I know I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been a whirlwind few months. I was licensed and installed in May. Then I became the solo pastor in June – in the midst of Pride month, a busier time than usual. I am now recovering from surgery, preparing to move, and accompanying one family in the planning of their child’s baptism and another in the planning of their 24-year-old beloveds funeral. There has also been a death in our local LGBTQ youth community – many of whom are street based or struggling with housing instability. With that in mind, here is my #lovewins confession from a few sundays ago.
My confession today comes from the lectionary 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 which reads:
5:1 Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, “Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.” 5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5:5 At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. 5:10 And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.
My confession this week is the same as it was last week: I cannot seem to get excited about the Marriage Equality “victory.” Yes, I have many friends who have been waiting for this moment, elders who tell stories about how they “never thought they would see the day.” We’ve come such a long way, they say. And this only makes me more sad.
I’m sad because marriage doesn’t change a goddamn thing for many of the young people I’m in community with. That is, LGBTQ folk of color (QTPOC) struggling with housing instability and homelessness, joblessness, and other forms of institutional violence. For many of them, Marriage Equality is still only a freedom granted to those who can afford it. That is, freedom fundamentally rooted in a capitalistic system that oppresses them daily. My (facebook) friend YaliniDream writes:
You would think. That I would be. Rejoicing in the streets. Now that Gay Marriage has been legalized in the US. And yes, it is amazing. When I was a child, all I knew about being gay was the TV show “Three’s Company.” Now, on every major news network LGBTQ people are speaking openly about their experiences, expressing their love, claiming their dignity, and celebrating their relationships. My wife and I, though not legally married, have the choice to access rights that impact how we raise children, care for each other when sick, and share resources. Still, as I raise my glass, my heart aches and pounds deeply. And it is infuriating some members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual community that I am not celebrating with them, wholeheartedly… …If a Gay person has the money, social mobility, and/or can pass for straight, they can move to a community surrounded by other Gay people, get a job that’s Gay-friendly or at least where they can mask their sexuality or identity. They can hang out with only Gay people and not engage with homophobes. They can use their economic power and privilege to get the political and legal system to work for them. …Thus, when I raise my glass to toast for Gay Marriage, it trembles with anxiety-ridden clinks. I think of the backlash that many of the people I love– especially Working Class & Poor Trans People of Color– are vulnerable to. …Many within the TLGBQ community in the US are in the midst of mourning the staggering weekly murder rates of Trans Women that opened 2015, while additionally mourning the horrific police, hate and other gang violence committed this year; the increases of detention and deportation; and the horrific abuse(s) endured in a prison industrial complex that breeds more violence than stops it. …As I breathe into my bitterness, sadness, anger, and fear, I discover that I also hunger the less fractured movements my critics get angry at me for illuminating. As I breathe, I remind myself that in the midst of great sorrow is an opportunity to expand empathy, connect deeper, and express care. …I remember that rainbows are not symbols of betrayal, but a magical vision of bold unapologetic color that manifests when Sun meets the rain– our rays mix with tears; when thunder booms and lightning strikes in the shine of our most intimate star. This reminder helps me to envision mass movements united in lifting up, having the backs of, and taking leadership from, the most vulnerable, subversive, and courageous amongst us. …I dream of mass movements so powerful that we radically shift the course of humanity! I see us breaking the boundaries that separate us so that we truly love deeper and better. Read her full reflection here.
To come back to the lectionary text for today, how did David do it? How did David lead for 40 years?
In this particular story, David is purported to be someone who held on to a vision of a better world; it is not dissimilar to our benediction each week when we say “hold fast to that which is good.” Which is to say, there are moments when this world feels so discouraging and disheartening – even in the midst of “victory” because too many of our folks are dying. However, as Christians, we must hold fast to a vision of the kindom of heaven where love does indeed win. Will you join me in a prayer? PRAYER God, it is so easy to become discouraged and lose sight of that which is good in this world. We get lost along the way as we work towards bringing your kindom of heaven down to earth. Help us to be your Beloved Community. Remind us to stop and celebrate the victories—both big and small—or a the very least, celebrate with others in ways that are co-liberating. Lead us, guide us along the way. Amen. WORDS OF ASSURANCE Our words of assurance can be found in the last line of 2 Samuel: And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts was with him. Guiding him. In Psalm 48 it reads:
48:1 Great is the LORD and greatly to be praised in the city of our God. [God’s] holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth… 48:3 Within its citadels God has shown [God’s self to be] a sure defense. 48:4 Then the kings assembled, they came on together. 48:5 As soon as they saw it, they were astounded; they were in panic, they took to flight; 48:6 trembling took hold of them there, pains as of a woman in labor, 48:7 as when an east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish. 48:8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God, which God establishes forever. Selah 48:9 We ponder your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple. 48:10 Your name, O God, like your praise, reaches to the ends of the earth. Your right hand is filled with victory. [love wins!] 48:11 Let Mount Zion be glad, let the towns of Judah rejoice because of your judgments. 48:12 Walk about Zion, go all around it, count its towers, 48:13 consider well its ramparts; go through its citadels, that you may tell the next generation 48:14 that this is God, our God forever and ever. [She/They] will be our guide forever.
God will continue to guide us, forever and ever—in our faithfulness and our feelings of defeat. When love wins, and when “love” doesn’t feel like it’s enough.
“Because when we LOVE each other, we feed and nurse each other. We raise our children, no matter how different they are, with undying dedication, collective understanding, and compassion. We share. When we love each other, we listen to each others pain. We take responsibility for our oversights and harmful actions. We change. We grow. And we Win. Because it always does. LoveWins.” – Yalini real T, alli