Holy God, no one is excluded from your love; and your truth transforms the minds of all who seek you: As your servant Philip was led to embrace the fullness of your salvation and to bring the stranger to Baptism, so give us all the grace to be heralds of the Gospel, proclaiming your love in Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.--Collect for Philip the Deacon
The account of Philip in Acts 8 has him running after the chariot where he finds the eunuch, definitely an "other", reading from the prophet Isaiah. To Philip's delight and amazement, the eunuch engages him in discussion about the text, opening the deacon to the chance to share the Gospel with this "other." As they see a body of water, the eunuch turns to Philip and asks, "What is it to prevent me from being baptized?"
The answer: nothing. He was baptized and he sang praises to God as Philip went on his way.
The question the eunuch asks is one that many of the LGBT community still are asking. What is it to prevent me from also becoming part of the Body of Christ? What is it to prevent me from being invited into this kingdom of God? What is it to prevent me from living into eternal life?
The answer: nothing.
Likewise, it is becoming increasingly evident that many of the mainline denominations of Christianity are following the lead of Philip. The Spirit is moving them, guiding them, and giving them the green light to engage LGBT people and realize that the LGBT community has many members who are seeking to know God, be baptized into Christ and to serve in the church. This past weekend, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A made Scott Anderson, an openly-gay man, a pastor in Wisconsin. Rev. Anderson had been a minister, but was outed by some in his congregation and was forced to leave ministry in 1990. Twenty-one years later, and after much prayerful debate, the Church is in a different place. And God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year.
On this National Coming Out Day, I give thanks for the Spirit that moved Philip to run after that chariot and discover that the "other" is really just "another", one who was not only good but very good. And much love for the Ethiopian eunuch who engaged in studying the text of Isaiah and desired to learn of the expansive welcome of God. Indeed, Holy God... no one is excluded from your love. And you show that every day another person says, "I am who God has made me to be. And that is very good."