“The Spirit Has Spoken”
The Priests in the earliest history of the Israelites used to cast lots to make their decisions. It was believed that God would manipulate the toss and His/Her will would be revealed. Two stones, called Urim and Thummim, were kept on hand, in the Priest’s breastplate, ready to help determine the will of God.
We modern Presbyterians don’t use such devices. We pray and then vote on things in order to make our decisions regarding jGod’s will for our congregations or at higher levels of our church government. We believe that through prayer and discussion we can come to a consensus as to what the Holy Spirit is asking us to do. We reveal that consensus by means of a vote.
Just this week, after years of discussion, prayer, debating, prayer, meditation and a great deal more of prayer, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada voted for full inclusion of LGBTQ people. That means that whether your gay or straight, you can be married and ordained within our denomination. No exceptions. Everyone is in. No one is out.
I believe that this is God’s will as reflected in the vote that was taken. The majority of voters expressed their belief that the Holy Spirit was indicating we needed to change. Our vote, therefore, was not simply based on the whim or will of a physical group of people. It was based on the movement of the Holy Spirit, a Spiritual influence on physical minds. Through the Holy Spirit, God spoke to the Presbyterian Church in Canada and said: “Please make sure that everyone in your church is allowed to be married and ordained, regardless of their sexual orientation.”
This significant vote is not the end of the process. It is the beginning of a year-long process of further discernment. The General Assembly will now seek the will of the larger church to finalize the choice to be inclusive. Ultimately, this will come down to another round of voting, another round of listening for the Holy Spirit’s affirmation of the choice already made by the General Assembly.
It’s an exciting and nerve-wracking period in history for the Presbyterian Church in Canada. We are trying to honour and serve God fully and faithfully with this decision. I believe that full affirmation and inclusion of LGBTQ people is long overdue. It is, after all, about loving one another as Christ loves us. Jesus told us to love one another as we would be loved. In this case, we are choosing to right a wrong. We are finally seeing LGBTQ people as peers and equals, fully worthy of love and all the privileges and rights offered within the Presbyterian Church in Canada.
In order to right this wrong, we have prayerfully and thoughtfully sought God’s voice. Through the vote recently taken, the Holy Spirit has spoken and moved us forward. This is not simply a human choice. It is God’s own voice calling us to love everyone and to include them fully. Gay or straight, we are all God’s children. It’s high-time we see and affirm each other as such.