Love is the whole thing. We are only pieces.
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.
1 John 4:8b
God is love.
Message – “One”
Is he family? It seemed like an easy enough question at the time. I think I replied something to the effect of… “No, no relation.” The response was something like, “No, is he gay?” I had never heard that expression before. My experience and understanding of LGBTQ persons has been stretched and expanded over the last many years. Family. What does it mean to you? Obviously, it can mean different things to different people. I have seen families that seemed perfect, and were filled with trauma and dysfunction and I have seen families that seemed highly dysfunctional yet produce love and grace…
When someone says, “We’re going to treat you like family.” does it make you feel warm and loved on the inside or does it make you want to run the other way? This is Pride Month. I have had friends and family speak out against Pride Month and Pride Parades…. And friends and family in speak and act in support. Which is easy to do when one has the privilege of being born heterosexual and not have to have a day that speaks to equal rights and non-discrimination.
As I understand it, from the Human Rights Campaign Website – New York was the birthplace of Pride in 1970, one year after the famous Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. The riots, which spanned over three days, were some of the most prominent instances in which LGBT people resisted against police discrimination. It was a watershed moment in LGBT history – it is often accredited as the start of the modern gay liberation movement, which later expanded into the larger LGBT rights movement. Since Stonewall, Pride has seen a great number of changes and transformations. Originally, Pride was solely a political demonstration to voice LGBT demands for equal rights and protections. More and more parades and demonstrations appeared in New York and across the U.S., including parades by PFLAG and ACT UP during the AIDS epidemic. It was not until 1991 that Pride began to resemble what it is today: a celebration of queer life and sexuality in addition to a political and social demonstration.
I bring this up today not because I don’t think our community of faith is unaware, not because I want to just preach to the choir, not because I want to brow beat us… In our culture and society, and I believe it has been exacerbated of late; groups, communities, families of persons who feel more and more pushed to the outside, isolated, ignored, targeted, and discriminated against. It is why I ask the question about family. What does it mean to be a part of a family? And for us as a community of faith to keep speaking to the injustices of treating others not like us, not like our family, to the edges and to the outside… will continue to draw criticism not only from those not of our family… but even from those within our family.
Headlines across our nation of threats to transgender persons in our military and civil service. A supreme court that ruled in favor of a bakery owner discriminating against a same gender couple over a wedding cake, and our own United Methodist Denomination poised once again to decide not only how but if LGBTQ persons can be included fully in the life of our family. Granted the Supreme Court just handed down a decision that protects LGBTQIA+ persons from being fired for their gender identity or sexual orientation which was huge! However, our country, our world, has a long history of targeting and excluding, discriminating against and brutalizing those we view as different, those we view as the lesser…outside our family.
There is a passage in the gospel of Mark that is curious and one of my favorites. One of my favorites because even Jesus family, who one would presume knows the story of Jesus best… thinks he is out of his mind. “…[his family] went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And you don’t have to go far today to find the same response from a world that would rather not bake a cake, would rather threaten, fire, and deny basic human rights… why, we are all out of our minds… for Jesus… it was so much it cost him his life.
His life was the life of a radical… calling into question the practices of the empire of his day… an empire that had colluded with religious power and created a toxic atmosphere of power, oppression, and violence. And if it doesn’t sound eerily familiar… we are not paying attention. Jesus proclaiming kindom come… was about a beloved community where everyone was one of the family… one of the community… and it is as radical today as it was then… It is a radical family grounded and founded in unconditional love and just the notion of unconditional love can send some of our family… off the deep end and cause them to claim others… out of their minds!
Going against the flow… Rather than giving into the fear of not fitting in… A fear of God that would prevent you embracing and welcoming a fellow human being… To choose the other… is to be seen as Out of Your Mind… by some… Paul writes to the Galatians… for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer male and female, I would also say… [there is no longer gay nor straight or transgender]; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
This passage, I believe, does not deny these identities, rather simply says in the body of Christ, in the community of faith, these are all included… part of the community, valued, appreciated, welcomed, and embraced… One community of love. The message of Jesus… is we need a revolution… We need a revolution of resistance to this culture of fear! We need a revolution of family, community… We need a revolution of radical, inclusive, unconditional, counter cultural, Turn the World Upside Down…
We Need a Revolution of The Way of Jesus… Fearless… Out of Your Mind… Radical Love!
May it Be So…
May it Be Now!