We begin this morning with Jesus immersed deep in thought. There is a crime of hate coming, but wasn’t it always. Jesus was simply too queer for a world that demanded neat identities and boundaries.
This morning there are many of us who feel similarly. We know that to challenge the acceptable identities and boundaries that we are placed in is to open our selves up to crimes of hate. We have all experienced the vulnerability that Jesus is experiencing. We know the feeling of impending crimes of hate.
Just this past week, we were reminded of what our society does to the Queer. The skirt of Sasha Fleischman, an 18-year-old gender-neutral high school student in Berkely, California, was lit on fire by 16-year-old Richard Thomas. Sasha suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns. Richard has been charged with attempted murder and a hate crime, which carries the possibility of a sentence of life with parole. Our hearts break for Sasha and Richard, knowing that these events transpired because our society hates queerness and taught Richard to hate too. Even with the knowledge that society can be so dangerous, Sasha choose to love Sasha and not lie to the world about who Sasha is. Sasha refused to live within the presumably safe space of inauthentic closeted identities and boundaries. I am moved by the courage of Sasha to live honestly in unsafe spaces and I pray that we will follow.
Jesus has much to teach us about notions of safe space. Jesus did not live in a safe space, but Jesus chose to keep going on the risky queer path of love. Jesus was ready to sacrifice Jesus’ life so that life might be born anew and people might know love.
If we are going to truly experience life and love, our journey will not be safe. For life and love are inherently risky. If we decide to challenge the demanded and oppressive identities and boundaries of this world, there will be pain in the journey away…but in the journey away there is real freedom and love to be found.
The path that we choose as a community is not safe. There are no maps or safety nets on how to be a queer church. Journeys without clear paths are always dangerous. No matter the cost, however, we have chosen to be the queers that we are and go where the Queer leads. Sasha and Jesus did too.
When Judas plants the kiss in the park, Jesus had a choice. Do I take the risky queer path of love or the safe path of closeted normativity? Sasha and Jesus chose to be queer. May we go and choose likewise.