The peace of Christ is coming into the world, once again. Yesterday marked the beginning of Advent for Christians who follow a Lectionary calendar. If you're keeping up it's Year B in the Revised Common Lectionary. The readings for yesterday were grim and menacing. An angry, name taking, bum kicking God that we can't seem to figure out if we want to come near or go away from. This angry image of God reminds me of how I felt as a child when my father was really angry with me. I was terrified of him and yet I was so hurt that he withdrew his love from me in his anger I just wanted to run to him and wrap my arms around his waist and cry and beg him to love me again. Needless to say, this is not a helpful image to me as a 52 year old lesbian struggling with health issues, time constraints, fears about the economy, not understanding why I have so many wonderful projects and jobs and calls to ministry in my life.
Last night I read the sermon of a close friend who spoke about the concept of hope enfolded in our duty to "actively" wait this advent. I got such a clear image of the difference in standing around, shuffling feet, passing the time until my issue is addressed, my email is responded to, my phone call returned. But it's a very different thing to live more fully into the Serenity Prayer and "actively" wait.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I canno change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. So what if I've made the decision that there ARE some things I can do to change the injustice of bigotry and hatred toward people who are gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender (GLBT). I live as an out lesbian, I stand up for civil rights for all people, I critique my own community's understanding of bisexual and transgender issues, I work for equal marriage rights for everyone even as I am outspoken about the pitfalls of reproducing the heterosexist dominant paradigm with all it's attendant power dynamics issues. I call myself "queer" sometimes to shock people, sometimes to make the GLBTQI (yes there are more!) alphabet soup more palatable, and sometimes to refer to a theoretical space called "queer." And in all those three cases I'm just strapping on the word and wearing it like a souvenier.
Queer is not GLBTQI, queer is not homosexuals having equal rights to marry, queer is not who I have sex with or how many or how often. Queer is tearing down the power structures that trap people in oppressive systems that beat them down and stifle their creativity and spirituality. Queer means walking through life doing power analysis on every structure, system, institution and relationship in my life. Queer means working for justice at every turn. And maybe most importantly, queer means using my privilege as a white, educated, middle classed woman to work for justice for those who are oppressed by MY privilege. Yes I need to work for equal treatment and an end to homophobia. But I actually am duty bound, I believe, as a Christian, to work HARDER for those who are oppressed by my privilege. I can't just strap on the name queer when I want to or when it suits me. I need to live queer, be queer, work for justice queer.
So I look at my life and I do what I can. I do whatever I can on each day at each juncture. And while I'm waiting, and I will surely have to wait for the results of my labour, I work for justice in another area. Yesterday I wrote a response to what I percieved to be short sighted letter that I thought promoted hate toward people whose religion is Islam. I wrote my response and that was what I could do yesterday. Last night I stood over the body of a man who had lived with his transgender partner for 40 years and said prayers for him, for her, for my friends who loved him, too. Today I can write this blog and begin to articulate what I learned from my friend's sermon about active waiting and responsibility and what it really means to be queer. Tomorrow and Wednesday and Thursday and on will provide more opportunities.
A week ago tonight I sat in hospital all night waiting for blood transfusions to be delivered into my body. I watched the bag of blood, I called the nurse when the alarm went off, I kept awake to be mindful of the infusion line and be sure it was not kinked or clogged, I watched movies and did my best to busy myself and remain calm and not fight what needed to happen. I spent a whole night awake, waiting, watching, listening and keeping my mind busy so I didn't become more of a burden on the nurses who were caring for me.
That was active waiting, much like the waiting of pregnancy. Women who have been pregnant have a special understanding of active waiting. Taking care of their bodies, preparing the home, just getting through the day when tiredness and physical pain slows her down. And the family prepares and buys and rearranges the house to make room for the new addition. These are just a few examples of how actively we await a pregnancy.
So what if we make a decision this Advent to actively wait for justice by working for justice at every turn.... not just for our own issues, but by using our privilege to help others? Waiting, watching, working, praying. Let's have a very queer Advent that causes us to look at the power structures around us and evaluate anew what we can do... one day at a time. And then do it, do something.... one day at a time.
It's snowing and the wind is howling. The US is in a recession. Our neighbors are hungry and frightened. Let's work together.
The peace of Christ is coming into the world again. Thanks be to God.