Well, what a week it has been!
I admit that the wedding has done a lot to lift my spirits, or at least my sense that the budding of flowers in Tallahassee is an outward and visible sign of the new life being breathed into existence in Florida, a state that has dealt cruelly with its LGBTQI population. But just as often happens in the springtime here, there is still a cold snap, a chill that wilts young flowers and is another reminder: with the beauty comes an ugly under belly which will show itself, too.
The state legislature has returned to the Capital City, and has begun the attacks again on our queer community. They can’t stop legalized marriage from happening, but they can make life miserable for transgender people by forcing them to produce a driver’s license in order to pee or use a public changing room. To our north, the state senate in Georgia overwhelmingly passed a bill to give cover for people to refuse services to LGBTQI people based upon their prejudice. It’s being couched in “religious liberty” language, but it is simply a license to discriminate. Such measures are cropping up across the country in a fearful reaction to the advancement of marriage equality.
Here’s the thing: if the senators from Georgia had opened the email from my Episcopal Church in Thomasville, they would have seen this photo.
I did not ask my church to do this. The St. Thomas community did this on their own without prompting. That’s true religious liberty in my opinion!
Frankly, I am wearing thin on listening to people who say they are people of faith acting out of their places of fear. In that way, I have found the past week’s daily office… both the critique of Israel from Jeremiah and the cries of the psalmist…to have been enormously helpful in framing my view of the situations happening in many a state legislature. Jeremiah is at his wits end with how far afield his people have gone from God, and how God will respond to this people who have lost their way. The psalmist this week was reminding me not to lose hope that God is near to those who cry out in a loud voice:
“Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,from the clutches of the evildoer and the oppressor…
You have showed me great troubles and adversities,
and bring me up again from the deep places of the earth” (Ps.71:4;20)
I’ll say it again: if a faith community in a small south Georgia city can celebrate my marriage with the same love that they do for my straight brothers and sisters, then the clutches of the oppressor will not hold us down forever. If their trust in God has led them to this place, then it is conceivable that others can get there also. And so I pray the collect for the Third Sunday in Lent:
Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.