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Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa, Jesus & the Space Between

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In our first gathering as a church, we spent time wrestling with what it means to be created queer in the image of a Queer God.  We explored what it looks like to birth the Queer from within following the example of Jesus.  We dreamed of what it looks like for the Queer Spirit to guide us in queering the world.  We are a new church learning and experiencing many new things.  Today, we will discuss the space from which the Queer is found…that space from which we transcend temporal normative boundaries and experience the divine in and outside of our self.

 

I want to share with you a reading from renowned Chicana feminist queer thinker Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa from this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation:

 

“Bridges span liminal (threshold) spaces between worlds, spaces I call nepantla, a Nahuatl word meaning tierra entre medio. Transformations occur in this in-between space, an unstable, unpredictable, precarious, always-in-transition space lacking clear boundaries.  Nepantla es tierra desconocida, and living in this liminal zone means being in a constant state of displacement–an uncomfortable, even alarming feeling.  Most of us dwell in nepantla so much of the time it’s become a sort of ‘home.’  Though this state links us to other ideas, people, and worlds, we feel threatened by these new connections and the change they engender.”

[Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa & AnaLouise Keating, Gloria Evangelina Anzaldua’s Preface “(Un)natural bridges, (Un)safe spaces” in this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation (New York: Routledge, 2002)]

 

I have found the space that Anzaldua calls nepantla to be similar if not the same to the space that I call queer.  This queer space is a bridge between spaces that lacks clear boundaries and can ultimately be the space from which we transcend boundaries.  Existing in this precarious space of between means that we must claim identity based on who we are as an individual.  The queer person or every person is created queer beyond identity and boundary.  In order to discover the queer within and without we must travel to these border spaces beyond boundary.  I believe that it is in these spaces of between that we find God.  Jesus made a habit of existing and traveling in these spaces.

 

In John 4, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at a well and asks her for a drink of water.  This might not sound too revolutionary to you…but this was a very queer encounter.  The Samaritan woman could not believe her ears…for Jews did not associate with Samaritans…you can go ahead and substitute black and white or male and female or brown and black or brown and white or gay and straight or whatever sometimes opposing constructed identities you like.  Jesus pushed down the boundary and began a conversation that had eternal ramifications…because Jesus was willing to be at the border and the Samaritan woman boldly refused to leave the space.  Boundaries were eliminated as Jesus and the Samaritan woman existed beyond ethnic borders and dwelled in a space of love and justice called queer.  This was not the first or the last time that Jesus revealed the Queer.

 

In Matthew 14, Mark 6 and John 6, the disciples of Jesus see a figure walking across the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a storm.  Jesus called to the disciples and Peter got out of the boat and walked on water toward Jesus.  In the space between the natural and the supernatural, Jesus called to Peter and they both stood in a queer space.  Unfortunately, the space became too frightening for Peter and he began to sink.  The danger of running away from that which we are afraid is that we often lose our footing in the space called queer.  In the queer space between the natural and supernatural, Jesus calls all people to get out of the boat and find the queer within and without as they walk on water.  Jesus was not afraid to step into the storm and nor should we be…for it is in those spaces of fear that the divine is revealed.  I believe that Jesus teaches us to push into and past fear…and thus reveal the queer.

 

Jesus was not afraid to be…queer…and nor should we.

 

Amen.

Delivered at The Queer Church of Dallas

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