Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gay GD Class: Mars Hill and the Unknown God

This is another in the Gay Gospel Doctrine Class series of posts that takes a lesson from the LDS Church’s (Adult) Gospel Doctrine class and presents it from a gay perspective.  Today’s lesson is based on Lesson #31 in the Gospel Doctrine Manual (“And So Were the Churches Established in Faith”) and was prepared by Trey.

The scriptural text for today’s lesson topic is an account of Paul’s missionary travels, experiences, and teachings.  I was somewhat intrigued (and amused) at the outset by the mention of some dissension in the missionary ranks. 

“And the contention was so sharp between them, 
that they departed asunder one from the other …”

 Acts 15:39

The old adage, “some things never change”, comes to mind.

I wondered how to derive from these pretty-much-geographically-oriented passages of scripture and Paul’s pedantics something meaningful for this blog’s Sunday readership.  It occurred to me that the significance lay not so much in the details of what Paul said or did, but in the concept and divinity of what he was about.  And what he was about was not so much different in practice or principle as that which occurred in a relatively obscure contemplation meeting held this past Sunday at the United Methodist Church in Salt Lake City.

According to scriptural account, Paul had gone through a significant spiritual, emotional, and social metamorphosis, his true persona having been divinely finished and set free.  It was only after he became his own true self that he could cast off deeply-rooted beliefs and ideology, engage his natural talents, unclog spiritual channels, and perform his most important work: helping others to achieve the same.  It was almost as if he had to experience in order to know – a sort of rhetorical imperative.

While preaching on Mars Hill in Athens, Paul was challenged in his attempt to persuade and reason with the strong-willed idol worshipers of the town until he recalled seeing a monument to the Unknown God.  Seizing this inspired opportunity, and capitalizing on his hearer’s love of hearing or telling “some new thing” he was able to connect and relate to them.

It is has been said that God moves in mysterious ways to bless, inspire, succor those in need, and open doors.  I know that unseen hands have moved in my behalf; I know they have moved in yours.  I witnessed examples of divine love and discipleship on Sunday.  Invictus Pilgrim (IP) was asked to give an account of his, may I say, significant spiritual, emotional, and social metamorphosis, the which by his own admission, continues to be an evolving, finishing, process.

You can read the text of his Sunday speech here, if you haven’t already.  In it, he relates that, not too many months ago, he had, what I will take license to call, a Paul-like experience that began a painful, changing, process in which he has had to cast off deep-rooted beliefs and ideologies and learn to recognize and accept new truths about himself and his spiritual and social place in the community of life.   Many of us have had to go through or are currently going through similar experiences.  Some, like IP and other bloggers, cinematic artists, and other communicators, have the talent and the spiritual channel to reach out in missionary-like fashion to those in need of hope, comfort, and faith.

Like IP, I too had to align myself with the heretofore Unknown God.  The one I had worshipped for many years was limited and conditional in his ability and capacity to love; and one who existed only within the construct of the religion to which I belonged.

The God I have come to know is the one IP spoke of on Sunday; the One who inspired him with Mars-Hill spontaneity to deviate a little (as described here) from the original flow of his carefully prepared text in order to better relate; the One who knew a young man, bearing social and spiritual wounds in his heart would be at the meeting in need of the healing salve of hope, love, and faith.

During years of personal crisis and questioning, I was the recipient of those divinely within my reach to teach and support me on the painful path to self acceptance and self realization.  The love and concern of these Paul-like friends, who had themselves gone through the same or similar process, brought healing and hope to my critically-withered spiritual and emotional well-being.

Like the young man at the meeting Sunday, there are a great many perishing for want of understanding, love, and hope, and in need of nourishment and truth.  I thank God for those like IP who are given the talent and means to reach out as husbandmen of truth.  This too is God’s work of love among his sons and daughters.

Withered leaves and barren boughs,
Love cut away the failing part,
Clave living grafts of faith and hope,
Brought healing to a blighted heart.

Winter chill and Spring rebirth –
Love’s husbandry: atoning pain;
Buds opening on fruitful boughs
Have blossomed into hope again.

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