Do not forgive me – a prayer from your gay children

40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. The #1 reason they're on the street is family rejection.

40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ. The #1 reason they’re on the street is family rejection.

Sometimes it’s those short prayers that – when you hear them from others – bring you hardest to your knees.

 

Why are we here, this day, this minute? Why are we called to do the things that we are supposed to do, yet never quite get around to doing? What words can we say back to admit our human failings and find our way to the correct path?


 

Hey you, God:

Don’t forgive me for being gay, Lord,
just love me for who and for what I am.

I already know that you do,
but some of your followers
still see fit to hate me.

Love,
Your child.

gay days at disney + mr and mr + married gay men gay youth with long hair and t-shirts - kissing in the woods gay youth smiling and hugging gay youth holding fingers chanukah gay youth - he is mine - I am his gay teens kiss while their friends freak out and scream gay teens being hanged in Iran gay teen - suicide was an option many times gay men on a rocky mountain trail - kissing gay men + holding hands in the ocean + watching fireworksgay youth kiss in the bathroom greyscale

Keep the faith!
– Amen


 

 

 

When Well-Intended People Do Evil on Your Behalf

For the shrinking number of people left who are still mainline Western Christian, let’s face it: Christians have become embarrassing for their many public faux pas, have given “religion” a bad name, and are causing a continuing shrinkage of the entire church.

Some of the things these people are doing/have done is unapologetically evil.
What are we to do when we are tired of looking away from their 15 minutes of ill fame? What can we do when our collective voices grow tired from constantly screaming, “Wait! I’m not like that,” and in this day-and-age, fewer people believe what you are saying? Because of what they see. Because of what others have done in the name of their crazy religion that just so happens to carry the same name as mine.
Yes – crazy.
How do I respond to being part of that awful, hurtful group, even if what they do and say goes against every good part of my being?
**
This week a friend sent me a copy of Enriching Our Worship” – a new (-ish, it was authorized in 1997) version of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (BOCP.) The last language update to the book was proposed in 1979 and ratified in 1981, adding the major services of the church in alternate, contemporary language in addition to the traditional language (thee, thou,thine, etc.)
The previous edition to that was 1928. That book is a challenge to read with its ornate liturgical language, and tough to follow if you’re not immersed in that book.
It is no longer used in the Episcopal church.
This newest version continues the evolution of liturgical language and makes the rites more accessible to a younger, more urban church. Yes, old people will get mad because it’s “not the way it used to be,” they will call it sinful and apostate. There could be another schism in the church just as with the 1981 book.
We should not care about all that mess. 
We should look toward our future, since our past (*according to the rites) are forgiven and gone.
The new-speak version of the confession and absolution stopped me cold in my tracks. I had that forehead smack, jowl shaking, “I should’a had a V8″ moment as I read it. The wording is still very similar to the old stuff shown here:
{…} We have not loved you with our whole heart;
We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
I like that middle line in there. It speaks directly to the teachings of Christ about what is important in our lives.That one line, in a nutshell is what we are supposed to do (as Christians) and it is the line in which we apologize for not doing it. We ask pardon for that terrible omission.
This is the new version, just a very subtle change in wording, but life-changing in my thoughts about all these embarrassing, nasty people some call Christians, along with a knowing smirk:
God of all mercy,
we confess that we have sinned against you,
opposing your will in our lives.
We have denied your goodness in each other,
in ourselves, and in the world you have created.
We repent of the evil that enslaves us,
the evil we have done,
and the evil done on our behalf.
Forgive, restore, and strengthen us
through our Savior Jesus Christ,
that we may abide in your love
and serve only your will. Amen.
 

I’ve highlighted the same section in context of the entire prayer above. 

For the first time in many years, I had that forehead smack about these loony people who proclaim to be in the same club as me. Guess what: bad, embarrassing, foolish, stupid, or evil: they are indeed still Christians. And just as much as it is my responsibility to pray in the confession for me and my sins, I apologize for them and theirs.

 
Why?
Because as the prayer says: they have done evil on our behalf.
 
