Friday, December 30, 2005

93 Safe Days

One of the elements of my weekly commute to the church is passing by the grain processing plant. It is its own little city of grain elevators and industrial buildings with steam pouring out. (I can't imagine what's in there, but one day, I'll find out). I rarely see workers going in and out, but occasionally two or three hardhatted men are huddling by a door smoking cigarrettes.

One of my rituals as I drive by is to check the sign that lists "safe days." Right now we are up to 93 safe days. I remember when I drove by one day and there were only two safe days. That was disappointing to me. I wondered about who had been hurt and how. I prayed they were o.k.

I started my work at this church in mid-June. It was only going to be temporary --three months, or 75 safe days. Then the former pastor's sabbatical went south, and I was offered an extended opportunity for ministry. At current estimate, I have had around200 safe days.

It probably seems strange to count safe days. But I have come to see it as a symbol. For lesbian and gay clergy, our careers can sometimes be counted in "safe days."

At the same time, the concept of "safe days" is misleading, for ministry is not about safety. It is about the exact opposite: vulnerability and risk. The good news that God loves each of us just as we are is risky. The good news that God has called us to accept all people who seek God into the church is risky. Prophetic witness is risky.

And, surprisingly, within the lesbian community being an "out" Christian minister is risky. Particularly if one has a strong doctrine of sin, as I do (Yes, I am, I admit, a lesbian Puritan --but more on that in a future blog) some facets of the lesbian community of which I am a part, see me as the enemy. An oppressor.

So, 93 safe days it is. . . and counting. God is the God who takes risks; the God who calls us to take risks, and in the midst of it, gives us safe days, and the grace to keep counting even when we have to start over.

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