the tentmaker

daily thoughts on the common lectionary

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Location: Sharpsburg, Georgia, United States

"...because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together — by trade they were tentmakers." Acts 18:3. Tentmaker is a title taken by bi-vocational pastors. As such, I am both a pastor and a project manager. I am a pastor of a local congregation of moderate, accepting and affirming people who worship in the Baptist tradition. We call our church "Hope Memorial Baptist" and we are about 40 in number. I am also a project manager of major construction projects for the State of Georgia. My home and church is in rural Coweta County, between Peachtree City and Newnan, with a mailing address of Sharpsburg, Georgia.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sermon Feedback

Last Sunday was the day before Labor Day. On long weekends we usually have a sparse crowd at the worship service. The service I planned was filled with prayers and responsive reading as well as the usual reading from the lectionary texts. My sermon was actually no sermon at all but a brief homily. I published it in its entirety here

The crowd was a bit sparse, we had four in attendance. The pianist had taken the day off and we sang our hymns without musical background. It was a very inspiring service for me.

This week I received a letter from one of the four in attendance. Here is what it said:
Dear Pastor Joel Heaton,
I found your sermon to contradict the very Word you gave for resonsive reading. When you teach to accept homosexuals, you are condemning your congregation to the same death penalty as Sodom and Gomorrah. I will not preach to the preacher, you know what I am saying. I am only writing this letter so your blood is not on my hands. I hope you will repent, if not your blood is on your hands. (Ezekiel 3:18-21)

I am praying for you. I write this letter in the true spirit of love (obedience) of Jesus Christ. (2 Chronicles 19:2, Romans 3:4)

B. L.
note: The responsive reading referred to in the letter is the Psalm lesson from the lectionary. She is referring to verse 4.

Here is where I should ask you all to pray for my soul.

Sharpsburg is in the heart of fundamentalist country. I know of only two other Baptist churches in this area that are not fundamentalist. So, it isn't surprising that this kind of sentiment is out there. But I have been preaching a message of acceptance and mercy and love for the eight years that I have been here. This is the first time anyone has taken exception to anything I have said. And the source is a long-time church member.

I'm not sure what to do with this letter. If you have any advice please leave a comment.


Blogger HeyJules said...

Oh's that subject I just LOVE to discuss again! (NOT!)

Here's the deal as I now understand it. Should we be accepting of homosexuals just as Jesus was accepting of ALL of us? Yes, of course. Are we all, in reality, guilty of sinning? Yes, of course. Is the "sin" of a homosexual worse than any of my/our sins? No they aren't. So should a homosexual person be allowed to sit next to me in church and work to become like Christ as I am working to become like Christ? Yes, of course.

What should you do with that letter? I'd write the person back and tell them they might want to look around for a new church where everyone is already perfect.

I'm just sayin'...

9/09/2006 2:38 PM  
Blogger the tentmaker said...

My church members, my flock if you will, are like my children. I love them very much. I cannot tell this lady to leave any more than I could tell a gay or lesbian person to leave.

But there is the potential here for discord in the church. I have drafted a letter back to her which I have not sent. I may publish it here a little later.

Thanks Julie for your words of solidarity.


9/10/2006 9:55 AM  

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