Today is a writing day. I've carved out a block of several days to begin a writing project that I hope will be the first of several. I'm learning the ropes, the lingo, the style of the organization with which I'm working, developing relationships, doing a lot of trial and error discussion. I feel very uncharacteristically insecure in the process. Most of what I do for a living and work with the church and theology is very comfortable for me. Usually I feel quite sure of myself. (I'm sure that almost never comes across in this blog.... but I digress.) This experience feeling unsure and not at all confident that what I'm doing is what I'm supposed to be doing reminds me of my very first seminary class.
I had always wanted to study theology... I say always because I have no memory of a time when I did not yearn to study theology. But when I met Carter Heyward and Virginia Mollenkott in 2000 I had given up all hope of fulfilling that dream. I met them at two different retreats at a place called Kirkridge Retreat Center I had not read anything either of them had written although my partner certainly had read them both extensively. Meeting these women, reading their work, ingesting their thoughts into my own theological understanding and the friendships I have enjoyed with them in subsequent years have changed me beyond measure.
So I got to thinking about all the gay men, lesbian women and transgender and intersexual people whom I have known and with whom I have shared theological discussions and arguments. What would my life be like without them? I shutter to think of it. And of course the next thought is the dozens of good men and women who have been kicked to the curb and refused ordination in the Episcopal and Anglican Church of Canada and other Christian denominations because they love a person who is not the "right" gender. I began to think of their gifts and how much poorer the church universal is for not having their presence in leadership. What perspectives they might have brought us about what it's like to be left out, shut out, shut down, abused... we needed those gifts. Humanity needs their humanity.
The very idea that a GLBT person wants to be a part of any Christian church is utterly amazing and has only the prompting of the Holy Spirit as an explanation as far as I can tell. Surely it is only the Comforter who could possibly keep someone like my dear partner just as committed to visiting the sick and imprisoned, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and preaching the Good News today as she was when she was welcomed as a heterosexual woman into the priesthood. She like others serve in silence, taking the crumbs of whatever the Episcopal or Anglican church will throw their way, under the table... and always with a warning that it remain under the table.
I want to feel grateful to the Episcopal House of Bishops. But I just can't muster it. They did what they should have done. They stood up for those who are being persecuted BECAUSE OF THEIR FAITH!
Today, dear friends of mine with the Metropolitan Community Church are in Jamaica risking their lives to help GLBT people there establish churches so they can worship God and learn about their Christian faith. GLBT people are regularly beaten and murdered there, far from the lights of US media. And not one word about the violence from the US, Canadian or Jamaican branches of Anglicanism. I can't decide whether I'm more sad or angry. Maybe it's both.
But all of this has got me thinking that I'm grateful that Carter and Virginia didn't give up on God, didn't give up on Christianity, didn't give up on me. I'm a Christian for better or worse. I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus. And part of that journey for GLBT people is truly the way of the cross, sometimes to their graves... simply for loving, for worshiping, for being.
How long oh Lord, how long?