November 16, 2016

I Want to be Like Bean Blossom

Like most of the country, I had never heard of Bean Blossom (also spelled Beanblossom) Indiana, before this weekend. It’s honestly the kind of name someone on the blue parts of the coasts might make up to mock the perceived backwardness or hokey-ness of the center of the country. Bean Blossom.

Last Sunday, the members of St. David’s Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom arrived at their church to find it painted with a swastika, the phrase “Heil Trump” and the phrase “Fag Church.”

I want to be like Bean Blossom.

I don’t know much about St. David’s, but I know they were doing something right. They were doing something faithful enough and visible enough that someone who wanted to destroy people’s sense of safety thought they were worth defacing. Someone who wanted to make clear that neither the American dream nor the reach of the gospel are for all God’s people picked St. David’s. St. David’s offended.

I want to be like Bean Blossom.

I want to be part of an Episcopal Church that doubles down on its commitment to being a church for all, right when that commitment is starting to look a lot riskier. Now is not the time to get complacent about how inclusive we are already. Now is not the time to get tired of the challenges of funding and sustaining churches in economically struggling communities. Now is not the time to get bored with sincere but imperfect attempts at liturgy and process that include multiple languages. Now is not the time to throw up our hands and turn away from the hard questions about who gets to stand at the front of the church or make decisions about resources, whose aesthetic gets labeled classy and whose gets labeled tacky.

Now is the time to swim against a current that just got a lot rougher and developed a treacherous undertow. We cannot pretend that, if we just kind of stay the course, our church will move in the direction of taking risks or making room for the voices of those who are most threatened by the wave of hate that is rolling across our country.

I’m sure there are plenty of folks in Bean Blossom who would have preferred a quiet Sunday. I’m sure there are internal issues at St. David’s that seemed like pressing points of conflict before all this happened. I’m sure there are people who are overly controlling about coffee hour and people who are self-righteous about their points of view. I’m sure the petty takes over quite a bit of the time. I’m sure there were limits on who felt included in the inclusive vision. It’s a church, after all.

But in the midst of all that, the Episcopalians of Bean Blossom were doing something right.

I want to be like Bean Blossom.