One of the highlights of the week for me has been the interfaith service. The one in Tallahassee is truly INTERfaith: Jewish, Evangelical Christian, B'hai, Pagan, Quaker, Lutheran, Episcopalian, MCC, United Church of Christ, and Unitarian Universalists all gathered under the roof of Temple Israel as one call to recognizing the LGBT spirituality in all of those (and many more) traditions.
Again, I participated to make sure that the Episcopal Church was present and accounted for in this assembly. As you may recall from my post "Wanting Memories," I basically went to the mat with my clergy to be allowed to represent our parish in the service. It was a really ugly fight, from my standpoint, and one which so deeply hurt me that I couldn't bear going through that hell again. So, rather than asking any of the local Episcopal clergy to participate, I offered that I would stand in, along with with Mtr. Phoebe of the Church of the Ascension in Carrabelle, and do a portion of the service. I shared all of this with my spiritual director who, after many questions, finally took out the two-by-four and asked if she was allowed to "come play."
"Oh, you want to take part in the service?" the directee asked, stupidly. And after getting whalloped by the two-by-four, offered that I would check with the group, and that I was sure they wouldn't mind.
The service had three sections. The first was presenting and celebrating our past and standing on the shoulders of giants. The second was our present time, and seeing where there were still pockets of resistance to the recognition and respect of all people. And the third was lifting up the giants of our future.
The "Episcoposse," as I like to call us, were to start the section on the present. My charge was to lay the foundation of the section as a "call to action" or "what can people of faith do to lift up those being laid low by laws and prejudice." Many people had enjoyed what Mtr. Phoebe and I presented last year but I didn't want us to do a repeat of the same thing. I knew we needed something to engage the congregation; it is not the Episcopal liturgical way to let people sit and be passive. And so, after some thought, I proposed that we steal a page out of Morning Prayer and offer suffrages with a concluding collect. And, after some prayer and stillness, I took a first crack at what would be our offering which then my spiritual director, Mtr. Galen Mirate, spruced up and nuanced.
Finally, and again after prayerful meditation and listening to the guidance of the Divine, I wrote out my opening "homily" which preceded the suffrages and collect. Here's what we presented:
because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to the prisoners;
These words from the prophet Isaiah were the same ones that Jesus read from the scroll in the presence of many at the Temple. They are the call to action for all people of faith as we encounter our world of haves versus’ have-nots. Equal rights for some but not others. And the real dangers of LGBT people living in countries where governments, with the backing of religious authorities, enact laws that threaten our lives with imprisonment and even death.
The service concluded with the Pagans leading those who wanted to do it in a chant and spiral dance to raise the energy and send it out into the world. May that carry us forward to keep doing the courageous acts of Love that will change the hearts and minds of many more people.