Offered for clarification;
"The Marriage Covenant Renewal" service is an idea that’s been around for over 30 years and I have been offering it by that name for almost that long.
In this day and age of high divorce rates and tragically broken relationships, it is important to share some of the things that make marriage work and grow stronger. That's the point of giving married couples a chance to renew their vows and grow closer together.
Unfortunately, it stirs up many feelings. There are those who are widowed, separated, divorced and never married. There are many who live in troubled marriages and are reminded of dreams now shattered.
Many people have some of the same feelings you may have. You’re not alone.
To even talk about marriage in any context often raises issues and problems of great pain and tragedy. Nevertheless, it's true, we must continue the conversation in all its facets.
An invitation was sent because we send invitations to all the members of our community, both in the church community and in the Facebook community of the church. To not send an invitation to any one individual would have been excluding them.
As part of our family, you and everyone on the list received an invitation and are welcome, ...just as if you had a close member of your immediate family were getting married. The invitation simply asks you to be there to support and pray for their marriage even if you were not part of the wedding party.
And yes, it is vitally true that Christ welcomes all in order to receive God’s love at all levels. The purpose of this invitation is so that each one of us can be profoundly changed.
Christ’s table is all about recognizing that there’s much to change in us than just a Baptism moment. And so we come to the table to humbly receive Christ once again in our hearts, knowing that we've fallen short, missed the mark of God's dreams for us.
At that table, we ask for the wisdom of God to help us repent, and the strength of God's forgiveness to keep us changing into God's image of us. It’s something we all need to do.
And so the invitation is always out to all of us to come and be part of a place that challenges us, heals us and offers us a commitment to a deeper love than we've ever known before.
As for our denomination, our UMC book of discipline states, “Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” (¶341.6 2008 Book of Discipline, UMC) The sacred ordination vow is about (in part) the upholding this book as the definition of a United Methodist. It’s a chargeable offense against that vow to do anything different.
The UMC denomination has been wrestling with this issue for over 25 years and there are good and faithful people on both sides of the issue. Perhaps this issue will be resolved in the future, perhaps there is a "third way" out of this struggle, I don't know, but until that future is discerned, the current implications are clear.
Thank you for your prayers and good wishes.
Our world is filled with all sorts of pain and tragedy and I believe that all of us, in our limited ways, are trying to move through it with as much grace and repentance, healing and forgiveness as we can.
With God’s help, that is my prayer for you and for all of us.
"Life is messy. Even with the best of intentions we often hurt one another."
Grace and Peace,