Rector's Blog: Proclaim the Blessing You See
The blog post is also available as a podcast.
I believe that LGBTQ+ people are a blessing to this world. The church community I serve, the Church of the Redeemer, affirms this belief, as does the Episcopal Church to which we belong. We do not always live into this belief perfectly, and I don’t want us to pretend otherwise. But as a Christian body, we seek to affirm and support our LGBTQ+ siblings both within and outside the church. We are committed to ensuring that Church of the Redeemer is an affirming, encouraging, and inspiring worshiping community where people of all genders and sexual orientations are empowered to Know Jesus and Grow in Love.
It is important that we members of the Church of the Redeemer recognize that our belief in the blessing, belonging, and full inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in the life of the church puts us in the minority of the Christian faith throughout history. This is difficult for us to accept sometimes: Episcopalians get really uncomfortable when we realize we are not part of the mainstream. But we are not part of the mainstream of Christianity when it comes to our recognition of the work of healing and blessing that God is doing, with, and through LGBTQ+ persons.
It’s important we recognize this because it highlights just how essential our voices are in this time and place. By and large when Christians speak up about LGBTQ+ love, it is in condemnation, it is to shame and marginalize. When speaking in Jesus’ name, Christians mostly seek to negate and deny the blessing of that love – our churches almost exclusively working to perpetuate either the so-called “healing” or outright ostracization of people who were made in God’s image.
But you are a blessing. Whatever your sexual orientation or gender, you are a blessing. However, you identify, you are a blessing. You are essential. You matter tremendously to God and to the people around you. Your expression of love is even now teaching this world a deeper understanding of what love truly is. You form the world and the Church into who it is to be. When you are seen, truly seen, the Spirit is revealed. We see God.
Seeing God at work in the world is the vocation of the Christian. I used to believe that it was a Christian’s job to go make the world better, more blessed, more worthy of God’s love – a love that I thought would be given out only very carefully and only to those who “deserved” it. God has shown me something different. I am learning more and more every day to trust that God is already at work in the world. God is blessing so many people, and God is loving and caring for this creation with or without me. It is not the Christian’s job to bring God into the world: It’s our job to recognize where God already is and proclaim the blessing we see.
In our church we have finally begun to recognize the obviousness of God’s presence and blessing in the lives and love of our LGBTQ+ siblings. We are very much at the beginning of this new understanding. And, yes, The Episcopal Church seeks to be supportive, yes, the Church of the Redeemer seeks to be accepting, yes, I seek to be affirming, but is that enough? Is it enough for us simply to say, “All are welcome here” or “You can be who you are”? Actually, I don’t think it is. We have to actively name the blessing that LGBTQ+ people are in our lives and in this world. We have to have it written in our hearts such that naming this blessing is a natural part of our Christian identity. And we have to do this for three reasons:
- Proclaiming the blessing of LGBTQ+ people in this world will change us as Christians. It will change our church. It will change how we understand God. It will change how we understand one another. Every time we see blessing in someone, our experience of God’s presence is expanded and deepened. God’s magnificent Love becomes more obvious, more powerful, more clear in our lives when we see it in places we hadn’t before. And we are transformed in a way that glorifies God.
- Our LGBTQ+ siblings continue to be harmed in Jesus’ name by other members of our Christian family. We cannot sit back and say that it doesn’t matter to us. We have seen Jesus’ anger directed towards religious leaders who used their power and privilege to sideline or exploit others. And the prophets of Israel spoke harshly to those in the community who did not actively work to incorporate all people into the abundance of God’s love. Voices of hate and exclusion ring so loudly. Will we speak the truth of the Love we see with that same volume and strength?
- God is already doing the work. God is blessing LGBTQ+ persons. God is creating them. God is caring for them. God is revealing something new and glorious through them. Will we have eyes to see what God is doing? God will see that LGBTQ+ persons know their value, their belovedness, their belonging, and God will do it with or without us. Which would you prefer? Will you partner with God in the holy work of justice, healing, and reconciliation?
I want to. I want to partner with God. I want to see blessing where God blesses. I want to speak and sing and shout and pray the Love of God that is manifest in my LGBTQ+ siblings. I want to be transformed, to be converted. I want to follow Jesus. And as one who works with you in this community, I want us every day to make Church of the Redeemer more Christlike, to make The Episcopal Church more obedient to God’s commandment to love. I want us to work together to make Christianity more sincere in its prayer to God, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God is bringing the love and blessing of the Beloved Community to us here and now. Will we see it? Will we embrace it? Will we proclaim it?