This morning we gather to meet each other in hopes that by meeting we might find community and in community we might find love and in love we might find answers somewhere in the dark mysteries of the universe.
We encounter Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritan woman was of a marginalized identity. The disciples did not want to go to Samaria yet Jesus went and sought to transcend the boundaries of identity. In my version The Queer, I have The Queer encountering a transgender person to remind us that we still have work to do in order to continue transcending boundaries of identity.
Many of you will argue that this is not a necessary conversation…”I love everyone” you might say…but I think a quick discussion of the recent sins of one of the most prominent queer advocacy organizations in our country will help illustrate that we all have work to do.
According to Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed, in 2007 the Human Rights Campaign supported a trans-exclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act. When confronted with the discrepancy, then president of the Human rights Campaign Joe Solmonese said, “there was no chance that bill was going to get signed into law.” In March 2013 protests at the Supreme Court, staffers from the Human Rights Campaign asked repeatedly for transgender activists to take down their flags. One report says that a staffer or volunteer said, “Marriage is not a transgender issue.” Ultimately, Human Rights Campaign Vice-President Fred Sainz said, “HRC regrets the incidents and offers our apologies to those who were hurt by our actions. We failed to live up to the high standard to which we hold ourselves accountable and we will strive to do better in the future (http://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/with-apology-lgbt-rights-group-seeks-to-avoid-reopening-old). I am not just picking on the Human Rights Campaign, because the truth is we have all failed to live up to the high standard of love and should strive to do better in the future.
The high standard of love, “loving our neighbors as ourselves,” is where we find ourselves this morning. Jesus goes to the woman at the well with love and destroys a boundary. The Queer approaches the transgender person with love and destroys a boundary. Who are we to approach with love this morning? What boundary are we to destroy?
Jesus tells us to “love our enemy.” We meet this morning at a difficult hour. Last night the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman came out and many of us were left disappointed. Trayvon Martin is dead and any semblance of justice seems to be fleeting. I looked on social media last night and thought I might find some insightful comments to help me know how to handle my disappointment. This is what I found, “Rot in hell Zimmerman.” “Fuck you you motherfucking Zimmerman asshole!” “Fuck George Zimmerman!” “Fuck white people.” “I hope George Zimmerman is eaten by wolves and left to rot.” “Fuck white Hispanic people.” “We are going to tear this motherfucker down tonight.” “Watch out tonight because I’m coming for you!” “I am going to fuck up the next Hispanic or white person I see.” These are just a sampling of the line after line of violent hateful words that I read. These words did not come from conservative folks they came from progressive folks.
And we wonder why we cannot communicate beyond the boundaries we have created… Jesus was told that the people of Samaria were to be seen as enemies. Jesus was told that this was a land of people like George Zimmerman. Can you imagine if Jesus had approached the woman at the well and said, “fuck you”? This would have turned out to be a much different story. You cannot love your enemy when the first words out of your mouth are “fuck you.” We have to learn that in order to love we must first learn to not hate.
We learn not to hate by seeing the enemy in our self. Many of you in this room were disappointed with the verdict last night. Many of you have said hateful things about George Zimmerman because you have learned to love Trayvon Martin and your sense of justice has been violated. You are angry.
Have you ever considered that you killed Trayvon Martin?
Have you ever considered you pulled the trigger that ended Trayvon’s life?
Most of you think I am talking crazy right now…but think about the way that we all constantly participate in a society that promotes violence to be a core value. We want to see, hear, and participate in death. The movies we watch consistently glorify killing and violence. We watch all types of programming about war. The television shows that we watch promote serial killers and violent police exploits. We want more gore more death and complain when there is not enough. The music we listen to promotes mafia aggression and gangster killings. We talk violently to each other. We love the stories that have someone carrying a gun and at the end they surprise and kill the bad guy. We all want guns as a result…and think we have to have them in order to protect ourselves. We want laws that allow us to carry anything, almost to the point of a nuclear weapon, in our back pocket. And we wonder why people are dying violently in this country… Daily we scream to the tops of our lungs…more guns, more violence, more cutthroat lyrics, and more people to kill in defense of what is mine. These are the same media and stories that produced George Zimmerman. It should be as hard to love George Zimmerman as it is to love your self…because you too participate in the culture that holds the gun.
Jesus offered the woman at the well living water. This living water is the substance that will make you never thirst again…love. You see love makes us whole…but we must learn how to love radically…for to love partially is to not love at all. We must love in a contemporary way that values each person in each moment.
Jesus approached the woman at a very special place, a monument of love from her ancestors, a well. We often construct monuments of love to the victories that we are able to accomplish. Unfortunately, too often we stay there and refuse to move forward. Can you imagine if the person you have asked to love you better…took you to a monument and said “this is a monument to where I once loved you best”? What the hell does that do? Love cannot be contained in monuments and we would do well to stop building them and love somebody. It is great when we accomplish things, but love is an occurrence of every second. Will you work to learn how to love day in and day out? Will you work to be made complete by love?
The restoration of earth is accomplished through love not hate. We are working towards a world where George Zimmerman is restored to love. We are working toward a world where Trayvon Martin never dies. We are working for a world where there is no longer violence or injustice. We are working toward a world where people and creation are made whole. We long for the restoration of love. We long for people to love and be loved.
The woman at the well and many of us are looking for love. It begins with the self. Learning to love who we are enough to move toward love can change everything…if we are willing. Learn to love your self and you will learn to love the community around you…for you will begin to see even in your enemies…love.
The woman is concerned that class boundaries will keep her from worshipping. Jesus tells her that the day is here when you can worship anywhere you want. You can love anywhere. True love knows no class distinctions. True love knows no boundaries. The day is here when you can love anyone and anywhere you want. Are you courageous enough to step beyond your fears and love? The woman says, “I know that this love is coming” and Jesus replies, “Look in front of you.”
This is the day that love can reign. Are we ready to live lives electrified and restored by love? For many of us at this hour, it begins with George Zimmerman.