Visible Witness from the Intersection

a journey through the love of Christ reflecting the spectrum of gender and sexuality.

Maundy Thursday Reflection from Pastor Spellman April 1, 2010

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The ability to empathize is a gift.  To hear someone else’s story and to experience as if it were your own develops a holy connection that I believe God blesses.

Have you, too, read the stories of the past forty days and felt the pain and anger of so many of these journeys in faith and sexuality as if they were precisely your own?  Have you superimposed others’ stories on your own life, feeling your own pain all the more acutely as it joins with that of others?

That has been my walk this Lent, particularly through the guidance of our sisters and brothers who have been bold enough to share pieces of their stories of brokenness and healing.  With each one, I’ve been broken, too.

And then we come to Holy Week – the week in which we re-live our collective brokenness as we journey from Palm Sunday to today, Maundy Thursday.  And we see the example of a God who acts in perfect empathy beyond anything any of us could muster, who kneels at the disciples’ dirty and smelly feet and washes them, summoning us to do the same.

It could all be so overwhelming.  It is. Trying to walk in Jesus’ footsteps means having some version of a Calvary experience.  For me, that re-living is so difficult that I feel depressed every Holy Week around now.  Many of you do, too.

But then I remember that God achieved the most complex things in very simple actions.  And salvation is God’s work, not mine.  So I set my sights on the simple things before me.  God doesn’t call me to a cross.  Rather, God calls me to kneel at your feet.

Then, knowing that we’ll find our way to the cross, anyway, God nourishes us with a meal for the journey, giving us Christ to sustain us in an act of God’s perfect, empathic love.

May we but share in that love, for by this, we will know that we are Christ’s disciples.

-The Rev. Kaji Rosa Spellman

 

Living in Truth March 29, 2010

Filed under: Daily Devotional Pages — visiblewitness @ 4:38 am
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I was in the closet for most of my life: I didn’t come out until I was 65.  Such hiding is wearisome indeed, because of the enormous energy required to pretend to be straight.  Religion at first encouraged my deception.  I prayed mightily to be straight, because from the ‘40s to the ‘80s, both church and society seemed to say that straight was the only acceptable way to be.  But my struggle to hide became harder, and, at Saint Peter’s, I knew many out gay people who seemed comfortable with their homosexuality.  So, their simple presence caused me to question more and more my wearisome struggle to be straight.

A line from the Gospel of John kept coming to me: “…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). My truth was that I was gay, and I slowly realized that I didn’t need to live a lie trying to be straight.

Saint Peter’s and particularly its gay members stood with me, often without knowing it, as I gradually gave up my wearisome burden.  Today my prayer is for all gay people, particularly young people, to feel that God loves them as they are.


-Peter McNamara

 

The Word of God Is Love March 28, 2010

Filed under: Daily Devotional Pages — visiblewitness @ 4:37 am
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When I witness hatred of others because of those they love, I feel ashamed.  When I read about attacks on people because of those they love, I feel anger.  When I hear speech used as a weapon against others because of those they love, I feel weary.

But the hate of others, the attacks of others and the words of others are not my adversaries.  Fear is my adversary—my own fear as much as the fear of others.

I pray that the Word of God will enter the hearts, the hands and the mouths of others, and maybe that will come to pass.  But I know that the Word of God can enter my heart and take my shame from me.  I know that the Word of God can enter my hands and take my anger from me.  And I know that the Word of God can sustain my weary heart and help me love those who would hate me, those who would attack me and those who would call out against me.  For the Word of God is “love” and “love” is the only answer for fear.

-T.J. Fitzgerald

 

Hope Along the Way March 25, 2010

It was the bold witness and work of the civil rights movement that inspired lesbian and gay people to move out of the shadows. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that the arc of a moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

I grew up with the civil rights movement. There seemed to be a staight path to equality – until Malcolm and Martin were killed.  In the early 1970’s, it seemed like recognition and equality were within reach.  But then the forces of fear gathered strength.  When Anita Bryant got gay teachers fired, I gave up the thought of becoming a teacher.  She got the gay rights ordinance repealed in Dade County, FL, and St. Paul, MN followed suit.  And then, in 1978, Harvey Milk was assassinated.

