OWL Scripture Reflection – March 2023

Beacon of Love

By Rev. Amy Johnson

March 2023

12-13Can you not see, my relatives? We must no longer let our weak and broken human ways guide us, for that path led us only to death. But if we let the Spirit put to death these broken ways, we will share [their] life, 14for it is the ones who follow the guidance of Creator’s Spirit who are truly [their] children.

~ Romans 8: 12-14
First Nations Version: An Indigenous Translation of the New Testament

A colleague recently emailed that an irate person accosted several church members after worship last week to proselytize about how they should remove the church’s rainbow flags, and how God doesn’t make mistakes.

This was not in Florida, or Texas, or Georgia, or Indiana, or any of the many other states where hundreds of anti-LGBTQIA+ laws have been introduced. This was in a suburb of a large and liberal city on the West Coast.

God doesn’t make mistakes, but humans do.

Human beings are notorious for arguing over what God’s message is, getting God’s message wrong, and not following it even when we get it right.

The Good News is that Jesus taught us the way, and that way is love.

Love in the midst of hate. Love in the midst of anger. Love in the midst of oppression and repression.

Love especially and particularly for those who are marginalized and oppressed by human-made systems. Love especially and particularly for those whom empire and government conspire against in order to keep their power in place.

And make no mistake, they will use every means available to them in order to keep that power—including turning the Gospel into a message of hate and exclusion.

One of my favorite Rachel Held Evans quotes is, “The apostles remembered what many modern Christians tend to forget—that what makes the gospel offensive isn’t who it keeps out but who it lets in.”

Rainbow flags and banners and stickers profess a message of who you let into your space, and that, my friends, is holy and sacred.

Yet we are living in a time when it is not enough to believe these things to be true.

We must align our bodies with our spirits and take action.

We must remember that we are the hands and feet of God in this world. At the same time that we need God to carry us through this valley of destruction of human rights, God is looking to us to embody hope for others.

What does that look like?

Our Christ-centered response looks like:

  • Advocating for gender affirming care, everywhere
  • Allowing comprehensive sexuality education to be taught to all children so they are safe to have conversations about gender and relationships and diversity of families and friends
  • Honoring that one’s gender is not a choice and creating space to have discussions about the wonderful diversity of God’s creation
  • Honoring the diversity of what family looks like and not restricting educators in their discussion of reality
  • Honoring names and pronouns
  • Voting and encouraging others to vote
  • Speaking out, even when it feels hopeless
  • Lending support to others who are in this fight.

March 31st, right before we enter into holy week this year, is Trans Day of Visibility. This day is an international celebration of the lives and contributions of beloved trans people, while also raising awareness about the poverty, discrimination and violence this community faces.

I challenge you to consider how you will embody hope during this Holy Week, no matter what gender you are, to proclaim the goodness and holiness of trans and non-binary Children of God. How will you show up? Because right now, my friends, our voices need to be loud.

In a recent statement published by UCC leaders, we stated, ”Through tender love and just action, the National Ministries of the United Church of Christ will continue to be a beacon of love for our trans siblings. The light of Christ, which we hold dear, will not diminish here. We remain committed to speaking faith-based truth, and offering care for trans siblings within our country and globally.”

Will you join us?