Tuesday 25 March 2014

Psalm 23: Shepherds, Bishops, and my Gay and Lesbian Friends

Each day throughout Lent my early morning meditation is focusing on a verse or two from the Psalms, linking this in with a photo I have taken, or one taken of me, over the past decades - and then sharing it on Facebook. This morning I found my praying impelled in a very specific direction as I meditated on two familiar verses from Psalm 23. This is how I shared it on Facebook-

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. Psalm 23:2,3

Strange you may think, but as I meditated on these two verses I was led to pray for my many clergy friends who are gay or lesbian. My meditation developed along these lines ....

 When I was privileged to spend a day with a hill farmer in South Lancashire shadowing him throughout his long and demanding day's work, I saw something of the close bonding between shepherd and sheep: the relationship of trust and confidence that the shepherd would not fail the lamb who stuck close to his side.

They speak to me, as to many, of the calling to be a shepherd, a guide, a confidante for others. To be the one who will not fail or lead astray. Yet, at times we struggle to find those green pastures for those who look to us for sustenance and support.

I see that at the moment particularly with my gay and lesbian clergy friends. How can their shepherds (or bishops) help them find still waters in the rough seas developing between and within our Church of England and the law of the land on equal marriage.

There are green pastures and still waters ahead, of that I am confident, though the terrain is pretty rocky at the moment, and the waters are decidedly choppy! But I find it a privilege to stand alongside my brothers and sisters and search for that right path for them in the relationships that God has given them.


...  and two further thoughts

... the thought to which I return again and again is that the Church is in the business of blessing and promoting lifelong faithful love. My wife and I were richly blessed by God, the church, and all our friends and neighbours without exception throughout our married life - and I am convinced that God desires similar for those who are born for union with one of the same sex. With the first same sex marriages taking place this Friday the Church must find ways of supporting, blessing and celebrating with those who chose a life of faithful committed love with their partner.

... and I know that many bishops are conflicted as to how to be a shepherd to their LGBT clergy (and lay people as well) so I pray for them too.

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