And now, over thirty years later, the arc is still bending, however slowly.  We look to the example of Mildred Loving, the black woman who won the battle to marry her white husband but said, “It wasn’t my doing.  It was God’s work.” Before her death in 2008, she had added her voice to the cause of full marriage equality.

Sometimes you have to step back to see the full curve of that arc if you don’t want to be discouraged by losses along the way.

-Eric Stenshoel

 

The Struggle to Live in Truth and Faith March 23, 2010

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We all work to examine ourselves: who we are, what we do, and where we are going.  In my process of self-examination, I look for help from friends, therapy, meditation and prayer. I know that the answers are not easy nor are they always definitive.

It is not easy to question ourselves.

To recognize and to acknowledge that I am gay was not easy. But it is not easy to be a Christian, either. It is not easy to break with the teachings of my past, or those things that are blocking me and even distracting me, making me feel as if I cannot receive the infinite love and kindness of God.

And so I struggle to be optimistic, persistent, and humble. I struggle to believe in a promising future. I must remember to trust God, and to continue in the work to find peace with myself and with my neighbor. I call upon God to continue to refine me.  I ask for help knowing that I cannot do it alone. I pray with the strength God has implanted within me to reinforce my faith that I may live in the example of Christ.

My goal is to know that I did everything that I could in this lifetime to follow Christ’s example, that I will have fulfilled my promises and duties as a Christian, that I will have lived always with full confidence in God.

I suppose that we all have “closets” or secrets. In my own search for truth, I am clinging to my faith in God.  I pray that this will bring me peace and a more joyful life.

-Walter Perez

 

Sharing Gifts March 22, 2010

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Giving away our talents and sharing gifts given to us has been the rule in my family. I had been encouraged to be creative, blaze any trail that went in a positive direction, and stand up straight and smile.

At the age of 13, and as a new resident of the Midwest, I was excited to discover that my new church had a handbell choir for kids. I enthusiastically joined as the only boy in a group of girls; I loved it!  While in high school, I taught Sunday school to 5-year-olds and continued pursuing art, music, drama.  I was also part of a puppet troupe that told bible stories to kids in the surrounding Lutheran grade schools. My family and key teachers challenged me and supported all my ideas. Although considered “women’s work” by some, I learned to ignore teasing and negative comments about doing the things I love, the things that I could contribute.

Imagine my confusion, then, when as a young adult I discovered “whom God planned for me to date and eventually fall in love with.”  Although I always had the best female friends, it was with other guys that I found romantic happiness. There was no support on this path, and the response I received was negative. Giving of myself in this way was not allowed, and dating no one was better than having a relationship with a man.

I learned again to smile and to stand up straight, and strive to keep giving.

To use the words of Oscar Wilde:

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.

-Kristian Kraai

 

We Are a Work in Progress March 21, 2010

Filed under: Daily Devotional Pages — visiblewitness @ 4:05 am
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Sex is often a word that gets us in trouble.  Yet most adults would proclaim the joys of sex.  But is sexuality eternal?

Unfortunately, probably not.  Jesus may have answered this question when he responds to some Sadducees who ask him to whom a widow is married in the resurrection if she marries each of seven brothers after each brother dies.  Jesus answers, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like angels in heaven” [Matthew 22: 30].   In the resurrection we may realize our eternal nature and cast off our sexual attributes.

My guess is that as eternal souls we are not sexual beings.  Being straight or gay is not part of our eternal being.  God creates us to live eternally.  We are a work in progress.  Our sexuality helps us to live in this world.  Being bisexual, gay, lesbian, straight, or transgendered helps us to get to know one another as human beings.  Being sexual is a temporary gift from God.  Let us enjoy it while we can.

Many folks don’t realize that being gay can actually give some definite blessings.  Being gay, lesbian, or transgendered encourages a person to look behind the human façade which many of us present to others.  Gays may be looking to find out if they are accepted.  This search may lead us to look at what is behind a smiling face.  Do we see suffering under what appears to be beauty?  Or do we see spiritual beauty behind what is a terrible physical disease?  I know of many straight folks who look behind our human masks too.  Seeking the human truth within ourselves and others may help us to see life through both the eyes of the younger brother or the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. Hopefully someday we will all come to realize that we are all blessed to be human and that our Father loves us all equally.

-Tom Dorsey