How very much fear can rule our lives – and we are unaware. We calculate what we say, how we say it, to whom we say it. We fear losing the respect of others, or get caught up in what they think of us. We fear losing our position, our job, or a friend. As a result the light that we are is held back; our unique way of being and flavoring our world is diminished. Not to mention that fear is death dealing to the spirit.
I am saint and sinner. I fly to the heights and I sink to the depths – and both are my teachers. Although I write, preach, speak and sing I am by no means a guru and far from perfect – simply a fellow traveler, expressing what is within and trying to make sense of it all.
Be who you are.
Say what you believe.
And let the chips fall where they will.
At least you’ll be living!
Happy Easter and Spring to everyone! I pray that you are filled with a sense of hope and new life. And if you’re in a difficult place, I hope that you hold on in the knowledge that this difficulty WILL pass and life will get better.
One of the things that always amazes me during the Easter season is the very abrupt turn of events in the life of Jesus’ followers. They go from a very frightened band of people that basically ran away when the going got tough, due to their fear of being associated with this man, to a group of people filled with courage who spoke out openly. Even though they knew that they might be next on the chopping block, something happened within them. They walked through the fear and began to speak openly. They “came out” as it were. They went from a huddled group behind locked doors, to openly speaking and proclaiming the truth in the streets!
Any of us who are gay can relate. Any of us who have lived in fear of what people might think or what the consequences might be if people knew something about us can relate. Remember what it was like when the desire to live freely became greater than the fear that held you bound? Remember the frightening, exciting freedom when you first spoke freely and opened up to someone? This is the courage of the followers of Jesus. This is the courage of any who have taken a step beyond the fear of consequences into the light of freedom.
Is there something that you still hold inside, some fear that still rules you? The good news is this: once we make a move, once we even whisper our truth, we will begin to find others who will be a source of support, amidst those who might want to tear us down. We are never alone. Once we “come out,” once we speak up, we will find other “disciples” who will walk the journey with us.
“Reform your lives!” (Mark 1: 14-20)
So often we feel paralysed, seemingly incapable of “re-forming” things in our life or the life of our world.
I recently talked with a young gay man who works in a church and he spoke to me of the guilt he felt in representing a church who contributes to the pain of other gay people. He spoke sadly of the high suicide rate among gay and lesbian teens, largely because of the messages they receive from their churches about being bad, sick, disordered and an abomination. He is a music director in a church and loves inspiring people through music. He is also a man of faith. Yet he feels hypocritical for working for a religious institution that contributes to the death of young gay people through the messages they send out. I asked him to look for various ways, if even small, that he can send out a different message, even if it is one on one, ways in which he could be a leaven in the bread as it were. He’s not powerless to make a change.
Alone, we may not seem like we can do much to change things. But together, there is much that can change. I think of the motto of the Equal Rights Campaign – come out, come out – one person at a time. Little by little it adds up.
I also received an email from the publisher of “Epistle,” a web magazine for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender Christians. It is linked on my site here: epistle.us. He spoke of an email he received from a straight evangelical Christian who had been grappling with his church’s negative teachings about gay people. He found this site and it helped him realize that we are not aweful people, but human, Christian, struggling, . . . just like him. I realized in that email that what I write CAN make a difference in the lives of others and that is my desire. Nothing would make me feel better than to know that I had saved a life by what I write here.
Perhaps we can’t do everything to change things in our world, but each of us, no matter what our situation, can do some small thing to be an agent of change. Each of us can somehow be a part of the solution – no matter the problem that we’re seeking to change. And we need not be paralysed by ever thinking there’s nothing we can do.
Matthew 14: 1-12
Sometimes we are too concerned about what people will think and it affects the way we act. We often look at children and speak of them doing things to “fit in,” but don’t we adults do that as well? Sometimes we are afraid to go against the grain or to say or do something which might be a bit different.
In this Gospel, even though Herod has reservations, he has John the Baptist killed, all because he doesn’t want to appear soft or weak in front of his guests, let alone Herodias and her daughter! Killing, . . . just to keep up appearances! Seems pretty extreme!
When we hide and hold back the light of who we really are because we are afraid of what others might think, are we not “killing” a part of ourselves? Are we not extinguishing a light that might indeed make a difference for others in our world in a better way? Perhaps today we could let the light within us shine, and not care so much about what other people might think.
Matthew 13: 54-58
The local people that Jesus knew and grew up with were astonished at his wisdom and mighty deeds and they couldn’t believe it because he was indeed no one “special.” He was quite ordinary, no better than any of them. It’s interesting too how quickly the mood in the reading shifts from the people being astounded at such giftedness to being offended by him! If his words were so wise and his deeds so astonishing, you would think that they would have been proud of him. Instead, they drove him out. They didn’t believe the goodness that was right in front of their eyes could come from such a person.
Many of us who are gay experience this in our lives. People are often astonished, intrigued by us. We tend to be sensitive and to see life in a different way and people find that attractive. Many of us are gifted and talented. It’s all good and well, . . . until we come out openly and say who were are. In some families, circles of friends and even churches, once we say who we are, people quickly shift from being intrigued to being offended and we are subtlety or not so subtlety driven away. Our giftedness is suddenly not welcome.
The Christ left places where he was not welcome. He even told the disciples if a place doesn’t receive you, shake it’s dust from your feet and move on. The good news is, there are communities that will receive us and all that we have to offer. This is true not only of we who are gay, but others as well. If a person or a community is not honoring the giftedness of who you are, perhaps it’s time to move on to greener pastures!