Tonight, there are even more Lutherans than usual in Minneapolis. The 2009 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA has opened. Reports of a lively opening service and productive first plenary session are flowing over the internet. ELCA.org even has live video of the sessions as they're happening, although I doubt I'll follow those. I'm glad they're there, but for me, it's enough to catch reports from Facebook friends who are there. I'm obsessing over the Assembly enough as it is.
Honestly, over this past weekend, I've been surprising myself with how obsessed, and I mean anxious I am over this assembly. Two weeks ago, I would have said it is an important gathering, and I've been saying for weeks that whatever happens, I imagine I'll be in tears before the weeks over---whether joy or disappointment remains to be seen. But this past weekend, this feeling has ramped up and I'm full fledge anxious and a little moody about it. I'm daydreaming about what I will do one way or another. I hadn't consciously thought about it much, how much this Assembly might create paths for me. Sort of, a little, but I hadn't let myself dwell on it. This week, I'm dwelling on it. This assembly has some life-changing potential for me. And I'm in knots. Tears by the end of the week? I've had to find a private space once or twice to dab my eyes already.
I'm being vague. Well, I swim in the sea of ambiguity (as my campus pastor once told me). Let it suffice for now that I'm finding an even more personal stake in this assembly than I've allowed myself to acknowledge.
But of course, this assembly isn't all about me. (Shocking, but true.) I'm gay, I have an M.Div., and I admit I've been hearing God knock on my metaphorical door for about 3 years now. But there is much more at stake than what path lies before me.
What's at stake is the next generation, the kids who don't even know yet if they're gay or straight. What's at stake are the kids who were picked on by their teachers, as reported last week, because they were perceived to be gay. It's about the 11-year-old boy who killed himself last spring because he was bullied at school, because the kids at school perceived him to be gay. It's about endless incidents like the above that go unreported but happen because there are not enough places standing up for these kids. Whether they are gay or not is beside the point. I can't find the reference, but in at least one incident, a suicide left a note saying he wasn't even sure if he was gay or not, he just couldn't take the bullying anymore. It's the way "gay" is used to demean and bully and destroy kids. That's what this is about.
We need another church body to openly say, "you are fully welcome here, not just tolerated but fully allowed to explore the full range of vocational options in this church." As long as bullies see the church denying us full inclusion and participation, the bullies find a loophole to justify their cruelty.
And that's what this Assembly is about. It's about saving kids lives, literally and figuratively.
That is what is at stake.
Lord have mercy.