Even on Holy Thursday, a night when he faced betrayal and arrest, Jesus embodied hospitality—washing his disciples’ feet, and sharing bread and wine with his betrayer. On this Maundy Thursday, and as we approach Good Friday and Easter, we remember the indiscriminate servant love of Jesus Christ, who served all as a call and example for people to follow.
Last week the state of Indiana passed a law that went further than any other state or federal version of a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” (RFRA). Indiana’s law, and other laws being considered in Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and other states are different from previous state and federal versions because they allow individuals and for-profit businesses to deny services to individuals citing religious beliefs. Indiana’s RFRA law was written and supported in part by anti-gay activists on the heels of marriage equality being passed in the state. The law passed was so broad that it left many marginalized people unprotected from potential discrimination based on their sexual orientation, race, gender identity, age, ethnicity, ability, and religion.
Even as a possible fix is under way, it remains up to the Indiana legislature who thought to pass this law in the first place, and indeed to every follower of Christ to sincerely work to protect people on the margins of society.
Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) and the National Council of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts (FUMMWA) are joining together in this pastoral letter because we believe discrimination has no place in our nation or church. We call on all people of faith to boldly join us in pointing to Holy Week, which culminates in resurrection, not death—and celebrates hospitality, not discrimination.
We are called to indiscriminate love by Jesus Christ:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13:34).
We are called to indiscriminate love by our worship:
I will hold the Christ-light for you in the night-time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you, speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping; when you laugh, I’ll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow till we’ve seen this journey through.
(Richard Gillard; The Faith We Sing, 2222)
We are called to indiscriminate love by the Book of Discipline:
We recognize that God made all creation and saw that it was good. As a diverse people of God who bring special gifts and evidences of God’s grace to the unity of the Church and to society, we are called to be faithful to the example of Jesus’ ministry to all persons. Inclusiveness means openness, acceptance, and support that enables all persons to participate in the life of the Church, the community, and the world; therefore, inclusiveness denies every semblance of discrimination. The services of worship of every local church of The United Methodist Church shall be open to all persons. The mark of an inclusive society is one in which all persons are open, welcoming, fully accepting, and supporting of all other persons, enabling them to participate fully in the life of the church, the community, and the world (¶140: Called to Inclusiveness, United Methodist Book Of Discipline, 2012).
As The Fellowship heads to Indianapolis and RMN to San Antonio in July and August for our upcoming national gatherings, we join the chorus of individuals, corporations, and religious groups calling on Indiana, Texas, and other states to repeal harmful RFRA laws which allow discrimination. Many of our lives have been impacted by discrimination, so we are called to make space for all persons at God’s table. By meeting in these locations, we can make a powerful witness to our commitment to creating space where all are welcome.
Like Jesus, let us find new ways to serve all people as a call and example for people to follow.
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The Fellowship is transforming the world through worship by supporting musicians, worship artists, clergy, and laity in The United Methodist Church and a variety of denominations and experiences. The Fellowship exists to assist worship leaders in creating meaningful worship experiences that bring people into deeper relationships with God and each other. Join The Fellowship for their biennial convocation July 2015 in Indianapolis.
Reconciling Ministries Network is mobilizing United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love. Join them in San Antonio for their biennial national gathering with other progressive partners in August 2015.
If you wish to add your voice against Indiana-like RFRA laws by writing an open letter or a blog article, please email your submission to email@example.com.