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30 June 2016

Orlando Musings

Orlando Musings.

I am a Lutheran pastor, and a shrink and a musician and a teacher ... but WAY before that I am a child of God, beautifully created as a gay man.

When I became a  hospital chaplain in Brooklyn many years ago, my out-and-loud-and-proud baby sister was angry with me because I was connected with what she had experienced all her life as wounding and shaming and excluding: Church.  And for years I kept Church at arm's length because I too wasn't sure I could trust it.

But then one day at the funeral of one of my patients who had died of AIDS, Jesus slipped into the shoes of a Puerto Rican man and called me to speak and to heal.  It was then that I began to believe that there is space in God for a gay man ... and as I began the process to become ordained I said, "and if there is no space for me in Church, then Jesus will make space, for he just called me."

I've been ordained twenty-six years, and Jesus has indeed made space for me time and again, and I have tried to make space for my LGBT sisters and brothers.

I wasn't able to create space for my baby sister (she committed suicide during my early NYC years), but at least I was able to make space in my family for an ongoing conversation not just about her, but about what it means to be gay in our "churchy" sort of family.

-So, to my LGBT sisters and brothers who shake their head and say I betrayed them by being part of Church, I say, "I have known what you mean since my baby sister got mad with me. Church has a hard time with us, but Jesus always will make space for us."

-And to those who say, "Can't I just say I love you all without agreeing with your lifestyle?", I say, "No, because when you scratch underneath that sweet 'Christian' love of yours, there's no love, only bigotry.  Being gay is not my lifestyle, but my biology. I am a gift from God to you just the way I am."

In one of many dream encounters with my baby sister (some of you read others), she said, "Don't ever forget it, big brother: there is no you and I any more, there's just one family. We are all one."

In the wake of the hate crime in Orlando that wiped out almost fifty beautiful people who celebrated their lives in the Pulse Nightclub, a space that was home and sanctuary to them where no one questioned their "lifestyle", it is time for repentance, especially in Church.

When Church wounded and shamed and excluded us LGBT people, it was usually in keeping with the suspicions and prejudices of the surrounding culture. (As one of my teachers used to say, It's  always cheaper to stay unconscious!)

But if then it is true that Church should be counter-cultural, now is the time to repent and truly live what my baby sister said: "There's just one family. We are all one".

When we preachers start telling our churches that there is no "other", eventually they will only see sisters and brothers.  Space for love and harmony will open up everywhere.

It won't be easy, but it will be right.

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