This morning we sit firmly between the juxtaposition of safety and risk. Since we opened the doors of this church, we have consistently dealt with such juxtaposition. Last week, I had a few guys scream “fuck you faggot” at me and later put glass underneath my tires. This week we had a religious man roll up on a motorcycle and become rather confrontational with some of our folk who were standing outside smoking. Although we work hard to keep all of you safe in this space, make no mistake that the work that we engage in is risky business. There is risk involved in daring to promote a queer way of looking at the world. We dare to confront bigotry and homophobia. We dare to confront normalized identities and categories that accomplish nothing but division. We dare to stand for total love. We dare to stand for total inclusion. We dare to out ourselves as queer in a world that often seems hopelessly closeted…and by God we dare do it with the cross of Jesus in the middle of our space. This is not just risky business…this is downright scandalous.
We are not alone in the creation of scandals.
In the twelfth chapter of John, Jesus creates a scandal. Let me paint the scene for you. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Now, Lazarus sits at the table. When was the last time you had dinner with a formerly dead man? Then, to take things even further, Mary pulls out her perfume, pours it all over Jesus’ feet, and whips her hair back and forth to make sure the perfume is rubbed in. So we have a dead man and a pretty sensual woman sitting at the table…and then we find out that some of the motley crew of disciples that Jesus ran around with were also in attendance. This was one scandalous interaction. Many folks on the outside, including pastors and other activists of the time, talked about what was going on in the house. I think you all refer to such talk as, “talking shit.”
Regardless, many of the same folks who talked shit about Jesus’ scandalous meal were also there to greet Jesus as Jesus came out in Jesus’ own way on the way into Jerusalem. As everyone waived rainbow flags and Jesus rode in on the back of a longhorn at what might have been the first Pride, we also meet all of the actors who less than a week later at the very least will refuse to stop and at the very worst will participate in a hate crime that ends in the death of Jesus. In the crowd Jesus knows that those who hold rainbow flags in one hand and a knife behind their back in the other are worth the risk…the risk of love. Whatever these folks held and whatever creature Jesus rode in on, the point is that coming out to love was not just risky for Jesus…it ultimately lead to death.
Jesus declared love to be the destiny of Jesus…and love takes risk. When we come out to love we are dying to the perceived safety of closets…we are awakening to ourselves so that we might destroy the need for closets and bring the universal inclusive change that can come if we all live as exactly the queer that God created us to be.
You see we are a church that declares that all are in and none are out. We are here to save the church. We are here to save the world. We are here to save ourselves.
Jesus beckons the people, “Believe in God…Believe in Me.” When you come out, you are declaring to the world that who you are is exactly the image of God that you are created to be. You are a reflection of God. You too are able to say boldly, scandalously, “Believe in God…Believe in Me.” So on this day take hold of your life and do not allow anyone to define the queer that you are and will always be. So on this day…follow that old queer Jesus…come out to love…come out to freedom…come out to hope…come out to light…may there never be a need for any closets again.