Sunday, November 20, 2011
Christ the Non-Conformist King
We are reaching the end of Pentecost and the Church calendar year culminating in what is called, "Christ the King" Sunday. It is the time when we reflect that Christ's kingship is not like any others. He never drew a sword or went into a battle. He preferred to assert his rule through being who he was and encouraging those around him to follow his example. He gets killed for this, but not even death could conquer him. And, as evidenced today by how many still revere his name, he continues to prove that he has risen, and is still beckoning us to live in the way he was teaching us: love one another, build each other up, lend a hand to someone in need. And love yourself remembering that you are loved by God first.
It is a day of great joy and celebration as we prepare for the entry of Christ into the world on December 25th. And then the journey begins in earnest as the baby grows up into the man who is the redeemer of the world.
As I reflect on the readings in the lectionary, especially the gospel lesson from Matthew 25, I considered the common theme of searching out the lost and lonely, giving wisdom to those who stay in relationship with God, and noting that those who are in right relationship with God are the ones who treat the least among their society with dignity and respect. I put those insights along side what is happening in the world today, especially with our treatment of the transgender communities and those who don't conform to gender "norms." We have a long way to go toward fully living up to the commandment to love one another as Christ loved us. Remember, Christ was a king who did not beat or kill anyone. When confronted by someone who was "other" in his First Century society, Christ the King often times behaved in a way that some of his contemporaries might not have thought was fitting of a King. If the Sadducces had had the term, they might have called him, "queer" and not because he was funny looking!
And that is one of the reasons I value Christ. For one who was a man, he had an ability and a desire to see women respected and gave them close access to him. Women were his messengers to the disciples when he rose from the dead. Mary sat at his feet learning. Countless women and men with disabilities became able through contact with Christ and are held up by the evangelists as evidence of the ministry Jesus was doing on earth. He was a man in physical appearance, but he was non-conforming. He was an outward and visible sign of a man with a very different inward and spiritual grace.
I have said to people that I believe God is transgender. In fact, God transcends all our perceptions of what gender is or should be. The construct of male-female is so limiting. I see God as having no discernible human form; hence can have a gender that is fluid and at-ease in all genders. It is this DNA that lived in the male body of Christ that I believe gave him the extraordinary ability to be with men and women fully and equally and treat them with dignity no matter their human condition. As such, I imagine Christ would not flinch upon meeting someone trans, nor would he have had a problem with the "ma'am" or "sir" pleasantries. He would have loved them and included them in his royal court of those in need of some kindness.
Today, many of us in the LGBT community are pausing to remember the violence committed against our transgender friends. Those who would commit such hateful acts as burning people to death, or beating them with fists or clubs, clearly have never met the king who said that those who fed the hungry, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, took care of the sick, and visited the prisoner were the righteous in the sight of God. That king is unambiguous about this message of love. And this king will gather the sheep left shivering for wont of shelter from a society hostile to differences.