Today I am guest blogging over at RevGalBlogPals. You can read the whole article here.
“I will never forget an encounter I had several years ago with someone who claimed to be an LGBT ally. When he misgendered a high schooler we both knew, I reminded him that this youth’s pronouns are they/them. He dismissively responded: “Well, I just don’t understand that.” Then he misgendered the youth again.
Misgendering and deadnaming someone is disrespectful and incredibly harmful. As the Trevor Project reported: “Transgender and nonbinary youth attempt suicide less when respect is given to their pronouns and they are allowed to officially change their legal documents.”
Respecting a person’s pronouns and affirmed names can literally save lives.
And the thing is, when we “just don’t understand,” that lack of understanding is a big indicator that we have a lot more work to do.
In the church (and in every community we are a part of), we must do better for our young people and for all our LGBTQIA+ siblings.
Rainbows and inclusive welcome statements are important ways to signal to LGBTQIA+ youth and people of all ages that the spaces they will be entering are safe and welcoming. However, we must be doing everything we can to ensure that these spaces are – in fact – safe for everyone who enters those doors. We need to be continuously educating ourselves and others. We should be asking ourselves how our spaces uplift heteronormativity and cisnormativity and thus who is being harmed and excluded. Then we must work toward change.”
Today I’m blogging over at Revgalblogpals. You can find the full article here.
In this incredibly painful, scary, and uncertain time, many of us feel hopeless and helpless. Like Mary, all we feel we can do is fall at Jesus’ feet and weep. All we feel we can pray is: “If only you had been here!” All we feel we can ask is: “Why?”
What strikes me is how Jesus does not condemn Mary for her questioning of and accusations toward him. He does not try to “fix” things for her nor does he offer her a cliché Christian saying like “Everything happens for a reason” or “Just trust God.” He does not downplay her feelings, make her feel guilty for having and expressing them, or tell her to look on the bright side. Jesus does not even offer her an answer to her question “why”.
What Jesus does do is show up.
He shows up to and for her, he sits with her as she grieves, and he quietly listens to her. Deeply disturbed by her pain and sadness, Jesus has compassion for her. And he weeps with her.
In doing so, he is saying to her:
Your feelings are valid.
You are loved.
You are beloved.
I see you, and I hear you.
I hold your grief in my heart.
You are not alone.
This is good news. This is the message of hope that Mary needed in her time of grief. And this is the message of hope that many of us need as we experience grief during this pandemic.
In the midst of the wilderness, God shows up.
God shows up to us. God shows up for us. And God shows up through us.
So may we not only receive this message of God’s love and hope, but may we offer it to our neighbors – especially those most vulnerable and need the extra care right now.
“White Supremacy is in the White House. It runs deep and wide. And it must be shut down, dismantled, uprooted, and removed.
Many of us have been saying this for years. However, those who are spouting out and implementing white supremacist ideas and policies in the White House continue to be defended, and their policies “justified” by other national and religious leaders. Even after the emails were leaked last week, the White House is still backing Stephen Miller.
So let’s be loud and clear: it is incredibly dangerous and absolutely inexcusable for national or religious leaders to defend, downplay, or remain silent when our president and his advisors hold and enforce these white nationalist beliefs and policies. And it is incredibly dangerous and absolutely inexcusable for us to do so, as well…
This is not a partisan issue. This is not about a political party or a particular politician. This is about the evil and harmful sins of racism and white supremacy.
Because to be silent about such things is to be complicit.”
“I was filled with anger and was absolutely horrified to hear about the abusive treatment that Pastor Betty and her family received when ICE arrested and detained them! I cannot even comprehend the amount of trauma this has and is causing the family, including Pastor Betty’s 5 year-old granddaughter. She needs her grandparents. Her mother needs her parents. Pastor Betty and Carlos need their daughter and grandchild.
Families belong together.
Just because something is our “law” does not make it right and just. Just because something is enforced by our legal system does not mean it should be. (All we need to do is look at our country’s history of enforcing laws that implemented genocide, slavery, segregation, and unequal treatment of women and minorities to remember this clear fact.)
And as Christians, when we see laws that oppress and marginalize others, we must call them out and work to dismantle and reform them.”
You can read the rest of the article here to learn more about what happened and how you can support Pastor Betty and her family.
“It is Ash Wednesday: the day we are called to be reminded of our mortality by receiving ashes – the symbol of mourning and repentance – in the sign of the cross on our foreheads…
From dust we came and to dust we shall return…
And it is on this day that we begin our Lenten path: our journey through the wilderness and toward the cross… Our time to retreat from the busyness of life, to reflect on what it means to be human and children of God, and to open our ears to hear and our eyes to see the ways in which God is present in our lives and around us.
It is our time to recognize that life is short, and therefore to reevaluate how our own lives have and can have meaning in this world…
Let us be intentional this Lent. Let us return again and again and again to our God with all our hearts. And as we do so, let us equip our youth to do the same and walk alongside them in this journey.
1. How do you feel called to return to God with all your heart during this season of Lent?
2. What are some of the things you are giving up and/or taking on this Lent?
3. How are you equipping your youth to make extra space during this season of Lent to return to God and walking alongside them in this journey?”
