To the beloved people within the LGBTQ community:
I am so, so sorry. We the Church need to beg our sincere forgiveness for how we have treated you. My heart is wrecked that we live in a world where we accept mass shootings as the status quo, and where the vast majority of us do not grieve with you because of your sexual orientation. I am sorry that we have to designate “safe zones” in our schools and universities, because you have rightly felt unsafe by our harmful actions done and those left undone. I am sorry that we have not protected our LGBT youth who struggle with the desire to end their very life, because it is easier to pass by than come close. I am sorry you’ve had to live under the label, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” as if it assumes we are not. I am sorry that the Church has imposed conditions for love and timelines for change. I am sorry for how my own heart has judged and excluded, staying silent when I should have spoken. I am sorry for my apathy.
Regardless of what anyone tells you, you are needed and wanted. Your stories are brave and true and welcome. Here are my arms wide open, in hopes that I make you feel a little more safe and seen and loved. A couple of weeks ago when I was in Boston, a good friend invited me to a beautiful Episcopal church where the pastor identified openly as queer. She spoke of the Holy Spirit in the language of she which I almost stood up and cheered right then, because the Greek word pneuma is gender-neutral and Hebrew ruach is feminine for the Spirit of God. But I digress. Several of the church members were gay or lesbian couples that had finally found a worshiping community where they are loved and accepted just as they are, a safe haven to cherish the God of endless mercy and grace.
At the end of the service, we were all invited and included in the promise of the Eucharistic table. This is his Body broken for you. This is the Blood spilled for you. Do this in remembrance of Me. Communion brings us together in ways nothing else can, partaking in death and resurrection, breaking the bread of Love, passing the cup of peace. When we gather in community with those we may not agree with, when we make room at the Table, our carefully-constructed boundaries of who’s in and who’s out shatter, a fresh inbreaking of Spirit with the redemptive movement that she brings.
This precious work called reconciliation bids us to come: deeper and closer together to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. To listen to stories wrought with pain, and to grieve that pain as our own. To see the face of our beautiful God in the other. To cover over a multitude of sins, with love and grace and forgiveness. To hold hands and pray over and over and over again.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.