Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Where Faith Needs to Meet LGBT People

Excerpted from a letter I wrote to a group planning an interfaith service for Oct 10 on the eve of the March on Washington.

If the Holy One is calling us to to this thing we need to trust in that and let our egos go. Too many opportunities to bring us together as people of faith, let alone as people with a common cause have been lost to quibbling.

Someone asked for my approval [of idea for a liturgy/order of worship]. I cannot give my approval only my reaction as a person raised in a particular tradition in a particular time. Communion is a concept that, no matter how it is couched will offend someone who is not Christian. Altar Call has a very specific connotation that will send some LGBT screaming, particularly those raised in the pentecostal tradition or those who may have been subjected to reparative therapy...

Does any of this mean that I believe that the concept should be sacrificed because it may offend my sensibilities. NO! I believe in a God that speaks to me through the Episcopal Tradition and to others through their own traditions...

So let's build on those things which we hold in common. There are Hebrew, Christian and Muslim scriptures and Hindu, Buddhist and Daoist writings that can be used to support the basic tenets of human dignity and love for one another. That is what is at the foundation of our faith and our movement. Let us celebrate that.

I have shared before that Bishop Steve Charleston, former bishop of Alaska and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge preached a message of environmental stewardship with passion and fervor that some would call pentecostal. I would call it spirit driven. He held a group of Episcopalians, often called the "Frozen Chosen" in his hand and poured out his heart. He called "Am I telling you the truth?!" and the response was, "Yes!" Remember, these are Episcopalians who many would say were probably worried about whether they used the correct fork during the fish course at brunch. Every word he said would be as powerful in a mosque or synagogue.

He could as easily have delivered the message of religion's abuse at the hand of bigots. I know because he did at the Integrity Eucharist in Denver in 2000. It changed my life.

We need a preacher/rabbi/imam with passion to deliver the message that many LGBT are hungry to hear. God loves you. You are missed in the faith that raised you or your parents. There is a place of worship that is less because you are not there. There are people who's love will never be whole until you are a part of their circle. You may have to force your way back in to some of these places, but in the days, months and years to come they will rejoice and celebrate your return.

Folks, I am lay person. I am not trained in homiletics. But I do know the message that must be delivered.

NOW... we must work together, without regard for ownership or ego to see that in one place in Washington DC at one time at least one new person hears that message.

Let the people say, "Amen."

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