The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27:1 (NRSV)
It was scary enough when the young white man stood up in the middle of the Drag Gospel Festival worship service and started screaming religious invective, telling us we were in Satan's clutches. Every mind immediately went to Mother Emmanuel AME Church, where nine people had been shot dead by another young white man, just for being who they were: black and Christian.
But fear persisted into the next week, when a conservative blogger got hold of the story and spread it around the internet, riling up dozens of people who sent emails, made harassing phone calls and posted ugly things on social media. “Drop a bomb on it!” said one man.
And fear persisted into the week after that, when a different young white man showed up early for worship. He kept looking around him nervously. When I stood to give the (non)traditional welcome, “Welcome if you are queer or straight or a little bit of each…black or brown or white or a little bit of each,” I was keenly aware of his hand in his pocket, and my own vulnerability.
But then, in the midst of the deluge of hate from other Christians, one unwittingly ironic comment appeared, to praise us with faint damnation:
“This sodomite festival raised $7,000 for LGBT support!!! This means sinners give more graciously than those who profess to be saved! We have done event after event to raise money to do God’s work to bring the gospel to villages all over Latin America, and our average earnings per event are $300-400. What is wrong with this picture?”
When push comes to shove amidst all the pushing and shoving, I’d rather be a generous sinner than a parsimonious saint. And I’d rather be convicted by others as a heretic than self-convicted of my own place in heaven. Certainty about our righteousness may be the worst sin we can commit, because it hides our own unrighteousness from us.
God, let me be uncertain about my own righteousness, and certain of your unconditional love for both me and my enemies.
Small Group Discussion
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister of First Congregational Church UCC in Berkeley, California, and the author of the best-selling Real Good Church, Standing Naked Before God, and her newest baby, Bless This Mess: A Modern Guide to Faith and Parenting in a Chaotic World.