(#50 in a series of people who changed the course of my life)
If Jesus were around today, I think he’d have a lot of things to say to our churches–things that unfortunately might be akin to the “den of vipers” and “white-washed tombs” language we read about in Bible times.
But if he found himself at Galileo Church out in the ‘burbs, he wouldn’t be saying those things about them. Because you see, his disciple Rev. Katie Hays--not to be confused with Katie Holmes like I did for the first three months I knew her–is one of those people rolling up her sleeves and changing the world. Her example has impacted me to my very core.
I’ll admit that I was surprised to find a progressive faith voice outside the city–much less a faith community that proclaimed inclusion of everyone–including gay and transgender people–as a primary tenet of who they are. In fact, I was taken aback when, earlier this year, Rev. Katie messaged me to ask if “they could come” to our marriage equality rally.
“Where are you from?” I asked.
She replied, “Mansfield.”
“Mansfield? Really?” I don’t know why that surprised me so, but it did.
And the rest of the story is a continuation of what it looks like to be Jesus Christ in the world today. That cold night in January, she and members of her church showed up, displaying a touching solidarity. Pretty much on the spot, she delivered an beautiful message of love, inclusion, and solidarity–purely motivated out of her faith. Since then, I have gotten a bit broader glimpse into the theology Katie Hays-not-Holmes imbues as I have heard her speak and watched her put her body into movements designed to call attention to injustice.
OK–first of all, you can’t help but feel pure joy when you see her smile or when you hear her speak. There’s so much sincerity, gentleness, and love in that smile and in her voice. I myself can’t help but be motivated when I hear her talk with such conviction about what motivates her to work to reach out to economically disadvantaged people and to radically welcome LGBT people–and for doing it in a suburb. When I’m around her, I feel stronger and more impassioned myself, because I see in her exactly what we are called to be in the world–wherever we find ourselves in life. Not a pastor per se–but a regular person living out what love looks like.
I feel the tug of authentic joy that emanates from the core of her being. And in today’s world, that kind of radiance makes her the perfect antidote to messages propagated by too many vipers and dead men’s bones in the world today.