I have honestly been very nervous about writing and posting this. However, I believe it’s incredibly important… Below is an excerpt. You can click the link to read the rest of the article: “The Pastoral Is Political: Let’s Talk About Bisexuality” on RevGalBlogPals here.
“Bisexuality is incredibly misunderstood, even in some of the most LGBTQIA+ affirming churches and communities. And while bisexuality is becoming more accepted within society, biphobia and bi erasure are still alive and well…
I keep going back to the question I have often received when coming out: “Why does it matter?”
… It matters because it is a part of who I am. When I denied this part of me or kept it silent, I carried a lot of shame and withheld a big part of who I am from God, others, and myself. Yet, I was created in God’s image, I am beautifully and wonderfully made in all of my bi-ness, and God loves me just the way I am. And nothing and no one can take that away from me: not even another person’s disapproval, discomfort, or lack of understanding.
It matters because I do exist. And I should be free to feel proud of and celebrate the person God created me to be, rather than be made to feel so ashamed about who I am that I must keep it a secret.
It matters because there are many others who are not out due to their fear that nobody would understand or accept them. I want them to know that they are celebrated for who they are and that they are not alone.”
Today I’m writing over at Bold Cafe: Women of the ELCA.
“This first Christmas was not a magical holiday homecoming story full of family turkey dinners, carol singing and football games. It did not involve decorating trees, baking cookies and opening wrapped gifts.
Rather, the first Christmas is a refugee story.
And it tells of a young, poor, homeless asylum seeking couple who fearfully flee their country and become residents in a foreign land in order to save their child’s life.
And yet, this story is also a story of hope. It is in the midst of this violent and fearful event when God shows up in the flesh: not as a king who has worldly power, and not as one who is distant and does not understand the plight of the marginalized. Rather, God shows up as one of the marginalized. God shows up in the flesh in a dirty stable, as a vulnerable baby, to a terrified young homeless couple on the margins of society.”
In other words: wake up and stay woke. And when you see the suffering and injustice of this world, look for the ways God is calling you to proclaim justice and peace and to offer God’s love to those in need. And then rise up and act.
This can be daunting when our news feed constantly updates us on one horrific tragedy after another. The world’s needs just seem too great.
Yet, Jesus does not end here.
‘Hold onto the hope of my return,’ he says, ‘so that your hearts are not weighed down with worries of this life.’ Raise your heads so that you might also see signs of the Kingdom of God that are already present and sprouting up like leaves on a fig tree. Look for signs that God is with us now and that the reign of God is near.
You see, it is necessary for us to find hope as we look for the signs of how God’s Kingdom is already present in this world. No, we must not ignore or downplay the injustice and suffering around us. However, in times such as these, we will not be able to rise up if we only focus our eyes on what is terrible.
So this Advent, may we slow down and choose to be alert.
“So let’s talk about that Bible verse that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions quoted to justify the separation of families at the border…
Many Christians throughout history and across the world actually uphold the theological belief that Jesus is Lord. In Ancient Palestine, this notion of Christ’s Lordship was a radical and political statement. To claim Jesus’ Lordship was to challenge the Roman Empire (and the oppressive “laws of the government”). To profess that Jesus is Lord was to state that Caesar was NOT Lord. In other words, Jesus is Lord over all human authority figures and governmental systems. To claim that Jesus is Lord was basically saying: “I will submit to Jesus and not to any human authority or governmental system that does not uphold Jesus’ law.”
And as Paul urged his readers in Romans 13 (just a few verses after the ones Sessions quoted): “Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet’; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”
… Separating children from their families is NOT “very biblical.” (Actually, it’s not biblical at all). Rather, it is downright cruel and pure evil!
… Jesus must be weeping as he watches our national leaders and other Christians continue to use the Bible to justify such cruelty and hate!”
Today is Ascension Day. Ever wonder what it is all about and what it means for us today?
We can learn a lot from my youth!
Check out some thoughts on the Ascension from many of my wise 6th-12th graders from over the years in my post at Conversations on the Fringe:
As Steve (who was a 7th grader when he preached) explains in his sermon: “[Jesus] calls his disciples to be his witnesses, not just witnesses, but witnesses to the ends of the earth. Now, what do you really think it means to be a witness? These disciples had seen some pretty amazing things and I think Jesus wanted these disciples to tell people what they had seen… So how [does this] form us in our lives today? To me, the end’s of the earth is at our Care for Real food pantry, which is only a few blocks away from here, where we are witnesses of God’s love when we help all of these hungry people get food and feel loved.”
As Ngbarezere (who was a freshman when he preached) proclaims: “Jesus said ‘And you will be my witnesses…’ How are we witnesses? With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be Jesus’ witnesses to all people – to follow in Jesus’ footsteps of loving the oppressed and standing up for justice and equality.”
And as Luz (who was a sophomore when she preached) shares: “I know at one point I was confused like the disciples, about how Jesus could just leave us, but honestly, he never did because he’s in you, and you and even you. Our Christ is everywhere.”
– You can read the rest here on my guest post at Conversations on the Fringe.