Reconciling Ministries Lenten Devotional 2011
by Rachel Harvey
March 18, 2011--I come from a large, highly connectional Pennsylvania Dutch family. I can't remember a vacation that didn't include five more people than the room could hold. My understanding of immediate family extended beyond my brother, mom, and dad to include aunts, cousins, great aunts, second and third cousins, and family friends.
Growing up, this was my community. Every summer, in addition to the weekly family dinners and camp meeting services, we also gathered for four family reunions. One of my favorite elements of each reunion was the cake walk. When the music started, all 60-80 of us in attendance would take a place outside the pavilion and walk in one direction while the previous year's cake walk winner walked in the opposite direction with a cake. The goal is to be lined up with the cake when the music stops. It's harder than it seems; I only won once in my 20+ years as a cake walker.
The joy of winning the cake walk is of course that you get to eat the cake…it is only when the sugar high wears off that you realize you've also been tasked with making a cake for the next family reunion. The year I won, my Nana helped me make an angel food cake for the cake walk. I loved to bake with her. Years later when my Nana died, my mom sent me her old angel food cake pan. I've lived in a couple of different states since then, and the pan has made each journey with me. It was only in February when I made an angel food cake using my Nana's pan that I realized the gift I'd received was broken.
I'd followed all the right steps in making the cake, but when I lifted the pan to place it in the oven, the batter started dripping out of the bottom. Frantic, I called my mom. "Why didn't you tell me the gift you gave me was broken?" I said. By this point I'd lost a quarter of the batter.
"Rachel," she said calmly, "don't you remember? It's warped on the bottom. Nana always baked it on a cookie sheet or used aluminum foil." I thanked my mom for the better-late-than-never reminder about the pan, and placed it in the oven. In the 45 minutes it took my cake to rise, I couldn't get the question I'd thrown at my mom out of my head: "Why didn't you tell me the gift you gave me was broke?" In my frustration I'd misspoken, it wasn't the gift (memories of time with my Nana) that was broken, but the container that represented the gift.
I work for the Reconciling Ministries Network, organizing for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) United Methodists. Every day, I hear stories of people who have been told by pastors or United Methodist Church policies that their gifts are broken. Every day I join my voice and feet with people who are singing new songs and dancing to new steps, knowing one day all of our gifts--all of our love and all of our families--will be included in the church we love.
I feel the chains of injustice loosened when my LGBT sisters and brothers and straight allies rise to tell their stories to pastors, bishops, and delegates who are tasked with the opportunity to untie the cords of the yoke by beginning a conversation about reconciling in their local church and voting for full inclusion at General Conference in 2012. Because of the work my community does, every day I am privileged to get a glimpse of the kin-dom of God at work, and it looks a lot like the community I grew up in, unconditionally loving, chaotic, and ever expanding to fix the broken containers that seek to stifle God's love.
Rachel is a United Methodist Deaconess appointed to serve as the Associate Executive Director of Reconciling Ministries Network. Prior to joining RMN in August 2009, Rachel worked for two years as a mission specialist with The Advance at the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Mar 18, 2011