God Does Not Make Mistakes

For 22 years, I thought that being gay was funny (not in a good way). People I loved squirmed when two men would kiss on the television screen. I was chided for watching the wrong show and given looks for acting in a not-so-masculine way. It was not a subject that was talked about in my family, in church, or at school. So there I sat, quietly, wondering why I was so disgusting and funny (again, not in a good way).

Then during my senior year of college, a priest proclaimed to a group of high schoolers at a conference I staffed that if they were gay it was not only okay–it was great. “God doesn’t make mistakes,” he said.

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Assimilation

You know the argument: “If they want to be one of us, they must assimilate.” Everyone must assimilate to the norm. For those making the assimilation argument, the norm is white, straight, cisgender male, and Christian. For them,

  • Spanish-speakers need to learn to speak English, and without an accent.
  • LGBTQ persons must conceal their sexuality/gender identity any way they can.
  • Women should support men in upholding the nostalgic fallacy of the “Good Old Days.”
  • And Muslims must uncover their heads and only pray at dinner and bedtime—none of this five-times-a-day business.

In other words, “the other needs to be more like me.”

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“Why Church?”

I haven’t dated since seminary, and I had forgotten that particular turn the conversation takes when I mention my line of work. “You’re a priest? How…interesting,” he says with a look of fear in his eyes as if I am about to break out the holy water and offer an exorcism.

That only happened once, and only occasionally do I swipe our baguette to lift it and my glass of Malbec above the table for the invitatory elevation.

“Check, please!”

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Swords Into Plowshares

They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

Isaiah 2:4

We still haven’t figured this one out. While almost everyone wants to live in peace, we continually find ourselves under the impression that the only way to achieve peace is by getting rid of our enemies. And so war goes on, creating more veterans with permanent physical and emotional scars. Where is their peace? And to quote a sign posted by a neighbor of mine, “What have we learned of war beyond the need to support our troops?”

“Thank you for your service,” is a welcomed greeting for some and a haunting reminder for others. Those who use the expression to gain or maintain political power often do little to provide much-needed care for veterans. And really, it’s not solely the responsibility of political leaders to care for those who have served in the military; the responsibility is all of ours.

Too many veterans commit suicide. Too many are homeless. Too many cannot afford adequate medical care. There are some great organizations, with which we can (and should) get involved, which provide care for those who have been too close to the gruesome realities of war.

Maybe we can celebrate this Veterans’ Day by reaching out to veterans we know with authenticity, care, and a sense of solemnity. We can honor their courage. We can pray for all veterans of war everywhere, even those we might call our “enemies.” We can work and pray for an end to war and violence of all kinds, that some day we might all live in peace.

A Collect For Peace

Almighty God, kindle, we pray, in every heart the true love of peace, and guide with your wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth, that in tranquility your dominion may increase until the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Funerals and the Practice of Preaching

I51LJfmohNXL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_‘ve been given the task of eulogizing at my grandmother’s funeral. I’m used to preaching funerals—I’ve done some of people I’ve known and some of people I had never met. In either case I always attempt to look through the deceased person’s life to see some way(s) in which God’s grace was manifested in them. Still, filling in the edges of the sermon or homily or eulogy (in this case) can be tricky.

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How You Can Stand With Baltimore

This originally appeared on OnFaith

Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr…they’re all inundated with posts on #BaltimoreUprising—some defending the police, others the protesters, and others questioning if what happened to Freddie Gray would have happened to them. Through the deluge of posts, what rings true inside and outside of faith communities is that no one can agree on much of anything. Continue reading “How You Can Stand With Baltimore”