This is where we stop throwing our own righteous aspersions about these nut jobs. Yes, we have a civic obligation to shut down any of their ridiculous language and actions that hurt other people,  their work that tries to change laws of the land to their own beliefs. And we have a Biblical direction to act in a way that points out their wrongdoings (Matthew 18:15
 
We are obliged to act in a way, stand up in a way, and continue in a way that shows everyone (including ourselves) what Christianity is all about.
 
And the first step in that direction?
 
We must first do our own self-forgiving. We must ask forgiveness for our own wrongs, and we must ask for forgiveness for theirs, done in the name of that common thread that I share with them.
I have to do that, like it or not.
 
Prayer is never an easy thing. I’ve called it a difficult sport. It’s tough and it will make you (spiritually) sweat. Praying for our enemies is one of those big hurdles that many folks have difficulty with. And now there is this one: apologizing and asking forgiveness for folks who – foolishly or intentionally – do evil, in Christ’s name, while including us as Christians in their roster. 
 
RuPaul says, “How in the Hell are you going to love somebody else if you can’t love yourself?” The same, it seems, goes for forgiveness. 
 
Keep the faith!
 – Amen
 
If you would like to download a free copy of the book Enriching Our Worship (Adobe PDF format), please click on the book’s name here. 
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Lookin’ For Love – How The Church Will Survive Lame-brained politics, part 1

beliefs do not make you a better personWestern Christian churches in general have become too political. That is a good place to start. Some of them (not naming names or denominations here) have turned the sacred table of welcome into their own bully pulpit. They speak things to their congregants that go against all the positive teachings of any legitimate sacred text. And the sad part is that these fools tend to speak the loudest, and get the most attention in the media.

 

If you’re a real Christian, it’s embarrassing.

People who are not religious – and some who are flamingly not religious – point to these vapid talking heads and say “See! There! I told you!” about how a (Christian) spiritual belief is some sort of fantastic illusion, filled with fairy tales and hate and us vs. them. I will not argue the point: if spiritual folks don’t believe like I do then hooray for them. I will still stand for the things I believe in, and continue to act (I hope) as a nice person expressing love toward others. I do this in my own practice as my example – and my expectation – of a heavenly kingdom all around us.

And here I stop going into theological detail; this is not a debate.

What about the painful and embarrassing political stuff that gives “good, decent, church-going people” a bad rap? What to do? The answer is very simple:

The church will go on.

It might not look what “the church” that we visualize now. Christian community began in the catacombs and meeting in secret in folks’ houses. It’s had to go underground to exist in spite of ponderous political regimes. It’s been changed around and burnt out and bombed, and yet it somehow continues.

The same now.

The Church, as serious practicing folks of Western Christian religion know it, will outlive the sputum of hatred coming from some – but not all – pulpits today. Hate can only take you so far: like a fire, once the hatred eliminates everything that’s around it, there’s simply nothing left to hate, and the fire burns itself out.

Love goes on forever because it is a giving-out, and not a taking-away.

Side note: I’m not a huge fan of the Southern Baptists because of some of their beliefs particularly around not being a fully-welcoming church who will take in any soul off the street, allow them in, and feed them the refreshment of scripture.

(My apologies here to the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists who are the bright-shining exception.)

My mother sent me this video as an example of how good a group of people can be without preaching and proselytizing. A story of about how a group of so-called Christians can stand-up, show-up, and show their beliefs at work in the help of others. The “ministry” here is in the doing, and not in the preaching and arguing.

The North Carolina Baptist Men – wheels on the ground:

This is the face of a faith that will long outlast the political bullies.
On the other side of the country, in the Episcopal diocese of Los Angeles a volunteer group across many churches in the area use this easy to formulate project that is not based on going out and “saving the heathen.” Instead it is a means to get up, show up, and display their beliefs (and faith) through action. Laundry Love happens in many locations around the country, organized by many different groups. You won’t see any preaching or converting. You will see “what needs to get done here and now?” action.

Showing some Love in Huntington Beach, CA

These two examples are what the real Christians out there want to see: our faith (and personal beliefs) in action in our communities, all for the benefit of others. Any group that wishes to use the term Christian can not put down down and ridicule and exclude, while at the same time feel as if they are “building up the kingdom of Heaven.” 

They’re tearing it down.

The real Christians simply love. There’s many different flavors and variations of that, but the point of it all is to pay forward that greatest of all love to others.

Keep the faith!
– Amen