Something big is happening at my church this weekend.
The Pride & Joy Festival comes to central New Jersey on Friday and Saturday; it’s two days of music, fabulous worship, and affirmations of the love and relationship between LGBTQ people and God.
This is a big step for my church, and The Episcopal Church in New Jersey as a whole. Since becoming an Episcopalian, I’ve met hundreds of LGBTQ people in churches around the country, and my heart burst with love last summer when. on the tails of coast-to-coast same sex marriage legality, The Episcopal Church voted to adopt same-sex marriage rites.
And yet. And yet it’s not enough for me and others. We’re often as a community to quiet about our gay brothers and sisters in our midst. And acknowledgement and open embrace is necessary after decades and centuries of otherness at best and violent transgressions at worse. In my diocese, the only LGBTQ events to garner widespread attention over the last few years are commemorations of World AIDS Day. And while that is a part of our history, we are more than that.
I’ve attended liturgical events dedicated to deprogramming the parts of Leviticus and Paul and Romans that declare us sinful and abomination; I guess that’s cool, but I’m past that. I think a lot of us are past that. I sin constantly, in my temper, in the condition in which I keep my bathroom, in the over-consumption of ice cream, in what I ignore or over-accentuate every day. The barometer of who I am attracted to and how my heart works in that direction do not feel like sin. That part of me is not part of sin. I refuse to believe that and don’t need it deprogrammed.
So, then–this weekend, instead of deprogramming or analyzing the scripture that might condemn us, we look at passages that celebrate differences, that explode with weirdness, that say “if you can’t fit in–don’t. It’s okay. It’s welcome. God needs that.”
I’m thrilled. If you’re around, please join us; it’s free, and there’s sung worship and a cabaret on Friday (my performance is a surprise…) and worship, an “ask us anything” panel of clergy on Saturday, family-friendly games, and a cupcake social. We’ve adopted the hashtag #BigGayChurch –perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek, but also out of truth. We’re one church. Some of us here are queer, and we’re not going away, and we have value to offer in being accepted and embraced into the fold and rites of the church as a whole.
“There is no longer
Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and
female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3.28)