Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Hate Will Not Have The Final Word

photo from Holden Village, 2006

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina on Wednesday pushed through a broad sweeping anti-LGBT bill, removing local ordinances for equal rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and mandating that government controlled multi-user bathrooms be restricted to a single sex based on the gender assigned at birth.

It is distressing to have people debate my genitalia and my worth, when all I have to do is pee. More importantly, this law makes the trans community, trans women in particular, even more vulnerable to violence and harassment.

Lawmakers rushed the bill through during Holy Week, when we prepare for Easter Sunday. In multiple states and cities around the country, people are rushing to deny rights to the LGBTQ community, while waving the flag of Christianity.

It makes me sick, and it is not my religion.

On Good Friday, I remembered Jesus, the Son of God, who came to share a message of good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, freedom for those oppressed, and the year of the Lord’s favor. This is how he kicked off his ministry in the gospel of Luke (4:14-21). He spoke against those in power who had set up laws based on ritual purity. Those laws drove people into isolation and onto the margins. Jesus spoke against those laws, and brought people back in who had been made outsiders. He restored relationships by healing individuals and communities.

On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified by those in power because of the threat he presented with his ministry.

On Easter Sunday, we celebrated that death and hate did not have the final word.

On Easter Sunday, we remembered that Jesus preached a message of love, and care for one another, especially for those who are most vulnerable.

Many of us in the LGBTQ community have personally experienced abuse and cruelty at the hands of the church, or Christian family members and friends. Many of us have seen the hate and vitriol come out of our political system in the name of Christian values. Countless members of the LGBT community and our allies have left the church, because it was healthier and safer to leave.

Why would I expect anyone to be a Christian? Why would I even want to admit I am a Christian?

On Easter Sunday, we celebrate that death and hate will not have the final word.

The opponents of Jesus’ message of love, inclusion, and freedom for the oppressed, thought they had won when they nailed him to the cross.

They did not count on the expansiveness of God’s love.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

The resurrection of Jesus is a way for us to celebrate this truth. Not even death can separate us from the love of God. Not even a rash of discriminatory legislation. Not even an abusive church, or having left church altogether, will make God stop loving us.

So what does this have to do with North Carolina?

The lawmakers who are governing out of fear and ignorance will not have the last word. Jesus stands in solidarity with the oppressed. Jesus would stand with a sign at the governor’s residence proclaiming, “God loves all LGBTQ peeps.” Jesus would wear a button that says, #Illgowithyou and make sure that trans people have an ally to go to the bathroom in safety. God’s Spirit is active in igniting our hearts to stand with those who face violence, discrimination, and rejection.

We will not let hate win, because God has said “No!” to hate.

This is what I celebrate on Easter Sunday.

Wishing you all a Blessed spring, with a resounding Alleluia that God says “Yes!” to love.

I’m praying you may know love, safety, and the confidence that you are a wonderful child of God.
I’m praying for the freedom to pee, and an end to anti-LGBTQ legislation.
I’m praying for an end to violence against our LGBTQ community, particularly against trans women and people of color.
I’m praying for all who have been kicked out of church, and out of their homes.
I’m praying for all who are oppressed in any way.

With love for you this Easter season,


Saturday, March 26, 2016

I Was There

A view from Holden Village, 2006
[This is my meditation from last night's Good Friday service at St. Andrew Lutheran.  There were seven readers, each with a part of the passion narrative from the Gospel of Luke, sharing from the perspective of one of the witnesses. We began with "I was there"...]

Luke 23:32–43: Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots to divide his clothing. And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!”The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 
I was there, on the cross next to Jesus. The mood was violent, and the frothing crowd that had yelled, “Give us Barrabas”, and “Crucify him!” craved more. They tried to humiliate Jesus, even as he was dying. I don’t know why they were so angry. Maybe some felt persecuted by the Romans, and some were just caught up in the frenzied rally. They wanted Jesus to feel their shame and impotence, and mocked him with “Save Yourself! Come down from the cross now!”

Jesus didn’t save himself from the cross, but he forgave them. I was so angry at them all. They were so cruel! And he forgave them. What did this Messiah hold within his heart that he could forgive such hatred and violence? I chastised the other criminal for heaping insults along with the rest. Isn’t it enough that he was dying?

I mustered up all of my courage to speak to him. “Jesus,” I said, and was shocked at how intimately I was speaking to this stranger. What should I ask for? He hadn’t saved himself from the cross, so saving my life seemed out of the question. He was as powerless as I was. He was in the same bad state, maybe even worse after all of the beatings. Then, I said, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” I don’t know what I expected. I didn’t deserve a place with the Son of God. But I wept with relief at his answer. “Truly, I tell you, today, you will be with me in paradise.” Truly this man was the Son of God. I would not only be remembered, I would be restored. I would be with God. I had never been good enough or at all righteous. I felt shame and embarrassment about all I had done, but he invited me to be a part of his kingdom.

Even in dying, I felt great joy. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the sneer on the face of the other criminal. And I had compassion on him and forgave him. He was just as I am, and worthy of a place in the kingdom too. That day, I forgave myself, because Jesus forgave me. And I forgave the angry crowds and the brutal soldiers, because Jesus loved even them. And I entered into God’s glorious kingdom, of forgiveness, restoration, welcome, and peace.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

My latest list of columns

Hi y'all!  I updated the list of the articles I have written for PQ Monthly!

My column is Finding Leo, and I write about my life as a trans man, and a person of faith.

You can find my articles here with the most recent listed first:

Finding Leo: One Chest Hair is Enough (March/April 2016)

Finding Leo: My Best Valentine  (February/March 2016)

Finding Leo: Back to the Beginning (January/February 2016)

Protest and Renewal: Working for Welcome (January 22, 2016)

Finding Leo: Light A Candle (December/January 2015/16)

Finding Leo: A Place at the Table (November/December 2015)

Finding Leo: My Crotch and My Faith  (October/November 2015)

Finding Leo: Transitioning in Church, A Spiritual Perspective (January/February 2015)