Friday, May 15, 2015

Inclusivity #17 - CHURCH, MAY YOU REST IN PIECES IN PEACE


Robert Deidrick said in a Former Salvation Army Officers Fellowship chat site: Sven-I would be interested in seeing a future article on the possible split and division that might occur in the Salvation Army. If gay marriage becomes the law of the land in the USA what will the Army do? What will conservative Officers do? There may be mass resignations or many will request reassignment becoming social welfare officers rather than corps officers (church pastors). Will the Salvation Army become a new Volunteers of America? Will the Salvation Army in the USA become a YMCA type of icon? I do not see a great day and freedom for the same-sex marriage legislation. I see chaos and an open door to many issues and downfall.

The three folks wanting to marry each other is no joke. This issue, debate and demand will not end with same-sex marriage. The doors of hell will open and that is not me allowing fear to influence my thinking as shared prior.

Here is response # 1.


To the Dying Church,
I hardly know what to say. Watching someone you love, who helped raise you, who cared for you when you weren’t well, who partially defined who you would be, slowly perish before your eyes is difficult to say the least.

I love you. I don’t want to lose you.

But, this is life. These things happens. Those you love do die.

It’s just how it works. I mean, there were Churches before you. They may not have looked like you or sung songs like you or taught exactly what you do, but they all had Love – just different ways of expressing it. They changed people’s lives. They made some people better people and, sometimes, they made people worse people. Then, they died.

In all of it, Love was there somewhere hoping to be valued, hoping to be expressed, hoping to be shared.

Standing at the foot of your bed as you struggle to hold on, as you fight to catch a few last breaths, is uncomfortable and wonderful, all at the same time. Remembering the twinkle in your eye from my childhood, the liveliness of your step, is as beautiful and heartbreaking a thing as I can think of in this moment.

Death sucks.

But, there’s this one thing that you taught me. It’s something that I think really, truly, deeply matters.

In this moment, I don’t think it could matter more: when there is God, when there is Love, there are no endings, only new beginnings.

I’m going to miss you – so much – but I refuse to mourn you.
You will always be with me. The Love that has always sought to be known is still with us. The Spirit that is the Church will go on – thrive, even. It will just look different and sing differently and teach differently – but it will go on.

Because, while death sucks, Jesus us taught us that is does not get to have the final word.

The reality is that your reason for being, your very purpose, is to teach us about a living God.
How marvelously playful and mischievous of God (and quite frankly, how very God-like of God) to figure out how to do that over and over again through a dying Church. Like I said, this isn’t the first time you’ve died.

How perfectly upside-down of God to show us exactly how alive God is through a dying Church.

I really will miss you, truly, but I must admit I cannot wait to see what you will become on the other side. I’m so excited just thinking about the folks who will find new life in your new life. I get just a bit giddy thinking about the new places and space that Love will be shared. I get overwhelmed with joyfulness just thinking about the new ways you will learn to share Love.

But, right now, I watch you on your deathbed and I hope to sort out how to be the one sharing that Love with you.

You must be a little bit scared. I know I would be.

You must worry about the work that’s still to be done. I know it difficult, but try to trust in the work you’ve already done.
You have planted some pretty remarkable seeds. Trust that they will grow in new and beautiful ways.

I love you. I do.

I will be here with you until you are ready for what’s next and then we will dance in those new fields and share Love in ways we’ve never imagined.

Maybe this kind of death is a blessing after all. It’s so belovedly human to hold on so tightly to what we know that we constantly miss the opportunity to catch hold of something that might lead us to wider fields.

How very God-like of God to make death the beginning of a blessing.

So, just know, I am here. We are here. You can let go. We will water the seeds. We will nurture the fields and then we can dance in them again, together.

Peace
Mark Sandlin
Mark is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) from the South. He is a co-founder of The Christian Left. His blog, The God Article, was recently named as one of the “Top Ten Christian Blogs.” Mark received The Associated Church Press' Award of Excellence in 2012. His work has been published on "The Huffington Post," "Sojourners," "Time," "World Church Services," and even the "Richard Dawkins Foundation." He's been featured on PBS's "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" and NPR's "The Story with Dick Gordon." He’s married to an amazing Baptist minister and has two fabulous teenagers. 

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'd like to share that the Salvation Army is active in all the countries around the world that recognize same sex marriages - except Luxembourg.

