Experiencing God in others
This summer I had a conversation with someone at CGS who has a family member that identifies as gender non-binary. We had a great conversation about how confusing all the language around gender and sexual orientation can be. There are so many words that are new to us and people are so much more diverse than we’ve been accustomed to knowing before! We also talked about how hard it is to change our idea of who someone is when they have the revelation of their own identity.
In her book One Lost Coin Reverend Emmy Kegler talks about the parables of the lost coin, the Good Shepherd, and the prodigal son. She talks about these parables and asks us to consider our queer siblings as the lost coin, the wandering sheep, or the prodigal son – lost, forgotten, or alienated by those of us in the church who have not seen these different people for who they authentically are, or known their intrinsic value, or been able to accept their non-normative ways. But she also says:
“The trouble with this metaphor is that God is the shepherd and the woman, and if God was careless with sheep and coin that would mean God was careless with us. Metaphors, in Scripture and elsewhere, do not encompass the whole of reality. God has never been careless with us, but those who claim to speak for God have. We experience God through our experiences of others. We experience God through the Scripture handed down to us over centuries, translated and retranslated, edited and sweated over. We experience God through how others use those same Scriptures, supporting both slavery and abolition, egalitarianism and complementarianism. We experience God through compassionately curated events, from regular Sunday worship to Wednesday-night Bible studies to weekend retreats, and all the experiences of God that our leaders have had, create filters for our own experiences.”
I know it’s hard to learn a whole alphabet of letters that name the different ways people are sexually oriented. I know it’s awkward to begin asking people what their pronouns are instead of assuming that you can know if someone is “he” or “she” or “they” just by looking at them. We do these things because our language and the way that we speak to one another we create filters for the experience of God.
How will trans people know that God loves them if we don’t say so? How will people who identify as bisexual know that they have value in God’s eyes if we won’t even say “bisexual” out loud?
I am extremely excited and proud to say that with the leadership of some of the folks at CGS, we are creating a coalition of faith communities for Pride this year. Together, we won’t promote any one of our congregations over the others, but we’ll amplify the voice that says “You are not lost.”
We don’t have to be at a booth during Pride to do this. We can show people that God values them by showing that we value them – even if their identity is new to us or unfamiliar. Even if we might stumble while we learn, the act of asking, learning, and trying shows others that we (and God) value them just as they are.
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Christ the Good Shepherd
Various editorials, articles, and other items of interest.