I wrote the following statement on Friday April 6th, 2012, the Friday before Easter. If you are a Christian you might recognize that as the day the church traditionally observes Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus’ crucifixion. Please be aware there is strong language
“I’ve kind of had it today. In a matter of fifteen minutes I experienced a face-to-face encounter with bigotry a woman who expected me to be bothered by two women speaking Spanish, to each other…and then learned of the Focus on the Family’s stance to fight anti-bullying legislation because ‘Christians should have the right to call a fag a fag.’ I thought my head would explode!”
Since that incident I have had several more encounters with bigotry, and I think it is time to speak. As a sole minister in a smallish (average size) mainline congregation, a politically left leaning woman in a politically right leaning community, I find myself stuck. I often feel stuck between fear and the prophetic word that reminds us how to follow Jesus. I am afraid of speaking truth because there are things I cannot afford to lose. Meanwhile I am afraid of staying silent because the most important thing that I cannot afford to lose is my faith.
I was raised in a household that loved kindness, sought justice and walked humbly with God. So, it was no surprise to my parents, I’m sure, when I decided to become a professional hippie in San Francisco (of all places). Unfortunately, what I learned is that real professional hippies, believe in their cause to the death. The only three things that I am that passionate about are my God, my family and my church, in that order. So I am distressed when my fear of offending my church interferes with my center mass, heart-felt desire to speak justice and teach what I have been taught. Namely:
WE LOVE BECAUSE WE HAVE FIRST BEEN LOVED
As a people and a church we have sometimes become so afraid to offend people that we are willing to give up who we are to keep people around. Today, I am tired of that.
Today I want to say and I want people to hear that I am a devout Christian and I love people who are Gay and I do NOT think their love or their sex (which is none of my business) is sinful.
Today I want to say and I want people to hear, I am a devout Christian and a patriotic American and I believe we are drawn closer together when we greet the stranger with radical hospitality and seek to genuinely know more about them and if they speak a different language we should learn their language as a way of broadening ourselves and welcoming them rather than closing our doors and our ears and saying: I don’t understand you, this is America learn English or get out.
Today I want to say and I want people to hear, I am a devout Christian and a patriotic America and a damn fine woman and I have a brain and a gift for learning and teaching the Bible and the lessons of Jesus and for teaching practices of faith and I am working hard to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit and God’s call for the church I am serving and NOTHING about my gender makes me less able to do any of that. In fact it might make me more able to do some of this vocation (no offense intended to my husband, father or other male colleagues).
Today I want to say and I want people to hear, I am a devout Christian and a patriotic American and a damn fine woman, raised in the south by proud southerners and I am white with all the privileges that affords me, and I know that I do not do enough to make my part of the world ANTI-RACIST. I am not proud of our country’s history of stealing humans and enslaving them. Our country has had, and still has a lot to over come. But even when we have elected a black man as president racism in our country has not changed that much. We have to do better. We have to speak truth to hate. I have to do better.
Today I am tired of the bigotry, the hatred, the fear and I want to tell the world and I want people to hear that there is a different message. We don’t have to live afraid of the other. We don’t have to be so mean and angry and fearful of each other. God made us all and as Children of God our differences are what make us images of God. Our brokenness is what makes us human and God forgives our fear and our action out of fear, healing our brokenness with grace that we do not deserve.
Enough with the bigotry, enough with the hatred, enough with the brokenness. Let God bring relief and healing into your fear and torn places. And hear God whisper in your ear, “you are not alone.”