Guest Blogger Brenda Bos: Why Our Message Matters

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Today we hear from guest blogger Brenda Bos. She is currently on seminary internship at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Santa Monica. Brenda is a member of Proclaim and a 2012 Internship Grant recipient. She is a student at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. The Rev. Jim Boline is her internship supervisor. 

Why Our Message Matters

Bishop: Will you proclaim the good news of God’s grace and Jesus Christ to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in our area?

Intern: I will and I ask God to help me.

Bishop: Will you serve as a beacon of hope to Reconciling in Christ Congregations, and to other congregations who are prayerfully considering inclusivity?

Intern: I will and I ask God to help me.

And with those words I was installed as the first intern of the Los Angeles chapter of Reconciling Works.   The chapter decided it was time to hire someone to be intentional about getting our message of grace out to the wider LGBT community in Southern California.  But we also realized it was time to “check in” with the ELCA congregations in Southern California, offering support and encouragement to congregations who are wondering about welcome. 

You’ll notice similar themes coming up for Proclaim as we figure out how to serve the church going forward.  For some of us, we’ve been out and pretty comfortable for several years.  We forget there are still hundreds of LGBT Lutherans who don’t know how to get support on their journey.  And we need to continue to boldly reach out to them.   There are straight allies who must remain silent, and the silence is excruciating. 

In the simplest terms, people of faith fall on two sides of inclusivity.  One side believes their faith calls them to love all people.  The other side believes their faith calls them to exclude sinners.  Loving, faithful people are on both sides of this issue.  And I feel called to listen, respect and love those who truly feel called by God to exclude me.  I’ve been on their side of the issue, and so I have compassion for their struggle.  I have also experienced the amazing liberation of grace and wish to share that as well.  We continue to learn the painful lesson that anger and hatred do not move us forward: compassion and dialogue do.

So often progressive clergy feel they have to be politically correct.  We cannot thump the Bible too hard.  We have to apologize for Imperialistic Christianity.  We’re sorry for the sins of the church, including the sins we have been subjected to in our ordination and coming out processes. 

But there are conflicted Christians who need to hear from us.  We don’t do any favors when we wear a collar and don’t proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christians are looking for clergy to help them find their position on LGBT issues.  If we, as Lutheran clergy or lay leaders, do not stand boldly on the words of Jesus Christ, but rather hem and haw and try to find a politically correct “non-offensive” stance, we have become like so much tasteless salt. 

Conflicted Christians are those who read their Bibles and think they are supposed to judge sexual minorities, but also read Jesus’ messages of love over and over again.  It’s been said the anti-gay message tends to be from the writings of Paul, while the pro-gay messages tend to be from Jesus.  Now, I’m grateful to our brother Paul: I think we all became Christians because of his work.  But I’ll pick Jesus Christ over every other voice in the Bible every time. 

We are called to love boldly.  We are called to live rightly.  We are called to proclaim the love and grace of Jesus Christ, and we will.  And we ask God to help us. 

Brenda Bos is a member of the Proclaim Communications Duo and a 2012 Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries seminarian internship grant recipient. She lives in Pasadena, California with her partner Janis Reid.