Following last night’s event at First United Methodist Church in Orlando, I am resuming posts in this “For the Bride” category. Previous posts were essentially expansions on things I wrote about in my book, ‘For the Sake of the Bride’ (Abingdon Press, 2014). You can go back to them as you like.
The revived posts in this series continue the journey, enabling me to add new thoughts to the series. I am beginning with reposting a few things I put on Facebook earlier today, so they can be archived in a better way. If you have already seen them, skip them and wait for upcoming new posts. Here is the reflection I posted earlier on Facebook about last evening…
Last evening Jeannie and I had the opportunity to spend time with LGBTQ+ folks, allies, and others who came to hear my presentation, “All Means All: The Bible’s Affirmation of LGBTQ+ Persons.”
It was a moving evening for me, because a planned segment of the evening included some Q&A, and I visited personally with some others as well.
In the span of two hours, I met people who had been kicked out of their homes by Christian parents when they came out. I heard of someone who died by suicide within the past month because Christians had drained him of his sense of humanity.
And in addition to this, I heard again stories from LGBTQ+ Christians who were worship leaders, choir members, youth ministers, lay leaders, and serving Christ in other ways in churches……until…..until. All they had to do was say, “I’m gay” and they were gone–told by pastors and fellow Christians (in a variety of ways) that they were “less than” people, no longer permitted to minister in the congregation. Some were paid staff members, who were told to clean out their desks and leave the building.
And yet, here they all were last evening in First UMC Orlando–still coming to church believing that there is a difference between how they have been treated by the church and how God feels about them. Still believing that the Inner Voice who says, “You are my beloved” is the true voice, not the voices they have heard from Christian parents, pastors, and friends who say, “You’re an abomination.”
The imago dei is in everyone, and nothing can snuff it out–not even the voices of those who claim to speak for God…but do not. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.” And our LGBTQ+ friends know this at a deeper level than many of us “hetero-privileged”, “church-approved” people do.
Last evening, Jeannie and I were blessed to be with our siblings in Christ. And oh my yes, there is a difference between our ragamuffin fellowship and the sanitized “pure church mentality” that does all it can to preserve itself. Last evening, we were among God’s beloved children, who welcomed us with open arms, and who offered us Christ from a depth of experience that is always a thin place between heaven and earth when love prevails. We “had church”–oh my, did we ever!