The Pastor's Page

As we have been thinking on Sundays together about what it means to be the laity of the church and people of faith in our daily lives, we thought it might be a good opportunity to use our weekly email blast to give folks in our church a chance to reflect on some of the questions being presented in our series: Choosing to Be the Church. 
 
This coming Sunday, we will be speaking about
What does it mean to you to tell the "hard truth?" How might the task of telling the "hard truth" be connected to your life of faith?
This week, Alyssa Sileo shares a little with us about her journey:

On June 6, 2014, I graduated from St. Mary Catholic School, standing in the church that I had been attending my whole life, the church that represented so much of my identity. On November 6, 2014, I came out as gay, standing in a theatre, wondering what this newly discovered truth meant for what I had considered myself for so lon
g: a Christian. 
 
The societal forces that were imposed on me made this personal truth to be a hard truth. But to my own self, being me was the most "me" thing to do. 

Something that this years-long process of claiming my identity and my faith has taught me is that the truth shines through even when it is not acknowledged or honored. But even when the gates of the hard truth are opened, there is confusion and doubt. I think this is because the truth has to do with what is found in facts, but also in what is found in feelings. The truth can be discovered universally, and it can also be discovered personal. Each truth we uncover and engage with re-maps the way we see the world. In each of our own personal experiences, some truths are more enduring than others. For many reasons, some are tougher to engage with, challenge, or accept than other truths.
 
For all of my high school experience, I had a difficult time engaging with both my faith and queer identities. But, as it oftentimes does for many people, college changed everything for me. The summer before my freshman year, I participated in a musical that helped me understand that I wished to engage with a new, better faith community again. On a more personal level, I wanted to engage with a belief system full of the truths that felt safe, healthy, and kind for me to hold onto. Because I will not particularly say that the truth always feels "good." But the way I've experienced truth is that it feels right. It feels like it does not harm myself, others, or this planet we live on. It exists to open gates of understanding.
 
I came to this conclusion about my values and goals thanks to this musical calling me to tell the story of a queer girl coming out in impossible circumstances. With the embracing of who she is, she does right by everything. I look to my personal history to find the truth, and I look to my feelings, because there is a connection between trust and truth. 
 
We must remember that the truth opens gates. Possibility increases with the embracing of the hard truth. This is how I tell the hard truths of myself and my experiences to the world--that confusion and doubt has so much to do with my identities but also there is so much adventure and exhibition of radical love. My hard truth exists to heal and welcome. 
 
I will be honest that my anxiety grows as the General Conference's vote on queer inclusion in the church approaches. I stand in a new faith community, and I trust that my congregation will continue to acknowledge and honor my  identities no matter what. This is what I know to be true right now. So no matter what the Greater Church votes on, I will still be able to say I have a pretty solid grip on my mental map of my world, rooted in what feels right and loving to all. I will keep opening the gates to help this map grow
....
Thanks to Alyssa for sharing these thoughtful reflections this week! 
Email Pastor Kate at leadpastor@umcmadison.org if you would like to share some thoughts on next week's
question: 
What do you think makes for a
good leader?