Sunday, October 16, 2011

Bigots in Sunday School

Today I was called a bigot that hates gays.  Actually Michael and I both get to claim that insult.  The person flinging it didn't mean to call us names.  He just didn't realize that the group he felt justified in stereotyping accidentally included us.  And we happened to be there.  In the same Sunday school class.  Right across the table from him.  The group we belong to?  The one that makes us automatically gay haters?

We're Anglicans.

Yep.  That's it.  Anglicans.  (Such a dirty word, don't you think?)

Problem is, the stereotype doesn't fit.  In fact, it is the opposite of the truth.  Because the Anglican church we still claim as home teaches about loving each person as made by God in the image of God.  We all fall short; we all walk around as sinners; we all need God's redeeming love.  It teaches focusing on Christ.  The issue of gays?  Well now, that's left up to debate amongst the members.  Some might say that being gay is a sin, while others might give genetics all the credit.  They'd go on to state that there's no sin in God's initial creation.   But everybody, no matter the person's opinion or sexuality, gets God's love.  And no matter the debate of what is sin, all are to focus on Christ.  On being Christ to each other.

Michael looked across the table at the man after I explained to him that he was actually insulting us.  We were, in fact, Anglican.  He had that "deer in headlights" look for a moment before he recovered.  We went on to point out we didn't really care what name a church had.  We cared what they claimed as their focus.  As their mission statement.  We cared about Christ being the center of the church.  Any church.  Especially the one we chose for worship.  He looked at us with skepticism as he said he couldn't imagine a church NOT being Christ centered.


Should we go there?

Michael simply pointed to the framed drawing of Christ hanging in the room.  And then Michael said, "I am here for Him.  I am not making a political statement with my presence.  I am not making any statement with my presence.  I am here for Him.  Just Him.  It's all about Him."

That guy.  The one that called us a bigot, had to leave because he was the reader of the scriptures for the next service.  But the whole conversation made me wonder how many times assumptions and stereotypes I make, whether voiced out loud or merely thought in my mind, fall as far from the truth as today's did. 

How am I focusing on being Christ to others?  How am I the hands and feet of Jesus?  How am I judging others unfairly?  Am I a part of a healthy branch on God's vine or am I a part of a diseased one? 

Anyway, all this to say, you gotta love Sunday school....well....

and maybe one or two bigots.

.....At least Jesus did.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Choosing grace: YPA

There's this kid that's fourteen years old, just over six feet tall, whose body releases growth hormone at a faster pace than his peers, and as a result he has poor muscle development.  His muscles can't keep up with his growth so he is left weaker than his peers.  He walks everywhere, but he walks as an older feeble person may walk, taking stairs one at a time, slowly.  Holding up the whole line behind him kind of slow.

There's another kid, a would be popular kid, his peer, that loves the first kid dearly, and so he helps him every day and every time they must take the stairs.  This kid holds his arm out and supports his friend and offers a steady, stable balance for the first kid. 

It's beautiful to watch. 

There's also a kid in a wheelchair with limited body movement.  Pinching a bite of food and moving it to his mouth can be called labor.  Yet he does it.  Every meal.  He could just get his shadow to feed him everything.  But he chooses to labor for himself when at all possible.  As a tool to help him get around, he rides in a motorized scooter, and since he's eleven, it's a pretty cool thing to own.  Every day before lunch he rides his scooter in the gym in circles as fast as he can go, entertaining the detention kids with his tricks.  They clap for him if the other teachers aren't paying attention. 

I stuggle to decide between public, private, and homeschool.  I mentally second guess our decisions for our kids' education.  This school has lots of problems that accompany its newness and its lack of funding.  But what I love about it is that the school's shortcomings have not translated into lack of grace among the students.  Mixed in with the normal population is the understanding that each person present is socially acceptable.  Each and every one.  It's a matter of choice, of these students choosing to extend grace to each other and therefore accepting each other.  Of offering the opportunity for joy in place of fear.  Just grace.  It seems small, but it makes all the difference.

Again, it's beautiful to watch.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25:40