Sunday, April 16, 2017

My Faith, My Family, My Easter

My faith, whatever it goes through throughout the year, is strongest at Easter.

I am not supposed to be a Christian.

By loving me, God is acting in defiance of Christian doctrine.

Being gay, excludes me from the family of God, though any family that excludes and banishes its children us unworthy of the word. I am routinely questioned about my faith from those who call themselves Christian and those who damn me for calling myself one. "You can't be Christian, you're gay!" "Why would you call yourself a Christian, you're gay." These questions asked as if something as deep as my faith could be easily taken off or turned down.

Gay people and disabled people, both, have legitimate concerns with the church, with the history of demonization, with seeing difference as see, and with looking at the world through the eyes of fear. I understand when activists ask how I could believe, how I could associate, how I could be so public about a faith that has done so much damage.

I have been affected by the rejection of other Christians. I have been affected by the words of preachers who would heap down on us death and calamity. I have been affected by the stubborn idea that disability is sin made flesh. Of course I have.

There are times when my faith is sorely challenged.

There are times when I wish I didn't believe.

But, then, there's the fact, that I do.

My faith though is in the person of God, not the creation of humans. It is my relationship with that singular God and not the actions of those who claim God, who stake God out as territory, who put words in the mouth of God, that determine what happens in my heart.

It is at Easter that I most powerfully reconnect with how I understand who God is, what the miracle, through Jesus was, and why I wish to renew afresh my commitment to what I believe. For me, the gore of Good Friday, is not where the power of the story lie. Right now, all over the world, bodies are being broken, lives are being taken, people are being dehumanized. 

LGBT people are being thrown from rooftops, gathered up and tortured in concentration camps, slandered and scapegoated in churches across the world. And still, we love.

Disabled people are locked away in institutions, are murdered to the applause of the media, are centred out as being in need of prayer and healing. It is clear that there is a stairway to heaven and that there is no ramp at the back door. And still, we live.

The list is endless.

Religion and difference.

Religion and gender.

Religion and race.

Religion and hate.

And still, we rise.

That's the story of Easter isn't it. That in a world where crucifixion is possible, where the crowd will cheer pain, where the good-hearted stay silent in the face of the persecution of others, Jesus rose.

Why would he want to?

Why would he still see worth in humanity?

Those are the questions I still can't answer. But in the act of defiantly loving, I am captured, I am moved and with which I wish to identify.

It's Easter.

I will go to church.

But I don't go to meet God.

Because we've already met.

I go to defiantly claim what's mine, and continue the radical act of believing that, no matter what anyone says, I am a member of this family. 


Unknown said...

Spirituality is how I experience God - the God of my understanding, as they say in 12 step programs.
Religion is how groups of humans explain God - so religion is inherently imperfect and incomplete.
One large ocean surrounds our planet, fed by countless rivers that flow into it.The rivers are the religions.
That's how I make sense of it.

My lived experience is that the ways that I was abused and the ways that the religion I grew up in are entwined made it very hard for me to participate in liturgy or daily practices of religion..or to fully believe the idea that I am loved by God.

So, for now, I believe but do not belong to a particular community or religion, do not have a daily practice. Nevertheless, I persist in believing that God is what we call the power of love and light and goodness and hope in the world, and that God is present always.
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to respond to your writing, Dave....having the chance to read/respond to your experience reminds me that I am loved, by God.
blessings to you and your family on Easter.

ABEhrhardt said...

You're one of the most committed followers of Jesus Christ I know.

Happy Easter. He is risen!

God made you exactly as you are, to serve Him and to love Him.

Kathy said...

There are many Christian churches that welcome all people. As a member of the US Episcopal church, we not only welcome all people, but our priests are made up of all people. It is a very inclusive and loving church.