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“Beyond Identity: The Image of a Queer God”

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-Preached at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal)  in St. Louis, MO on Sept. 7, 2015

 

Spaces of intersectionality are spaces of divinity. Such spaces draw us nearer to the God that exists at the intersection of us all. Such thoughts conjure up important questions… Who is God? Who are we? These questions can only be answered fully at a place of intersection…in the beginning.

 

We always fail when we try to describe God. We are always pointing to something beyond description. In the words of the great theologian Brother Paul Tillich, “God is the God beyond God.” Let me explain it like this… Do you love your partner or your child or anyone else that you have a special relationship with just like you love everyone else? There exists love beyond love…mercy beyond mercy…grace beyond grace…hope beyond hope…justice beyond justice…that existence is God. We get small glimpses of these things…but the God that is…is the God that is beyond our finite categories.

 

Too often we spend our lives normatizing everything we come in contact with. We try to make things fit. We try to make ourselves fit. We try to make God fit…but God has never fit and we were made in that God’s image. We spend so much time making God into our image and forgetting that we were made in God’s image. We were not made to fit. We were not made for categories. We were not made for identities. Just like God…we were not made to be defined. We were made to be something so much more than this…queer.

 

Queerness is about rejecting normativity and living into the beauty of our creation. Queerness is about being holy and undefined…just like God. We were not made to be explained. We were made to be queer. We have a Queer God who created us in God’s queer image. So what in the hell happened?

 

Y’all remember Eden? That old snake slithered up and said, “If you eat of the tree, you will be made like God.” The first sin is always to look for God somewhere other than within. You were created in the very image of God. If you want to know God, look at your own queer reflection. Stop looking everywhere else! Believe that God created you queerly and you are enough! There is no need to look anywhere else. Yet…we’ve been looking everywhere else for a very long time. Let’s run to Jesus for the solution.

 

John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Let me assure you… “In the beginning was the Queer, the Queer was with God and the Queer was God.” The Queer is the queerest of them all. The Queer is beyond categories and identities. The Queer is Jesus…but it wasn’t always like that. Jesus had to grow in his queerness…so that he could show us how to grow into ours.

 

That old Syrophoenician woman had to teach Jesus a thing or two. You see…JESUS WAS A RACIST. Let’s make it plain. Jesus was a racist. Jesus was approached by the Syrophoenician woman about healing her daughter and Jesus called her a dog. Does that ring any bells? Christ Church Cathedral has been at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter Movement. So often we call minorities in this country…”dogs.” We might not say it out loud…but we say it by our actions…we say it by how we spend our money…we say it by the things that we leave unsaid and undone. You think you are any better than Jesus??? Jesus got called out. The Syrophoenician woman reminded Jesus that there is nothing queer about racism and Jesus responded. Jesus had to be reminded that there is nothing queer about racism in order to be healed. The Syrophoenician woman brought Jesus along…and there is another woman who is very glad that she did. Jesus was made queerer in that moment and a few months later he met a woman…

 

You see there was a woman who was caught in adultery. The Pharisees said they caught her in the very act. How long where they looking? After the Pharisees got over their watching…they got back to their accusing…and threw the woman at the feet of Jesus. In the prior revelation of queerness, Jesus learned what it looks like to stand with the marginalized and oppressed. Jesus was ready to be queer. Jesus was ready to stand with the hurting. So what does Jesus do when the woman is thrown at his feet? Jesus doesn’t say a damn thing. You know what he does? Jesus throws his body to the dirt. Jesus places his body on the line. Jesus is ready to die so that this woman might live. That is the answer to the questions, “What does it mean to be queer? What does it mean to follow God? What does it mean to follow Jesus?” You cannot be queer until you are ready to place your body into the conversation. Jesus gives his body to make a difference. Jesus shows us that one has to be different in order to make a difference.

 

In the story and beyond, Jesus shows us what love looks like in action. Ultimately, Jesus died so that others might live. The path of queerness is about doing the same. We are called to be different. Stop trying to be like everyone else! Be queer.

 

We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. There is a famous theologian out there by the name of RuPaul who consistently asks, “How in the hell are you going to love somebody when you can’t love yourself?” You have to live into your queerness. You have to be the queer that God created you to be. You have to love your neighbors queerly. You have to grow queerer and queerer.

 

…and then we will finally be able to fully love into each other as we queer the world.

 

Amen.

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