Love is a Verb
A reflection shared by Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli at Foundry United Methodist Church September 20, 2020, Foundry’s 25th Anniversary as a Reconciling Congregation.
Text: 1 Corinthians 13
How do you “Foundry?” Those of us active online in social media have been using a hashtag since the beginning of the COVID-19 quarantine that proclaims #ThisIsHowIFoundry. I was pondering this a few weeks ago for my midweek message on Facebook—particularly thinking about how much I love that this funny phrase makes Foundry into a verb. How do you Foundry? It’s a regular reminder—for me at least—of what we proclaim and seek to practice as a congregation: that the life of faith is not about a place, but a way of life, not contained in a book, but actively practiced by a people every day of our lives.
On this day we celebrate one of the ways we “Foundry.” Again—just as we’ve done for 25 years of Sundays—we proclaim and affirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and siblings of any other identity are beautiful and beloved children of God whose being and unique gifts strengthen the Body of Christ. And this part of how we Foundry has included not just words, but concrete actions, consequential choices, acts of solidarity, risk, and sacrifice. On this Sunday following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, every cell in my body is alert to just how much our choices and our willingness to stay in the struggle and work for freedom, justice, and equity for all people makes a difference. She is a model and champion for us in this regard—and God only knows the countless lives she has empowered, liberated, and saved through her work. What we do matters.
Foundry has been willing to do the hard work of leadership for LGBTQ inclusion in the larger church and society when we didn’t really have to. It would be so much easier for us to just enjoy the space we create together and let the other stuff go. But our commitment has been and will continue to be true solidarity and support for those who do not enjoy the relative safety and radical hospitality that is part of our shared life. In this time of digital worship, even more folk have found their way to us. And we will continue to extend a way for folks “stranded” in places that reject and harm LGBTQ people to participate in a congregation—and even join as professing members—where there they will not be just “tolerated,” but embraced and affirmed.
As you will hear from our amazing servant leaders who will share words with us in just a moment, Foundry continues to grow and expand both our understanding and practice of inclusion, equity, and justice. But the thing I want to emphasize today is that Foundry is a verb. It is a way of life together that is not without challenges and the messiness and imperfections of human relationship and community, but that is intentional, active, and determined to change the world for the better. To “Foundry” is to keep faith, hope, and—most of all!—love at the center of all we do.
As I imagine you’ve heard at one wedding or another when 1 Corinthians 13 is read, love is not just a warm feeling, it is a verb, something you DO—it is the concrete action we take for the life and flourishing of others. Love is taking risks for someone else, being willing to create some conflict in order to move closer toward right relationship, sacrificing your own comfort, resources, or safety for someone else’s welfare. Love is actively acknowledging the beauty, humanity, and dignity of those whom others might want to destroy or discard. Love is doing justice, discerning and seeking to do what is right whether it is popular or not. The love we’re called to is mature love, divine love as revealed to us in Jesus. And I give thanks that, while God knows we are an extraordinarily talented and driven bunch—we excel in speaking, prophetic witness, acts of faith, and generosity—I have seen (even in moments of deep pain and injustice) these gifts fueled by love and not hatred, by grace and not rejection, by hope not by despair. I am humbled and honored each and every day to be on the journey with all of you as, together, we seek to “Foundry” with ever deeper faith, hope, and—most of all—with love.