Dear Middle Family,
I have started this note more than once. I had a chance to attend a vigil at Stonewall, where I was among the readers of the names of the victims in Orlando, and to write about this act of terror. But as I have watched the news unfold, and the stories the survivors tell about what they endured, I lost my voice, and did not know what to say. Imagine one's safe place—a sanctuary of joy—becoming that hellish nightmare. It is untenable, horrifying.
I read about our own denomination, which is not sanctuary—for me, for you, for our beloved—and I am frankly more angry than sad. I have wondered what to write about this, that does not sound as angry as I feel. So—I did not write. I did not want to add to the rhetoric of rage, though I feel it. Though I feel like the Church has not done enough, not nearly enough, to change the story, to preach love, to tell our LGBTQI siblings that we see them and, like God, we love them.
And then I think about our Middle Church community—that part inside our sanctuary and the part in our networks. And the rock in my stomach, the cry in my throat—the rock feels a little lighter, my tears fall, not just because I am sad and angry, but also because you are so beautiful.
Your consistory and I are clear—this violence and hatred against LGBTQI communities is not acceptable. Not on our watch. And so we are having conversations with the Collegiate Church folk, our colleagues, about what is next vis-à-vis the RCA. There will be a Collegiate-wide consistory vote in the coming weeks on our denomination affiliation.
We are also clear the racism, anti-Muslim, and growing anti-Semitism in our culture is not acceptable either. We have been taught by our mentor, Jesus the Christ, to love our God with everything we have, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This means radical acceptance; this means delight in the otherness of the other; this means cherishing the stranger. This means Revolutionary Love.
Come Sunday, in memory of those who died at Pulse in Orlando, and those who died one year ago in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, I will preach a sermon called "One" reflecting on Galatians 3:23-29. Read the whole chapter, if you can, before Sunday, and listen to me and Jim talk about the sermon on That'll Preach. We will light candles, and sing, and pray, and weep, and resolve ourselves to be light, to chase away hatred with our love.
I need to let you know, Middle Family, that we are working to keep you safe in these days when crazy, angry people respond to radical love with hatred, and sometimes violence. We have NOT been threatened, and we are NOT afraid. We are just being cautious.
Please help us by:
- Leaving large bags at home—a small purse or satchel is cool!
- IF you must bring a bag, allow us to inspect your bag at our building entrances. A stranger arriving behind you needs to know that you are cool with a bag screening.
- If your bag is really large, please store it where staff or security ask you to, and thanks for understanding!
After worship, I invite all Third Sunday small groups to the Sermon Talkback in the Sanctuary where there is space for our learning, healing, and dangerous prayer.
Friends, we who believe in freedom will not rest until it comes. How long will we work for it? As long as it takes. And we ain't gonna let nobody turn us 'round.
I love you very much,