(The following was shared at an Out Front rally for equal marriage rights in the capitol rotunda in St Paul)
My oldest daughter Leah is 25.
She is passionate about working to create a world where hope is the first language of all.
I talked with her a month back about why she is resistant to having anything to do with church.
She rattled off to me some of the verbiage she has heard spoken in the name of the church. The words made me wince. Because what she rattled off were small and gnarled and hate-laced proclamations that seek to draw the circle of grace small.
I challenged her: she for sure hadn’t heard those things preached in the church where she worshipped growing up.
She waffled a bit and then she got to it. She spoke a question long on her heart. She said this: “When is the church going to step up?! When is the church going to speak out for justice? How is it that a church built upon the teachings of a man who was relentless about enfolding all into God’s vision of justice, how is it that Christians of all people are so silent and so unwilling to claim power and voice? When is the church going to step up for justice, Mom?”
Well, Leah, we are stepping up and speaking out.
The people of Jesus are joining our voice and power with people of all faiths to say that discriminating against any of God’s children based on who they love in a culture gone mad with hate – that is just plain crazy-making.
We DO believe in love, justice and equality in Minnesota and throughout God’s creation.
Love is sacred gift. Living that love fully in families with two moms or living that love in the marriage of two men or living that love in a family with a man and a woman is living sacred gift and the world is withering for want of lived love so why on earth would people of faith be silent while across this nation legislatures are perpetrating injustice through denying equal rights for same-gender loving people?
We will NOT be silent. We WILL speak for love and justice. And I say this to Leah and to all people who have longed for the church to reclaim its prophetic voice:
We are stepping up.
Last night I had a date with my daughter.
She is 22, freshly graduated from college, immersed in creating a life of meaning, working for Green Corps and as a hostess at a pub, and living in the third floor of our house.
We don’t see each other often beyond a “is there coffee in the thermos?” in the morning or a creaking of floors above me when she comes in after her old mother has retired for the night.
She is walking delight. So, having a free night for both of us and having the luxury of time together, we opted for dinner and a chick flick. We perused the movie listings and landed on the most unlikely movie ever to attend with our partners and thus, on a Friday night, we found ourselves in a throng of woman people – Rachel counted nine men in the packed house – and sat through “Dear John”. I was easily the oldest person in the place.
It was as we expected: Drivel (ok, I did cry) and surface-skimming. But of course, that wasn’t the point of going. The point was, we claimed the time and participated in the ritual of sharing food and laughter and appreciation for the wonder that is liking people called kin.
Blessed am I among women.
Yesterday I participated in an interfaith forum. There were four of us presenting: a Jewish Rabbi, a Hindu, a Muslim and me, the Christian rep. We each spoke for ten minutes or so fegarding our faith tradition and its teachings about poverty. Following our presentation, we responded to questions raised by folks in the room.
It was a rich experience. The hospitality was warm and the appreciation for such a gathering lent shimmer to the event.
What I came to know about myself is this: I begin from the place of the power of Jesus’ social teachings. Built upon the strength of his Hebrew roots, Jesus had much to say about how it is being God’s beloveds means we live with an awareness of our connection in community.
I suggested more than once that if we organized: within our faith traditions and across our faith traditions, the structures that create the blight of poverty would be dismantled. It was a novel concept to some, this notion of joined power and civic impact.
We have a long way to go. But if we are not willing to lean into our faith teachings and bring them into the light of day of lived values, I figure we ought close the doors of the busily kept up temples and churches and content ourselves with a world we are not much thrilled about leaving to our children and grandchildren.
We are rich in instruction and promise. Will we summon the imagination and faith to live it?
What I experienced yet again is the conviction that the teachings of Jesus are sufficient for this task. And I learned that I am oh so hungry for a movement of folk who see the oughtness of fully lived Christian life.