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A new way to spiritual growth with devotionals by Susan E. Gilmore
When the God of the Universe Loves
Sunday, October 1, 2017
We’ve seen God’s attributes of creator, designer and master planner and even at mere glimpses we can see that there is truly no one that could ever compare to his talents. But if this skill set wasn’t enough, these pale in comparison to his greatest asset, love. Nothing could have driven the God of the universe to take on human form other than love. This is not just out of the box thinking, this is all out wild passionate give everything you’ve got love. Laying aside a cosmos of power and glory he willingly allowed himself to become bound by the unclean smallness of humanity. A God who loved enough to become one of his creations….you can’t make this stuff up.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should have eternal life. John 3:16
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13
It is January 21st, 2017, the day after the election of Donald J. Trump as our 45th president; it is the day of the Women’s March on Washington. I wanted to go and was all set to get up before dawn to make my way to the capital when I heard there would also be a March in Philadelphia. Call me lazy; call me not as dedicated to the cause as I should be, but to be able to be to my destination within an hour and home before midnight seemed a task equal to my commitment.
What was the draw? What made it so important for a Christian never-before protestor to join thousands of others in what seemed like an endless sea of humanity? It was simple, I needed to do something.
On the night of the election I had watched in disbelief as the map of the 50 states glowed red, going to bed uncertain about the America I thought I knew. It was a shock to the system, yet I tried to be open minded asking myself; “What had I missed about the president elect that others had seen?” And yet as each day passed I became more convinced that some kind of magical power had been unleashed across our nation, a magical power that brought blindness to what seemed blatant.
When the election statistics began to unfold the real truth was too much for me to take in. If the data was correct eighty four percent of evangelicals voted for Mr. Trump. How could this be? The crassness had been overlooked. The immorality was disregarded. The lack of public service was unnoticed. These very truths made me question; who was I sitting next to in the pew on Sunday morning? These were my people, yet they did not value what I valued. I heard a woman on the radio who described herself as missionary speak of Trump as the person who “would return our country to its Christian roots.” I had no further explanation than to believe that the unseen magical power was for evil and not for good.
So, this morning I got up and took the train to center city Philadelphia. The packed cars were full of woman and men that were euphoric with the idea that their voices still mattered, that their bodies that were too many to count, would make a thoughtful statement to the newly formed government. I sat on the train, not knowing what my experience would be, but just glad I could be a part, one person one more person that was saying by their presence that something had gone wrong.
Pretty soon I was in a great crowd surrounded by signs and placards, some humorous, some serious, all with a message. I did my best to read each one, to see what the priority of the marchers was. Many focused on woman’s reproductive rights; many drew attention to the objectification of woman, while others were thoughtful quotes that called woman and men to action. As I walked amidst the masses I tried to think what my sign would say. Why was I there? What was I crying out against? If I could put my heart cry into words what would it say? Sure I wanted what many around me wanted, but none of their signs said what I was really thinking. The reality was, I wanted something back that I had lost in the last two months.
My sign would have said, “Christians for Sanity.”
I worshiped in an Evangelical church this morning. Like hundreds of these types of churches across the nation I stood in the dark singing to the words that came up on the screen. The music rose from the drums, keyboard and guitars at decibels that enveloped the congregation and ushered each of us to the throne of the almighty. I stood with tears running down my face, belting out the words to; King of My Heart, by John Mark Mcmillan and Sarah Mcmillan. “May the king of my heart be the wind inside my sails, the anchor in the waves, Yes, He is my song. “You are good, good, ohhh. “
This is a typical Sunday morning in the kind of church that I attend, but there is nothing standard about my attendance. Today I picked a church just large enough that I could go in anonymity. I slip in just before it starts and go directly to the door and out into the parking lot at the end of the final song. I do not dare to stop at the booths that line the hallway asking for new members to “life groups,” or new volunteers for outreach, if I did someone might find my weakness. If I did someone might get to know who I really am. I have picked this church because I know, at least for a few weeks I will not be asked my name or noticed as a new attender. In this church I can meet my God as the dark sanctuary welcomes me. The others around me don’t know my story I am just one of the many that lifts their hands to the wonderful savior of the world. He is good, good, ohh.
But what if I weren’t a stranger? What if they knew my story? From my experience this would be the beginning of the end, I am not like the rest. A lesbian by birth and a child of God by second birth, I believe in the God of the Bible. I believe He loves me and died for me just like everyone else in the dark room where I stood in this morning. But if they knew I would not be seen by the others as fully accepted. But this does not deter me. “You are good, good, ohh.”
“May the king of my heart, be the fire inside my veins, oh He is my song.” There is so much misunderstanding, so much bigotry there are so many reasons for those who have been mistreated to reach toward bitterness. But, “you are good, good, ohh.”
The Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 8:3-39 speak truth to all those who are loved of God. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution? …… No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither angels nor demons, neither height nor depth, nor other Christians, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What will matter at the end of my life? Will it be the opinions of others or the thoughts of my heavenly father? “May the king of my heart be the shadow where I hide, the echo of my days, oh He is my song. You are good, good, ohh.”
As the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage last week the elation born from freedom and justice found me and rang out true and strong in my heart and mind. Even though I was in an important meeting at work my body would not let me hold back the tears that crept into my eyes and the smile that plastered itself on my face. It was real, it was a pinch myself moment, this really happened.
But as the joy of victory came so did the questions. Polarizing? Yes, the decision was in favor but even the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 when they cast their votes holding firm to their interpretation of our national constitution. National polls also seem to indicate a similar percentage for the U.S. population, it is in favor but the margins are far from overwhelming.
