Like every Sunday morning, I arrived early at Mable Peabody’s Beauty Parlor and Chainsaw Repair Shop to set up for church. The musicians were inside and I was outside unloading my car. I had my back to the parking lot when all of a sudden from behind me I heard repetitively, “Fuck You Faggot!” I turned to see three young men pointing and snarling at me from their car. I stared long and hard enough to give the young men time to see my resolve then went inside. I tried to forget what happened. I returned to the door about ten minutes later and there were a bunch of broken bottles right next to my car. Even though I saw those same bottles in the hands of the guys I saw previously, I convinced myself that they were there from the bar the night before. I had a sermon to preach and a church to guide. After church, I walked out to my car and there were shards of glass carefully leaned up against my back tires to puncture the tire when I backed up. One of our folks stated quite clearly the feelings of everyone present, “We are a church constantly under attack.”
These words have rung true in my mind. It doesn’t matter what our church does…we will be attacked. Our love makes us a target and vulnerable.
During the service surrounding these events, I taught about Lazarus and believe that Jesus has much to teach us about being attacked for our love. In the eleventh chapter of John, Jesus decides to go see his sick friend Lazarus. The disciples begged him not to go, as they knew they were under attack. When Jesus chooses to love his friend Lazarus and go to him, the disciples felt that they were traveling to their deaths. I guess in many ways we are all traveling to our deaths, it is just a question of what we are going to stand for as we travel.
Jesus arrived. Lazarus was dead. Jesus wept. Some scholars have speculated that Lazarus was Jesus’ lover. This is a secondary question for me, as I am most interested in the quality and quantity of Jesus’ love. Jesus loved Lazarus with all the love that Jesus could muster and that is queer enough.
Even though Jesus knew it would lead to more attacks, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Love is proven to be more powerful than death. Love is proven to still be love even when it is under attack. For this, the religious folks decided to kill Jesus.
The incident at the church yesterday was just a brief reminder that we are consistently under attack. Our love is going to make us a target and vulnerable. So what do we do? I pray that we will continue raising people from the dead.