Thursday, November 20, 2014

Make Our Light Shine!

            Is it time for church leaders to ‘make our light shine’? We’ve been living under the clay pot of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”. Maybe now is the time to place our lamps on a lampstand where it can give light to everyone in our church. God might be calling us to tell our stories of celebrating same gender weddings and other stories of ministry with and hospitality toward all people.   
Tom Robinson, a Detroit pastor, shared a powerful story at our Signing Celebration on November 12th. The story was about Moseli, an African American with a tremendous voice who worked as a nanny for a prestigious white family. She would take the children to church every Sunday at the white church.
            One Sunday she asked the pastor if she could sing at their Christmas Party.  The pastor would have said “no” except for the fact that the man Moseli worked for was an important leader in the church.
            Just before Moseli got up to sing, the ushers carried a screen to the front of the sanctuary. They escorted Moseli behind the screen from where she sang, “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”. At the end of the story, Tom’s father said to Tom, “Today we’re behind the screen. But tomorrow we’ll be in front of the screen.”
            This analogy applies to so many of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters who are kept behind the screen by their church. It also applies to so many in our churches who are expressing God’s inclusive love for all, but are doing their good works behind the screen.
            Jesus said, “You are like light for the whole world. A city built on top of a hill cannot be hidden, and no one would light a lamp and put it under a clay pot. A lamp is placed on a lampstand, where it can give light to everyone in the house. Make your light shine, so that others will see the good that you do and will praise your Father in heaven.”
            Is it time for church leaders to ‘make our light shine’? Our church has placed us behind the screen and under a clay pot with the threat of a church trial and removing our ministerial credentials. But maybe now is the time to “make our light shine.”
I felt God calling me to do that after my daughter told me she was getting married. I’ve kept my light under the clay pot and behind the screen for years. I didn’t want to upset people in the churches I served. But this Lent when I reflected on Jesus’ decision to go to Jerusalem, I heard the call to make my light shine. That decision was confirmed when I heard our Bishop at Annual Conference preach about the courage of the midwives in the face of the Pharaoh. I knew I was not only supposed to officiate at Sarah’s wedding, but also tell my District Superintendent and others what I did. I was supposed to place my lamp on a lampstand.

            Maybe now is the time for you to “make your light shine.” One way you might do that is to write your story of ministry to all people, especially our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Then share that story with others. One way to share the story is through this blog. I’m willing to post your story on this blog site. Send them to me via my e-mail at michaeljamestupper at 

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