Look. I had 3 different drafts of this post, since our Cal-Pac Annual Conference.
After I finished each one, I read it then reread it. Then deleted it. I didn’t even save it as a draft, which I normally do.
I just didn’t want to weigh in with my two cents because, well, I just didn’t have anything nice to say, truthfully. Or productive. Or even worthwhile.
Just a complaint, that will make me sound like a brat.
Here’s what’s going on right now. Click here.
Bishop Talbert was the preacher for our ordination worship celebration for Annual Conference.
Now, let me get this out of the way. I agree with what Bishop Talbert preached on. I had no problem with the content of the sermon.
But, I did have a problem with the time and place he chose to preach it.
I rarely want to make things about me, at least in a celebratory way. But you know, honestly, that night was about us, as the ordination class, and what God has done and continue to do through us.
It was about the years we poured our tears, sweat, some of us blood (in forms of paper cuts, perhaps) and lives in the long and often redundant and ridiculous and utterly arduous process of ordination.
It was about how we endured, only by the grace of God.
It was, at least for me and a couple of friends, about failing but refusing to stay down. Because God refused to let us go, even though many times, I (for one) wanted wash my hands free of the process, and ultimately the United Methodist Church.
It was to be a night of celebration and achievements. A small part of it being about us, but the bigger part about what God had done, despite and in spite of the ordinands.
The second to the last thing I wanted to hear that night was a 40 (plus) minute long sermon.
Especially since I know that my parents and my mother in-law wouldn’t understand most of the sermon.
The last thing I wanted to hear that night was a intentionally and thoroughly politically charged sermon.
Bishop Talbert entitled his sermon, “Do The Right Thing.”
And had he touched on any of the many many many subjects we, as newly ordained full members of the Cal-Pac Conference, could engage in doing the right thing, I honestly would’ve been okay.
There are so many issues where clergy and the church has dropped the ball by not doing the right thing. He could’ve touched on any one of those issues: poverty, homelessness, immigration, abuse, racism… I don’t know. But I do know that, as a clergy, my doing the right thing goes beyond just the issue he spent all night talking about.
This was a graduation ceremony, in many aspects.
Tell me, who would use the forum of the commencement speech to advance his/her own political beliefs?
Would it be any different, if I were to give the commencement speech at a graduation filled with Korean and Japanese students, and spend 40 minutes about how Dokdo rightfully belongs to Korea?
Would it be wise for someone to use the platform of the commencement speech to talk about same-sex marriage?
Would it be wise for me to tell recent graduates to undermine the authority that is already established?
I did not invite my brother to fly from Hawaii to join in this celebration only to force him to sit and listen to a topic that he does not agree with; a subject that we don’t see eye to eye. Which is completely okay.
I didn’t enjoy having awkward conversations at Coco’s Restaurant with folks (even folks I never met) about my feelings and thoughts on the sermon.
I wanted to just enjoy the night and bask in what God accomplished in me–in all of us. And I strongly feel that was taken from us.
Bishop Talbert, in my humble opinion, did a fantastic job of making that night about himself, more than anything else.
Call me a brat. Call me selfish. Call me naive. Call this a self-absorbed temper tantrum. Because you’d be absolutely right.
But dammit, in the eternal words of Lesley Gore: “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.”
… or something along that line.