|glitter-izing my bra for AIDS Walk 2012 to cover my top lady-bits|
1 Corinthians 12:12, 26 "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. ... If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it."
The title of my blog is "One of the boys... kinda". But tonight's post is called "Only kinda" because it is inauthentic of me to claim to be fully "one of the boys". This goes beyond pointing out that I have lady bits and I'm straight. One difference is that I live as a person of privilege in the church. My journey has been rocky at times, I walked away from becoming a pastor and I almost quit going to church at all, but it is still a safe place for me. Not only is it a safe place, it is a place where I have been recognized as a leader and given positions with titles like President (though I still think that should come with a tiara). Unfortunately, my LGBT friends do not always have the same experience of safety, respect, and recognized leadership.
Why do I mention this? Because today, January 27th, is both a celebration and solemn remembrance.
It is a joyful day because it is Reconciling in Christ (RIC) Sunday in the ELCA (Lutheran church). Today we celebrate that God's love is bigger than our desire to build up walls. We rejoice that God loves, welcomes, and affirms everyone, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is exciting because my church is now on the roster of these welcoming churches.
Today is also a sorrowful day because it is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The Holocaust was a period during which humanity's desire to have insiders and outsiders caused unfathomable cruelty and suffering. Gay men and lesbians were among those targeted, tortured and murdered, alongside Jews, political dissidents and others.
Why do I mention all of this here? For a few reasons.
First an apology. I am truly sorry that the church has excluded and vilified the LGBT community, at times even to the point of death. I know I am not personally responsible for all of the oppression that has occurred, but I am saddened, angered, and frankly, pissed off that any of my beloved friends have been made to feel less than worthy and less than whole. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the verses above, "If one member suffers, all suffer together with it." I believe this to be true.
I also write this post today because as much as I fiercely love my gay and lesbian friends, I don't want to pretend that I understand all of your experiences. I have been humbled and blessed by the stories of your own faith journeys you have shared with me and I pledge to fight as long as I live for LGBT equality, inclusion and welcome. I am grateful for you and ask that you continue to be my teachers in my advocacy and activism. To quote Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke who preached at our RIC service this afternoon, "the church needs you, and so do I."
We are all a part of the body of Christ. We are all beloved by God. No matter what anyone says. Period. The days on which we live out that exuberant welcome are truly a time to rejoice.
God of healing, Forgive us for all of the times we have built up walls against "outsiders", whoever they may be. Heal the wounds, physical, spiritual, and emotional, of those who have been damaged by the church. Help us all to remember that we are in this life together, and your love extends to us all. Thanks, and Amen.