‘O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires…All your sons and daughters will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace’ (IS 54: 11, 13).
Our churches, lashed by identity politics and afflicted by abuse, need the Bridegroom to make us a ‘safe house.’ This is our last week of ‘Becoming Good News’; in truth, it is only the beginning of our becoming the Church ‘whose conventional appearance makes it a safe place into which one might take refuge,’ aka a ‘safe house.’
But how can a Church riddled with immorality become a sanctuary for the abused and identity confused? Responding to a rebuttal of his claim that the Pope and many Vatican officials covered for high-ranking homosexual abusers, Archbishop Vigano writes: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy…It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn sexual abuse, claim to weep for its victims, and yet refuse to denounce the source of so much abuse: homosexuality.’
Why pray for prodigals to come home to a sleazy celebration? Because God is raising an army of wounded healers who are intent on making that Church safe. Cowardly men in power cannot stop the Lord of hosts. He accomplishes what He wills. He wills to set captives free through His house, not in spite of it.
I write this at the end of a rocky finger pointing east off the Connecticut coast. We are lashed here by winds and rain as seasoned Living Waters leaders and new leaders-to-be gather. The range of churches–from contemplative Catholics to shaking Pentecostals—is awesome. We need each other’s gifts to become safe houses in our communities for every estranged son and daughter that Jesus is calling home. In response to our prayers!
We tell the truth about our lives—the disordered desires, abuse that divided us, shame that derided us—and the family of God whose pure hearts and clean hands helped reconcile us to the gendered gifts we are. No human powers can block what God is building. We are following His plan: humble disclosure met by Almighty mercy flowing through Christ’s members. Unstoppable. God does not need more clever administrators, more artful dodgers; He just needs willing hearts made tender and trustworthy by mercy.
We take our places–mutually submitting to bishops and pastors as we become ‘like living stones, built together into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 P 2:5) Our sacrifice? The re-offering of our wounds, now visible to all–washed, set, becoming integrated into our good full lives. I submit to you this short film—Chaste Together (click here to watch)—that describes how Living Waters helps create a ‘safe house’ in local churches for the abuse and afflicted.
My hope is in Jesus. I am not discouraged by sleazy strains in the Church. I cannot answer for the accused. All I know is that God is mobilizing a healing army that will accomplish His purposes—‘to present to Himself a radiant bride’ (Eph. 5: 27), a bride who welcomes the wounded in mercy and truth.
‘See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s Father, Ephraim, my firstborn son’ (Jer. 31: 8-10).