November 10, 2008

Walk Hand In Hand

I experienced a paradox this past week in Minneapolis. Immersed in a conference that celebrates inclusiveness and the joining of hearts and hands, I took an online break and read posts of heartbreak and righteous anger. The men who wrote those posts join the thousands who cried out when they learned of the passage of legislation in three states that further restrict the rights to a normal life for same-sex couples. They have had their rights stolen from them by self-righteous zealots who claim to be following the word of God.

Those misguided, misinformed miscreants could not be more wrong. They have hammered their cultural bias upon Scripture and forged it into a weapon. They brand LGBT persons as outcasts, unlovable by God and therefore by Christians. I cannot—I will not— accept the status quo. Tradition does not in itself imbue truth. It is possible to be wrong for a long time. The Bible is being used by some to keep the world the same; but Scripture is a starting point, not an ending point. We must add to the structure begun by Scripture, a dynamic framework upon which we build.

This conference helped me learn more how to take my church on the journey to intentionally welcome the LGBT community. Framing the workshops were a number of worship services. Sitting in worship, knowing that every person in attendance was committed to welcoming everyone—and especially the gay community—was a rich experience. In one service the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus overflowed the choir loft behind the chancel and filled the flanking stairways up to the balcony. Just prior to the sermon, the men in the chorus put down their folios and grasped hands to sing "Walk Hand In Hand." These men of all ages, all shapes, all sizes, dressed in jacket and tie and joined hand by hand by hand, were beautiful. They lifted up their voices in glorious song. It gave me chills (again as I write this) and brought tears to my eyes to witness the moment. This, this, is what I want to see every Sunday in my church. This is where I feel welcome.

It struck me that, because of the silence on homosexuality, I do not feel fully welcome in my home church. As long as I keep my feelings closeted, I am greeted with smiles and open arms; but it feels like it's under false pretenses. I want to shout out what I know and still see those smiles and feel those hugs. Will it happen? We shall see. I am burning with hope and purpose, that this is what I will help bring to fruition.


the hobbit said...

Jesus said: The truth will set you free. He didn't say anyone would suggest an impromptu parade in your honor.


Good luck baby. We're behind you. Thank you for being a voice.

LiftThineEyes said...

"This, this, is what I want to see every Sunday in my church. This is where I feel welcome."

Birdie, you have expressed what I feel exactly. The name "Christian" may have been misused and become a hurtful thing to some, but Christianity's source is the teaching about loving your neighbour as yourself, and the neighbour being the person you may least expect...carry on with your wonderful work, knowing you have the support of others who may be far away.

Christopher said...

Ah! I'm so glad you wrote about the TCGMC! I had no idea about it, honestly! I'm an avid singer and I sing karaoke like 3 times a week...I'm glad to know I'll be joining a choir when I move next year!!! :-)

Ur-spo said...

i suggest you keep going to your church
it needs dissidence and challenges and tests of their christian values.

Birdie said...

Ur-spo, I'm not leaving my church. (I've been a member for 26 years and on staff for 11.) I decided some time ago that nothing will change unless someone steps up; and in this case that someone appears to be me (at least in part). My church is nothing like those awful groups that say such hateful things, but it's mostly just silent. I'm going to make some people uncomfortable, but that's okay. I'm uncomfortable now with the way things are. It takes discomfort to change.

Greg said...

Birdie, may all blessings flow to you for the efforts you make on our behalf! Thank you for putting your heart into this.

I think an impromptu parade in your honor sounds like great fun!!

Candles, anyone? My word ver is "taper".