Rev. Arthur Nelson: Prayer

Rev. Arthur A. R. Nelson

Over many years my heart and soul have been churning with the desire to enable release and freedom for those in our Covenant family who have carried the pain and sorrow of the misunderstanding of their sexual identity and orientation, and in particular their disappointment with their church continuing to send clear signals of judgement and separation. I am deeply grateful that the current dialogue is finally become broadly public, which can only lead to a healthier and more loving Covenant family.

Here is a prayer that I wrote for my recent publication – Prayers Public and Personal – in its original form.

Holy and Compassionate God,
bless with your abiding presence and sensitive, loving, and faithful friends
those whose loneliness is deep and dark by virtue of their being
misunderstood and rejected.

Knowing that the issue of sexual identity too easily leads to the hasty
prejudice of others and sorrowful self-judgement, in the name and power
of  your son Jesus, who had unusual and unconditional love for those
often ostracized and moved to the margins of the culture of his time,
bring your refreshing and healing Spirit to those persons whose soul and heart
have embraced your saving grace but find your church and society
unkind and demeaning. And help us to keep reminding them that they are
dearly loved by us and by you.

Amen.

  • Eva

    Art, my heart cries out yes and amen. May this prayer cover our family members and friends who walk this journey. May it cover those in our churches who know the trauma and inner turmoil of walking alone. May it cover also those we don’t know who are desperate for someone to come alongside and say yes to them, especially those who wonder if life is worth living anymore. And I humbly lift my heart in thanks, for those who have done so, praying for, walking alongside, and celebrating my son.
    Thank you.

  • Rev. Nelson, I remember you from my time at North Park in the early 80’s. Thank you for this kind and compassionate contribution to the dialog. I remember the pain and desperation I felt as I began to understand and become fully aware of my sexual orientation as a North Park student, and wish that those around me at that time had the love and understanding regarding this issue that is starting to come to the forefront now. Perhaps I would have come through with fewer scars. Bless you for reaching out in love to those who have been ostracized and alienated.

  • Dean Nelson (I still choose to call you that since you were my Dean of Student Development),

    When I was up to no good at North Park and ended up in your office, I could see how much you truly cared about me as a person. This was very disarming. You were less concerned with what I was doing than why I was doing it. I experienced the love of Christ through you and I’m glad you are writing and sharing your wisdom and your heart. You always ended your letters with “Grace, Love & Peace,” which I did not understand at the time, but do now.

    If the Covenant was being true to our roots, there would not be resolutions on this issue. I was taught that we have two central tenets in Covenant belief, 1. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. If it is in the Bible it’s true. This is why we ask “Where is it written?” 2. It is essential to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This is why we ask, “How is your walk?”

    The issue is not whether homosexuality is sin, or whether the church should celebrate gay marriage. The issue is that as a church we have failed to show the love of Jesus to our people. We need to change the model where people put on their best clothes on Sunday morning and pretend they have everything together. “Just as I am” is how I meet my Lord.

    I always think of Jesus in the temple court with the adulterous woman. He was the only one without sin, and chose not to condemn her. All the rest of us have “sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

    How am I doing? Better than I deserve. We don’t talk about grace enough. None of us are good enough. No matter how pious, no matter how well dressed, we cannot earn our salvation.

    I’ve had friends and family leave the Covenant over this issue, lost to the Episcopalian and other denominations.

    I know Swedes don’t like conflict, but this schism never should have happened. The beauty of the Covenant has been that everyone is represented – Conservative and Liberal, Traditional and Modern, Infant and Adult Baptism, all manners of tribulation theories, hetero and LGBT, Swede and even non-Swede :).

    Let’s keep it simple and live out our commands. Love God. Love our neighbors, all of them. Let’s meet people where they are at and let the Holy Spirit do the convicting and God do the judging as we truly share the love of Jesus.