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand, UK, and soon, Finland.

Active Salvationist

FORMER SALVATION ARMY OFFICERS FELLOWSHIP said...

Please note though that the countries you mention, with the exception of the UK, Canada and South Africa represent a small fraction of the SA soldiers world wide.

Kenya and Zimbabwe alone have more Salvation Army soldiers (church members), 300,00+, than all the above countries combined. And same-sex marriage is nowhere on their agenda. In fact, tens of thousands of Salvationists in these countries believe that homosexual orientation in itself constitutes sin.

Blessings

Anonymous said...


I'm just saying that the Army functions very well in countries were same sex marriages are recognized. Legalization in the USA (at the national level, since it's already recognized by several states) does not forebode the imminent demise of our organization.

Active Salvationist USA

FORMER SALVATION ARMY OFFICERS FELLOWSHIP said...

"I'm just saying that the Army functions very well in countries were same sex marriages are recognized."

I suggest that depends very much on your definition of 'functions well'.

If the definition includes a regular increase in the number of recruits, soldiers enrolled, officer candidates, and active officers the definition fails completely. Such growth is abysmal, but there are signs of a turn about!

However, their decline has no relevance what so ever to the Army's stance on same-sex issues, a very positive sign.

The FSAOF blog will return to this subject on Monday, May 18

Sven Ljungholm

Anonymous said...

I think of an old church creed still used in many churches that apply here: "Christ came, Christ comes, Christ is Coming Again!" I (and many others) interpret it as meaning: "Christ came in the flesh, Christ comes through the work of the Holy Spirit and Christ will come again through the renewing of the Church by the continual working of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church." Thus I agree with the author of the article completely.

As for TSA, it is a God thing. It was raised by God for a specific purpose and God will sustain it through periods of numerical ups and downs as proven by all of the past schisms it had in first world countries over its history.

When decades ago, I first heard it was dying and would soon be no more(by crapehangers who had no sense of a historical perspective on anything), I refused to buy it then and I still don't buy it now.

TSA is in fact changing due to a completely different social milieu in first world countries that has not yet occurred in third world countries----and as far as I'm concerned in many ways it has changed and will continue to change for the better.

Daryl Lach
USA Central

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross, To Stand With Jesus In the Morning!"

Anonymous said...

I believe that the Salvation Army will have serious choices presented to it in the USA. When the Supreme Court votes to require all 50 states to allow same sex marriage it will affect many other areas of operation in the Salvation Army USA. There will be various intrusions as to who can be officers and soldiers by government and others outside of the organization. Same sex marriage is only the beginning.There will be some chaos. I am not sure how much but it will present itself.There will be some division. This may take some time but in many private conversations I am hearing discontent. Other countries and societies handle this differently, so it would be unfair for me to speak of how other countries have handled this.

Robert Deidrick, Major Western Territory USA

Anonymous said...

Dear Major Deidrick,

You're getting yourself all worked up over nothing. The cure for it is to STOP watching the FOX NEWS CHANNEL. The distortions and paranoia they produce amongst we older, usually white, middle class people in this country, help no one and do absolutely nothing positive for political discourse.

The government CAN NOT tell TSA who can and can not be soldiers and officers. As for gays in TSA who are there and have always been there, they should be able to still remain as officers and soldiers as long as they adhere to the principles of sexual purity and fidelity after and within the bounds of marriage. It's the same as has always been the principle for straight Salvationists----even though, as is true in all churches, a certain percentage of straight officers and soldiers haven't always lived up to the ideal themselves--and have had to be disciplined from time to time--AND you know it, as well as all the rest of us know it! So, exactly what then would be so different and un-Christ like about the "new" social paradigm?

You may also be upset about what the gay press and individual gays have been writing so negatively about concerning TSA on the internet? I have been too, and wherever possible have from time to time (along with several others) attempted to counteract the ignorance in comments sections wherever possible. Much of the ignorance on the part of the gay public, from what I can see, is connected to not knowing or understanding the difference(s) between adherents, soldiers, officers, employees, volunteers, advisory board members, corps work, social services work and/or the history and evolution as a movement of TSA in the last 150 years. Much of the problem could easily be corrected if NHQ (in the USA anyway) would hire someone to answer these assaults on a daily basis via the internet--and not just with set, pat answers as seems to be what USA National does on Facebook and which anyone can easily see through immediately.