Would this wake the sleeping giant? I wondered would there be backlash from the Christian population? Over the last few years while the Gay Rights movement was growing, the conservative Christian church has appeared apathetic to the subject. Whether it was out of apathy or a sense of unchallengeable superiority the Church has remained relatively silent. It has continued on the same path it has held for over a hundred years, an unspoken reality, homosexuality is sin, period. There was no need to discuss, it was understood by all who preached and all who attended.
The sleeping giant is stirring, but is it too late? From the inside of a church community I am observing a strange reality. A quiet questioning, individuals silently slowly wondering if what they have been taught is what they really believe. If asked what would they say? Would they tow the same line or would they be bold enough to say, “I am not sure?” Pastors and priests have tremendous sway on what a church family believes, but on the subject of homosexuality they may be losing ground.
Will the giant put its foot down? The answer is yes. While its congregants may be questioning their personal beliefs, church councils across the country and around the world filed their formal position statements regarding last week’s decision. The denominations in opposition expect their pastors and priests to remind and inform their flocks of the facts and the dangers of falling prey to society’s pull.
How will the Church make sure that what they believe is sin, is still called sin? The conservative Christian church is caught in a conundrum. How can they stand true to their conviction that homosexuality is sin and at the same time not appear unloving to the gay community? But the push is on, the leaders must get the word out before it is too late. Conferences with thousands of pastors have been held. Whole sermon series are being preached. There is a new Christian movie teaching Christians how to love while staying strong in their doctrine. The words gay and homosexuality are being said out loud once more from the pulpits.
The giant is rising but will the townsfolk rebel? Only time will tell.
There is a network in our country and around the world that is almost doubling in size each year. This is not a social media network, there are no pictures of kittens riding bicycles or what food anyone had for dinner. This is not a network of business professionals being linked together for purposes of greater sales. This isn’t even a network of people saying meaningful things in short cryptic sentences. Instead, this network is something far more lasting, its goal is to change lives, to be a place of safety, and most importantly to remind them that God is love. This powerful spiritual force is the Gay Christian Network.
I had the privilege of attending my second GCN Conference last month. After what I had experienced the year before, I couldn’t wait to get there. My first conference was an eye opening, confirming taste of nirvana. To be in a room with over seven hundred Gay Christians, to share our pain, to hear our stories, to melt into the joy at the time we had together made my heart sing and my spirit rejoice. None of us were alone anymore. We stood together shoulder to shoulder singing psalms of praise at the top of our lungs believing that we too were beloved ones of the King of King’s. We proclaimed, we are Gay and we are Christian.
This year almost 1400 strong we met in Portland. The speakers were thought provoking, funny and spiritually uplifting. They spoke of the continued shunning and ostracism, throughout the Christian church but they also spoke of hope and the signs of change that are coming. They encouraged us to be light and salt in our home churches. It was reality tempered with hope.
But with all the planning, the workshops the worship no one could have prepared us for the extra bonus we experienced when the Westboro Baptist picketers arrived. You might know them from your local news. “God Hates Fags” is their motto and hatred is their weapon
of choice. We had a forewarning of their visit. Some of the convention attenders were terrified having come from abusive backgrounds regarding their sexuality, all, were apprehensive. But we were also told that some of the local churches would be there to love support and protect.
When the morning arrived Westboro was there with their signs telling us of the fires of hell that were to come. They were there with their boom boxes that spewed hateful words through angry songs. But the churches did not let us down. They buffered us with their bodies, they smiled, they said kind words and they loved.
The newspaper article that appeared the next day about the protest was titled, “Christians Protecting Christians from Christians” How sad, how wonderful. We had seen hate, we had been shown love, we had been called what we have always longed to be called, “Christians.” May the church someday know we exist, may we gain full acceptance, but until that day I will still call myself what God calls me, “Beloved.”
I really must change my homepage at work. Those scrolling news articles are too much for me to overlook. One inevitably grabs my attention and I just have to click to see more of what it is really all about.
Recently an article in the New York Times about the Catholic Synod caught my attention. Pope Francis in his usual fashion of shaking things up at the Vatican had really freaked some cardinals out with statements regarding divorced individuals and homosexuals. He stated that the catholic church should be more compassionate to individuals in those lifestyles. The cardinals in turn either sided with the pope or stood firm in outrage holding fast to the church doctrine that those who were divorced were committing adultery and that gays were an abomination. I continued on finishing the article and pretty much realized that nothing on either subject was going to change any time soon, but that I was glad they were at least broaching the subject. Since I read the article on line there was a section beneath for comments. Yes, I am still at work, but I could not help myself from reading on. The comments shook down to four types. People who were pontificating, while really having no clue what they were saying. People that did seem to know what they were talking about. People that were trying to learn something and people who were down right nasty. I am not sure who has time for all this commenting but someone was saying something so horrendous to another human being that I could not keep my mouth shut. I sure hope my company’s headquarters were not playing big brother at that moment, I just couldn’t hold myself back. I asked a question to those four categories of people. My question was, Why is there so much mud slinging about this topic? I went on to say that I was a Gay Christian and I just really didn’t understand why this was such a fierce topic.
The people that had been pontificating ceased their activity. The people that seemed to know what they were talking about did not respond. But the nasty seemed to jump in before I could had even pushed enter on the key board. While I sat at my desk at work, I was told I would be going to hell, Gay Christian! LOL and on and on. I could not believe my eyes. It didn’t offend me it only made me realize the extent of how polarizing this topic can be. The next comment rose to the occasion and beat down the nasty with a few more ugly words meant written to make me feel better.
As the forever optimist, I can only smile and say, it is all coming to a head. The volcano is erupting. I pray for the day that everyone is talking about whether Gays have a place in the kingdom of God because I know that some day the answer will be, yes.