For the LGBT community, particularly here in America, the winds of change are strong! How exciting to be living in such a time. Even within Cathedral of Hope, a predominantly LGBT UCC congregation I belong to, there is change. Part of that change has seen the return of beloved Rev. Shelley Hamilton to the chancel, and this past Sunday, the pulpit.<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/69473603″>Beyond Stonewall – SERMON</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user9484571″>CoHTV</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
Rev. Shelley shared her lifetime of memories being a queer person of faith as she recalled the history of the modern gay rights movement, the establishment of the first gay-affirming church, and her own faith struggles. Her sermon contained some lovely passages about the fight for equality, the bravery of those who stepped up to care for those with AIDS, and what it meant to be a queer and believe in God, resulting in my favorite passage:
And sometimes, instead of marching, we danced.
And we danced simply because we were in love with who we were becoming.
And we sang because our hearts were racing with hope.
Our lives were in the light and we felt damn good about it.
This message, while directed to LGBT people who profess a faith in a divine Creator–particularly those who’ve grown comfortable with where we are today and those who have been told God couldn’t possibly love them, should be watched by anyone who believes in God, particularly heterosexual Christians who grapple with the borders of their faith extending to the inclusion of homosexuals. Her message greatly stirred my spirit–much as messages from pastors like Don Vinzant, Stan Reid, Chris Frizzell, and Jeff Berryman once did during my faith journey–and reasserted why belief in the divine is so important and why action on that very faith matters.
But Rev. Shelley pushes that message further, further than I’ve ever heard it applied. In explaining “a wind always sweeps in and ignites the divine within us” (as it has always done), she reminded me that the divine is always inside of me, too. She challenges God’s beautiful rainbow-colored, queer creations–who she points out “are among all peoples in the world”–to realize that now is the time for us to change the world–not just for social acceptance but to model unconditional love and kindness and healing. She dared us to imagine how impactful such behavior could be because we queers are often marginalized, on the borders of those who are loved and accepted, treated cruelly, bullied, and so often have love, respect, and equality withheld from us.
In the call to move beyond Stonewall, Rev. Shelley called us to consider the “role of gay people of faith” right now, in this very moment in time, and to take action “for such a time as we find ourselves in,” suggesting “it’s time to give up parades and start marching” and reminding us that the fight for equality is not near over. She wisely asserted multiple times:
“NONE of us is free until we’re ALL free.”
Indeed, the spirit of God is calling us to move beyond Stonewall. It is calling us to a far greater work where queer peoples of faith can not only rally and protest and fight for equality, but also comfort, reassure, and help restore those who have lost their way or their faith and proclaim that God’s love covers us all–queer and not queer.
It is time, indeed.
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