Dear Friends of Room for All:

One of my favorite contemporary Advent hymns is “No Wind at the Window” by John Bell of the Iona Community.  After the season’s first dark weeks of lament over the world as it is, I’m grateful to encounter the angelic “voice in her ear” in Bell’s lyrics:  “The time for redeeming the world has begun, and you are requested to mother God’s son.”   Hope seems to float in mid-air in the hymn’s ethereal melody until Mary replies with conviction:  ‘Tell God I say yes.’”

This year in particular, Bell’s hymn puts me in mind of Room for All and you, our supporters.  After the General Synod vote last June which “reaffirms our official position that homosexual behavior is a sin according to Holy Scriptures,” you lamented the world as it is in the Reformed Church in America.  But you also acted.  The time has begun, you said, for the RCA to fully welcome and affirm its LGBTQ community.  With your prayers, letters, phone calls, and a generous outpouring of financial contributions, “compelled by the inclusive love of God shown to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” you replied, Tell God I say yes.

In 2012, your yes resulted in five Building an Inclusive Church training workshops throughout our denomination.   New or revitalized RfA regional groups met to pray, plan, and offer support to those whose ministries or families are most vulnerable.  The Room for All Board began ambitious plans for our third national conference, and this Advent, the 22nd congregation joined the Room for All roster of publicly welcoming and affirming churches in the RCA.  While exclusion based on sexual orientation or gender identity still exists in the RCA, hundreds of you are actively working and serving to redeem its painful effects.

In his hymn, John Bell writes that Mary consented “to what none could guess.”  Isn’t that true for each of us when we decide to respond to the Spirit’s voice in our ear?  We’re not being asked to mother God’s son, but like Mary, we are players in God’s story, sometimes a bit bewildered by where the Spirit seems to be leading us, with little to go on except a feeling that God’s time has come for us to say yes.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you.  May each one of us be given the grace to wait and watch for the Spirit’s leading in the year to come, and to reply with conviction and assent.

Grace and Peace,
Marilyn Paarlberg