calling it a sin, to prohibiting gay marriage and gay clergy. There was also language prohibiting clergy from supporting gay rights, and prohibiting financially supporting anything to due with gay and lesbian issues, with a single exception, the “HIV epidemic.”
Of course, there was no mention of the other things Paul wrote in the next section… “They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.” Imagine if they had included ‘inventors of evil?’ My dad worked for the defense industry, certainly people who make weapons would be considered ‘inventors of evil’ as would many, many others in 1972 but they were the majority…..
All this is to say, I am happy to have been sent to this church, West Springfield UMC to be their pastor. Early on WSUMC joined an organization called ‘Reconciling Ministries‘ – a voluntary group who focus is on acceptance of all God’s children. WSUMC planted their feet firmly in the 1 Corinthians 13:13 soil long before I arrived.
I preached a sermon on Feb 3rd, 2019 based on Paul’s Corinthian writings. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here.
In closing I ask each of you to pray for the delegates to the General Session in St. Louis. Pray that they are overwhelmed by God’s love and grace.