16 March 2009

Love all the “whosoevers.”

Lectionary: 4th Sunday in Lent

Three times today I have been the object of judgment by a male stranger. Each time had something to do with my perceived sexuality. Two proclaimed longing but then there was the one in Park Slope. After brunch a female friend and I were walking down Eighth Avenue when we noticed the street was a congested parking lot of traffic due to the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade. As we walked along a man with the windows rolled down in his car screamed at the traffic and the drivers to go. We both chuckled to ourselves and kept walking. In the next breath the driver began shouting at us and hurled a particularly hateful, sexual slur. My face fell and we walked along for another block in silence, parted awkwardly, and separated ways. We checked in with each other later in the evening and found we were both a little shaken, afraid, and angry.

Condemnation will do that to yah, I guess.

Judgment is painful.

The Good News is that judgment in John 3 is nothing like what I experienced today. John clearly states in verse 17 that Christ did not come to condemn. John is not talking about a god who wags a finger in our general direction nor a savior who hurls hatred and self doubt out the window. No, the Gospel writer speaks of love and grace that ushers us into the light of wholeness with audacious, courageous acceptance and joy. God’s grace sustains and scoots us along the path and helps us to judge and discern what is light and life giving and what is not.

Condemnation is life in the darkness. We who trust in Christ do not need to stay in the dark. Grace sustains our path. Spirit illumines our way. Christ comes to us as a gift of grace, shining love and light into our darkest places.

John 3:16 reminds us that we are claimed because we, queer and straight alike, are part of the “whosoever” that God loves. “Whosoever” includes any and every one of us who dares trust that there is something to this Jesus story. The “whosoever” in 3:16 includes me and you, and, yes, the guy in the car. “Whosoever” includes all of who we are: our sexuality, our sexual orientation, and our beloved sexual partner.

How often do we listen to the road-rage voice and turn anger inward instead of remembering that we, too, are included in the “whosoever?” It is easy to do which is why we need to show ourselves and each other an extra amount of grace this Lent. As we look towards Calvary, let us be earnest in our Lenten disciplines to judge and discern the light and dark parts of our lives. Let us also be clear that when we name our darkness and our sins we are not nailing our most sacred and beloved parts of ourselves up on a tree of condemnation. Trust the light. Look to the light of the world. Love all the “whosoevers.”

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