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The Paralytic Church, Queerphobia & Frank Schaefer

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Do any of you believe in healing?  Do you believe that Jesus actually healed a paralytic in a house full of people?  What if someone rolled into this space in a wheelchair this morning to ask for our prayers and walked out?  There are many of you who would explain it away at all costs.  You simply could not handle the thought that a real healing might have actually taken place.  I want to remind everyone that it will be difficult for you to be healed if you don’t believe in healing.  I want to remind everyone that it will be difficult to change our culture if we don’t believe in healing.  I want to remind everyone that it will be difficult to change the wider church if we don’t believe in healing.  Do you believe?

 

The most beautiful group of people in this story from my vantage point are the friends of the paralytic who take the time to lift him up, carry him to the house where Jesus is, lower him through the roof and make sure he gets to see Jesus.  There are many of you sitting in this room this morning who have had a difficult week….you have been down on the mat… and you have needed friends and sometimes they have answered or sometimes they have not.  I want to make sure that this is a church full of mat carriers….when people are down on the mat…I want us to pick them up and take them to places of healing.  I know an entity that is down on the mat this morning…the church.

 

The church is paralyzed with queerphobia.  The church is terrified of anything that is different or not fitting within normativities.  Our church exists because we have decided to not play by the rules of the institutional churches that have oppressed so many for so long.  We have decided to set up shop outside the gates of what the institutional church calls normative.  We have dared call ourselves queer.  The church is on the mat this morning and I believe churches like us are the only spaces that can take the institutional church to spaces where real healing can take place…at the very feet of the God who calls God’s self love.  Are we going to be mat carriers for the church this morning?

 

Not long after the healing of the paralytic, the disciples of Jesus picked some grain on the sabbath.  This might not sound like that big of a deal to you, but during this time to do any work on the sabbath was a direct violation of Jewish laws about the sabbath.  The Pharisees confront Jesus and Jesus responds, “The sabbath was made for humanity not humanity for the sabbath.”  This parallels the religious world that we find ourselves in this morning.

 

I think there is a big question that the church needs to hear…  Is the Bible made for humanity or humanity for the Bible?  The Bible says thou shall not kill…but the Bible is the number one murder weapon used against queer folk…to kill our spirits…to kill our minds…to kill our bodies.  The Bible says to love your neighbor as your self…but the Bible is the number one weapon used to deny love to queer folk.  The Bible says that Jesus is united with the least of these…but the Bible is used over and over again to take Jesus away from queer folk.  The Bible says that faith, hope and love will remain but the greatest of these is love…but the Bible is used to say that the love of queer folk is not deserving of the title of love.  I am tired of folks who believe that humanity was made for the Bible not the Bible for humanity.  If God is love…then our only question about anything should be is whatever we are examining love or not?  That is the fundamental question of our faith.  If it is not love…then I don’t care what chapter or book you found it in…it is not the word of God…period.

 

Tonight, I get the opportunity to interact with Rev. Frank Schaefer…the defrocked Pennsylvania United Methodist minister who has made national news in recent months.  Let me tell you all what crime this man committed to get defrocked or to lose his ministerial credentials…Schaefer performed the wedding ceremony of his son.  The local annual conference of the United Methodist Church took away Schaefer’s credentials to be a minister because Schaefer’s son married a man.  Which one sounds like love to you?  A dad performing the wedding ceremony of his son or a church taking away the ministerial credentials of someone for performing the marriage ceremony of his son?  The answer is of course obvious to us…but not to those church folk who are paralyzed by queerphobia.

 

I will be there tonight at the Cathedral of Hope to support Frank Schaefer and all ministers who have the courage to pursue a church that is founded in and on love.

 

May we never stop carrying the mat where the paralyzed church lay and being the partners that it needs to get to that place where it meets Jesus again and finds love anew.

 

Amen.

Delivered at Prism Denton 2/9/2014

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