Oh, and it might also help if the more fundamentalist elements of TSA (the same bunch as can be seen in every other church)would be taught to develop some tact and/or learn to shut the blank up.

Daryl Lach
USA Central

P.S. Missed conversing with you on line Major. It's always been a lot of fun. I've been praying for you that you'd be happy and fulfilled in your new appointment in the USA West, since you've been reinstated. I drove through Phoenix last summer and wished I wasn't in such a hurry to get to Long Beach and could've stopped by and taken you out to lunch. God Bless You Major and Best Wishes for the future!

Anonymous said...

I wish Daryl Lach would stop bashing fundamentalists. It's a constant mantra in all his postings, and sooooo boring and predictable. EVERYONE is entitled to their sincerely held beliefs, no matter what their stance on biblical interpretation. His constant droning is irritating to say the least, and arrogant as well. No-one has the monopoly on truth. So maybe his less-than-seemly advice in his last sentence (beginning Oh...) could be directed towards himself as well. That would be good.

Anonymous said...

How does Fundamentalist bashing feel? I'd imagine just the same as Gay bashing without the physical violence.

Anonymous said...

uh huh,

Daryl Lach
USA Central

P.S. Never once have I ever said that fundamentalists can't be good, loving people, or that they don't have their own personal moments of enlightenment and truth, or that "moderates"(as the Southern Baptists called everyone else in their own denomination at one time, before driving them all out --including a wonderful Xian man named Jimmy Carter) can't be a bunch of pains in the neck as well.

My premise has always been that: (1.) Xian fundamentalism as a movement for the past 120 years or so, is NOT historic Christianity, (2). it IS a heresy that has caused tons of grief to/for tons of people in this world (btw, I'm not comparing it to Islamic fundamentalism, they're both their own creatures that work in their own ways), that (3.) TSA's doctrine and theology is much wider than Xian fundamentalism, (4.)that Salvationists with a fundamentalist bent and proudly claim to be, as if someone should present them with an award of some kind for it, are NOT the only "true" Xians in the Army and that lastly (5.) if TSA's leadership allows TSA's fundamentalists to take over and be spokesmen and women for the Army, the Army will be headed for its own version of the above fore mentioned grief!

You may find it all quite boring and predictable commenter # 8 but the street does run both ways and I can pretty much say the same thing about your commentary over the past year or two also. ("Yada, yada, yada, the Army's not what it use to be in its glory days back when everyone was "supposedly" a biblical literalist like me (not true) yada, yada, yada, some more, the old ship of Zion is sinking fast, everyone hurry up and get on board, yada, yada, yada, on and on ad nauseum.")

"You Must Go Home By the Way of the Cross, To Stand With Jesus In the Morning!

Anonymous said...

As this is a website, there is no physical violence towards anyone.

Anonymous said...

Btw, Commenter # 9,

LUV IT!

One can also add "constant threats of physical violence" to the mix too, which can be every bit as devastating--and particularly so when it's done in the name of Jesus.

Daryl Lach
USA Central

Anonymous said...

"Never once have I ever said..." - how condescending. Your comments (if you read them back to yourself) give the impression of being the only authority one needs to be 'set free'. Perhaps a little humility wouldn't go amiss. Try it. And accept that some people are never going to change their minds over this issue, no matter how much you would like them to. AND they hold their views with a clear conscience, just as you do. Perhaps SA leaders see things differently from you - I was at a business SA meeting yesterday, and there is very real concern about falling numbers, lack of zeal etc in my territory at least, and a VERY real concern about the future of the SA church - and this is BEFORE there is full inclusion.

Anonymous said...

I don't get all this 'physical violence' stuff that's been mentioned whenever this subject comes up. Been in TSA for a long, long time but thankfully have never experienced it or seen it happen. Does this really happen within SA circles?

Anonymous said...

"God, why do you pile all these troubles upon us? It's because of the Gays, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is," says God.

"I knew it! You're punishing the Church Universal and The Salvation Army for their abominations!"

"Oh, No No No! Not at all. I'm punishing you for the SHITTY way you treat them."

Anonymous said...

Daryl,

I would have enjoyed meeting with you Daryl.I will be moving out of the valley that I love and will be moving to Chico, California in July. My wife and I will be Administrators at a Rehab Program there for the Del Oro Division.
Major Bob