Sunday, April 27, 2008

Firday's Drum Circle Witness

One of the most amazing witnesses I have ever been a part of was the drum circle hosted by MoSAIC (Methodist Students for an All-Inclusive Church). I have to admit, as I heard about this witness a couple of months in advance, I wasn't sure how I thought it would go. A good idea for sure, but I had NO idea (did anyone?) it would be as successful as it was.

Just before noon on Friday, MoSAIC set up a large (white sheet) sign with their logo on it in the park across from the main entrance of the Convention Center where General Conference is being held. There was also a sign that made a statement about a need for full inclusion of all Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, and Queer persons in the church. Once the drums began, the continued for 26 1/2 hours... a peaceful witness (NOT a protest!) of the great need for inclusiveness in The United Methodist Church.

When my legislation let out on Friday night, I went to support them with intentions of drumming for about 20 minutes before heading home for some much-needed sleep...

Only about 5 minutes after I showed up, some men from a local Baptist Church came to talk to us. They came out of genuine, Christian concern that what we are standing for is not in line with the teachings of the Church and of Christ. They came to teach us the "right" way of reading Scripture, to make us understand the error of our ways, the sinfulness of things like homosexuality, drum beats and dancing and of having women speak in public places, taking leadership roles in the church... all things of the devil for which we are going to hell...

I sincerely enjoyed taking time to speak with these well-intentioned men with whom I completely disagreed. By chance, I had my long hair down, was wearing a dress, and was using only an egg shaker for the "beat" when they came by. This proved to be very helpful of them being willing to hear me out, as I clearly am more of a Christian than my sisters in pants with short hair...

This short conversation lasted three hours and developed into some thought-provoking questions from both sides. I even became the focus of their group as they became far more flustered than I and had to rotate/take turns talking to me because they didn't know how to respond once they discovered that I was not only as well versed in the Bible as they were, but also comfortable speaking with them and able to do so with genuine love and without getting upset or angry. I really do appreciate their genuine love for others and their concern for salvation, believing with all that they are that this is the place Christ has called them to be. Who can deny the call they have, the passion they share, and the dedication they offer? I completely disagree with them on most things, but was not about to allow our conversation to focus on those things. Rather, my hope was that they could see the things we share- a love and dedication to living our lives for Christ. A believe that Holy Scriptures are God-breathed. A conviction of the importance of evangelism and sharing that love and compassion with others in the world...

I spoke with my Baptist friends for about 2 straight hours. I then stayed another 2 hours... a time during which I shared in fellowship, song, drumming, dance, and prayer (oh! the powerful joy of the opportunity to pray for such a group in the middle of this witness!! I felt so privileged to be invited to do so!). Throughout these 4 hours, I think I talked to every one of our visiting guests of honor (the protesters), as they kept asking the new ones to come and talk to me as they arrived. They all had great stories to share. I hope they were able to learn something from me as I was from them.

Just before I left, someone brought flowers for them as a sign of peace, of the love of God we truly desire to share with all people. One at a time, they refused to accept them. As I left, I took flowers to each of the men I spoke with, thanked them for their time and asked that they continue to pray for me as I would for them. That one day we would be reconciled and united as one body in Christ. None of the men would accept, few would even shake my hand. Until the last man I came to. He was also the first I spoke to that evening... (paraphrased...)
"Brother," I said, "please accept this gift as a sign of our shared love for Christ. As a sign of the peace he brings to us, as a sign of the covenant of new life to which we both cling to and as a symbol of our unity and love for our God."
"Why do you keep calling me brother?" he asked me. "How do I know you're a Christian if you're a part of all of this?"
"I guess you don't. Only Christ knows what lies on our hearts. But like you, I believe I too am saved. I know that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, and I know that as a professing Christian, there is no other person or thing I would rather center my life around. I also know that the passion for a God you professed to us here tonight is undeniable. I know that even though we disagree on some pretty important issues, we can agree to disagree... but that we are still united in the one body of Christ. And as children of God, we are called to love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ..."
"so you are saved?"
"If that means do I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior, then yes."
"Ok then. I guess you can call me brother."
"Thank you, brother. I'll be praying for you, and hope you'll continue to do the same for me."

He took the flower, I shook his hand, and walked away. Truly, this was a holy moment and a huge moment of reconciliation and peace between us. The Spirit was on the move, and no one could stop it. I am honored to have shared in this moment, and was sad to have to leave when I did, knowing that I was truly in the presence of God in that place on Friday night.

As I continue to pray for unity and full inclusion in the Church, I also pray for my brothers who paid us a visit that night.

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