This blog was originally posted at Dave Barnhart’s Blog

According to The United Methodist Book of Discipline, clergy are not allowed to conduct same sex weddings or bless same sex unions. Since I am not allowed to publicly pray for blessing, I wrote this lament many months ago.

I offer it here, because I know some of my UMC clergy colleagues are going to be asked to officiate.

Perhaps they will choose to officiate and risk retribution, or perhaps they will make referrals.

Or perhaps they will find other creative ways to resist injustice.

A Lament for a Marriage

God of covenant love, host of the wedding banquet, I bring you my lament that I am forbidden to bless this union. I lament that church rules dictate that I must be like one without a wedding garment. I lament that, as in Jesus’ story about the guests who refused to attend the wedding banquet, many have cut themselves off from witnessing the joy of this moment. We pray for all those whose disapproval hurts only themselves.

Yet, Lord, I also rejoice.

When Balaam was hired to curse the Hebrew people, he could not; for how can one curse those whom God has blessed?

It is not we clergy who bless, but you! And I’m grateful that our Methodist movement has been a movement of laypeople from the beginning, and when the church doors were closed to John Wesley, he preached from his father’s grave. Your blessings cannot be contained by legislation, or buildings, or authority figures, and we praise you because in the relationship of NAME and NAME, we see the fruits of your Spirit already growing: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

We see your Spirit at work, and like Peter when he met Cornelius, we understand that we should call no one profane or unclean, but that everyone who does what is right is acceptable to you.

I am grateful, O God, for your grace that cannot be contained, that precedes our asking for it, frees us from sin and death, and continues to grow and perfect us in love. This couple, joined in covenant love, united in mission of love and service, is a testimony to your ongoing activity to work through your church, and when necessary, around it, to bring blessing and salvation to a world that desperately needs it.

Thank you, Almighty God, that though I cannot pray a blessing for them, you have seen fit to bless us with them.

Your generosity astounds us. Amen.

Rev. Dave Barnhart

I’m a United Methodist pastor planting a new church (Saint Junia United Methodist Church) in Birmingham, Alabama. My mission in life is to teach and live resurrected life in Jesus among passionate people. I’m married and have a son. I’ve written a couple of books: What’s in the Bible About Church? and God Shows No Partiality.

If you’d like to get in touch with me, you can email me at dave (at) saintjunia (dot) org, or send me a message on Twitter.

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