Birth and the Queer
Toward the end of the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke, we find Elizabeth and Zechariah about to welcome a son named John. You can substitute the names Bob or Elaine for Elizabeth or Zechariah or take away names and make the people whoever or whatever relationship status or sexuality you want, but the fact remains that these were individuals about to welcome a child into their family and just like in all cases of birth, adoption or any other way of bringing a child into a family many were curious as to what the child would be like. There were questions.
We are culturally a people who often demand answers and certainty in the midst of questions. When John was brought into the family, friends and neighbors assumed that the child would be named the culturally appropriate Zechariah after his dad, but Elizabeth and Zechariah said no and departed from the normative expectations of others to name the child John. When we follow God, sometimes names change and don’t seem to fit, but let us not forget that we serve a God whose perfection always arrives out of the queer.
John or John the Baptist is proclaimed to be the one who will prepare the way for Jesus the Christ. The one with the queer name…who will only become queerer…is actually called the preparer of the way for the queerest of them all.
Elizabeth and Zechariah refused to succumb to normative pressure and staked their claim in a queer space in naming John.
When questions of identity come our way, will we stake our claim in the normative expectations of others or in being the queer individual that God has created us to be?
Elizabeth and Zechariah blessed their child with difference so that John might make a difference. You cannot make a difference until you are willing to be different. You cannot change normative constructions of hate and fear until you are willing to embrace the queer.
Who or what will we decide to be?
When queer things begin to happen, sometimes doubt slips in. How many people know about self-doubt and insecurity this morning? When people begin to question who or what we are, it is easy to self-question and retreat to the safe spaces of normativity.
In the second half of our Christmas story this morning, Joseph is struggling with the fact that Mary is pregnant. He knows that he didn’t get her pregnant and figures that she must have cheated on him. You can insert any impossible pregnancy into this situation (including same-sex couples or individuals) and understand the picture. Things grew queerer and queerer…and Joseph flipped out.
An angel appeared to Joseph and let him know that the queer was actually God.
In the next week we will be talking about the birth of Jesus…and as the story grows queerer…let us not forget that the queer is God.
May we all birth the queer in this special time of year.