Grace Upon Grace

Kairos Sunday School Class

Look closely at the faces in the picture above. Look at those smiles! These are the faces of people who have taken to heart the United Methodist tag line, “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” My Sunday school class, the Kairos Class at Belmont United Methodist Church, officially became a Reconciling Class and joined the Reconciling Ministries Network today.

In their class statement, class members have said,

The Kairos Class is open to people of all races, sexual orientations, gender identities, and backgrounds who feel the ‘fierce urgency of now’ (M.L. King) in striving for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. As a convenantal community, we are committed to gathering faithfully in hospitable fellowship, practicing the means of grace, studying the scriptures, reflecting theologically on the social issues of our time, serving the ‘least of these,’ working for justice, and holding on another accountable to following Jesus in our everyday lives.

Today’s celebration of joining the Reconciling Ministries Network was an action that put flesh, bone, and smiles to that statement.

From the opening words of the celebration:

No matter where you come from or where you’re going, no matter what you believe or what you doubt, no matter what you feel or just don’t feel today, and no matter who you love — you are welcome to come and bring all of who you are into this space to be met by a God who knows you by name and wants to have a relationship with you.

I was asked to share my story with the class today. Yikes! I have spent a lifetime hiding my story, not only from others, but also from myself. I pride myself in being a good storyteller, but location (growing up in a small town in Tennessee), age (I was born in the mid-60s) and yes, religion (United Methodist, whose Book of Discipline still has the phrase “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”) have taught me to refrain from telling that particular story, the story about my being gay. I have been “out” for several years now, and yet it is hard to silence the voices inside me that tell me to avoid self-disclosure, to be quiet, to refrain from being pushy, or to run the risk of offending someone with the story of who I am. I’ve basically lived my life under the policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and I’m only now realizing how badly that can screw up your life. I went to class this morning not knowing what to say and still afraid of what to say, even though I rationally knew there was nothing to be afraid of in this class, among these smiling faces.

We started by going around the room and introducing ourselves. I thought that was a strange way to begin, I recognized most everyone there. We shared names only, not who we were married to or what we did for a living. As we went around the circle I had to suppress a laugh. On the way into town, I told my kids that I was going to talk to the class about my story. I asked them for advice on what to say. Sam said, “Start out by saying, ‘My name is Doug, and I am a homosexual.'” We laughed. I am thankful that they can laugh about my story, which is so much their story!

The people who knew each other already shared their names anyway, and we read that second quote above. That’s when it hit me like ton of bricks: the people in this room, they already knew my name, and they already knew my story. They were here to welcome me. Despite my fears, they encourage dme to come and to bring all of who I was into that space. They knew me by name and wanted be in relationship with me. I went on to share my story. I’m not sure what I said. But I am sure that in that instant, as they smiled, nodded, laughed, and cried while I spoke, they where the presence of Christ to me.

In joining the Reconciling Ministries Network and becoming a Reconciling Class, The people of Kairos aren’t doing anything special or noteworthy from a Christian point of view. At the same time, we are doing the most important, most necessary act a Christian can do. In this moment, we are living out the great commandment to love God and to love our neighbor. And we are doing it by God’s grace, revealed in Jesus Christ.

WordPress is a big place. Who knows? Maybe a link or a search will bring you to this post, and maybe what I have written will speak to you, especially the two quotes that describe what the Kairos Sunday school class is like. Maybe you belong to a Sunday school class or a church that has been moving to open its doors to all people. Follow the link to the Reconciling Ministries Network web site and get more information about next steps.

Or maybe you live in the Nashville area and you are looking for a Christian community, but you need to know that you would be welcomed if you came. If that’s you, meet us on Sunday at 9:15 AM. We’ll start the class by learning your name.

One thought on “Grace Upon Grace

  1. Pingback: And the Gays Score a Knockout! « icanhasgrace

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