This post was originally published on the blog of Reconciling Works, an LGBTQIA+ Lutheran organization. The original post can be found here: https://www.reconcilingworks.org/my-story-your-story-our-story-lenten-devotionals-of-lgbtqia-lutherans-carla-christopher-wilson/
A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.
Galatians 5:9 NRSV
I once said “Being Black, LGBTQIA+, and ELCA is the only time in my life I’ve ever been part of the 1%!” Spoken with humor, it is nevertheless my reality. I walk into space after space and experience a sea of faces who do not look like me, hear voices that do not speak like mine, and sit in worship rich with cultural traditions that are lovely but have little personal significance to me. There is love and celebration in these spaces, but I still often feel like a guest or a visitor in a space not my own. So why do I stay? Because I know I am not the only person to feel alone or apart in the Body of Christ, and I know we renegades are the hope, the life, and the growth of God’s church.
This short passage comes from Paul writing to a fledgling community of Jesus followers caught up in tradition and law. He tells them flat out they are missing the point because “the ONLY thing that counts is faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6b NRSV). The validation in this is my queer rebel Black women touch stone. The places Jesus invites us to challenge ourselves to go deeper, to grow and to strengthen, are not in dressing, loving, or thinking like those who share our pew. Our faith and our love are…and who knows better how to love than LGBTQIA+ individuals? We, who have journeyed deeply to know ourselves, who have fought on multiple fronts for the right to love freely, who have created circles of care and families of choice that saw us through the most challenging of times, we know love. Our faith is brave and resilient, creative and resourceful.
New ideas, signs of hope, or the spark in invention that leads to progress rarely comes from the majority. The status quo does not birth inspiration. Jesus was only one, and his path was difficult and lonely at times because of it. The same can be said for most of the early apostles and Martin Luther himself. It was the Holy Spirit paired with their outsider perspective and refreshing message that sparked a movement which changed the face of faith and the church in the world. A famous Margaret Mead quote reads, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” The hope, the future, and the joy of the church lies in the margins, and the gifts of those who may be small in number, but are great in love.
Beloved outsider, when we experience feelings of loneliness or isolation, help us to remember that you are with us, celebrating our uniqueness as a gift to your church. Empower and encourage us to make a difference in the church and the world through the witness of our faith and love. Amen.