Just like coffee shops and restaurants, I have some favorite sites in the blogosphere that I like to check out from time to time. One of them, Faith Afoot, by Rev. Susan Buchanan had an entry that ponders one of the biggest challenges facing anyone who is a believer in God: how do you take the desire to serve as a follower of Christ outside the safety of the walls of the church? Her discussion is coming from the place of a priest, but I think it’s an excellent question for the laity as well. And probably a bigger hurdle for the queer People of God to overcome.
I move in circles populated largely by agnostics or atheists. And for all that an atheist will profess to be above the hate-spewing vitriol of a Pat Robertson or a James Dobson, I have found many atheists to be just as bad as a Robertson or a Dobson….only difference is the message. But it’s still venomous speech. And I find it harder and harder to listen to it. The deeper I dive into my own faith, the less I’m willing to listen to someone who wants to attack me and accuse me of being delusional. So I pull away, and look for people a little less strident who might be willing to have a conversation instead of a confrontation.
I’m not out to “convert” anyone to my way of thinking. As I’ve said repeatedly on this blog, I don’t think there is any one “correct” path to God. My joy comes from knowing that people are discovering for themselves what it means to live into “the light”. As promised to Christians, this is what is meant by the promise of eternal life, and we in the Episcopal Church, are pleased to let everyone know eternal life can happen now. Today. And there is no need to have your references ready because God already knows who you are, and can’t wait to meet you wherever you want to meet up. And, if you’re an Episcopalian, He’s already got your cocktail waiting for you!
However, I welcome the person, be they friend or stranger, who is willing to hear me out on my beliefs. Someone who will listen to me speak my truth about how I find joy, strength, courage, and compassion through the knowledge that there is a God, and His love for me and everyone is never-ending. Those people don’t crop up in the LGBT-community very often. But I won’t give in to despair. And I refuse to think that I’m the nutcase for believing in God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel of Matthew from the Trinity Sunday readings, Jesus is instructing his disciples to go out and baptize people in all the nations, teaching them to obey the commandments that he had given to them…the two biggies: Love God and Love Thy Neighbor. And he closes this reading with what I call “comfort language”: I am with you always, to the end of the age. The orders he’s given his followers are ones that will (as you later find out when you read the Book of Acts) get them into a whole lot of trouble, and not end very nicely for the likes of Stephen. But Jesus (God) wants them to know that no matter what happens, good or bad, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The same applies to us who take up the challenge to live out our faith in the world in our communities populated with people who think we’re weird for believing in a God of love, peace and harmony. We may be standing alone in the room in our belief, but as we stand our ground in the face of hostility, God is there. Maybe we'll speak up, or maybe Wisdom will advise us to hold our tongues and save our message for somebody who’s more able to hear what we say.
How willing are we to take the risk to be seen? How able are we to live out that other part of Matthew’s Gospel, which is echoed in the words of the Buddha, to be a light in the world and not to hide our lamp under a bushel?