Monday, December 29, 2008

Radical Hospitality and the Holy Family

I’ve been in the midst of an e-mail exchange with a woman whose family has been made most decidedly unwelcome at her church. This past Sunday, when I was preaching on radical hospitality in my parish (from John’s prologue—1:1-18), she was being subjected to a sermon on the definition of family as limited to heterosexual, married, couples with children (in honor of the Holy Family). I wish I had been there to hold my hands over her toddler’s ears. As a member of my congregation recently stated—“it’s always helpful to remind people that Jesus was not the product of a heterosexual married couple.” Harrumph.

As I discerned my own call to the priesthood it really didn’t occur to me that I would be limited in any way by my gender or sexual orientation (thanks to wonderful clergy, progressive/liberal schooling, and my own naiveté). And, in so many ways, I think that both my gender and sexual orientation have made me a better clergywoman. When I first came out in high school I desperately needed a place in which I felt loved, valued and accepted—the Episcopal Church became that place. And, as I realized exactly how unsafe it could be “out there” and how unwelcome the church could make people feel, I began to understand my calling as creating places of love, safety and welcome for everyone. I want people to truly know that they are beautifully and wonderfully made in the image of God. I want people to live fully into the personhood that God intends for them—one aspect of which is to enter into loving relationship with others who can help us to see God’s revelation through incarnation. If that loving relationship is with someone of the same gender, the opposite gender, another gender altogether (I’m not much for the binary gender system), a platonic friendship, parenting, godparenting, auntying , uncleing , or any other way of engaging with community—well, it’s all good.

So, in honor of the Holy Family: Mary who conceived out of wedlock by the Holy Spirit, Jesus who was born to unwed parents, and Joseph who decided that he could love a son that was not his by conception and a betrothed who was mysteriously with child—in honor of this family, may God bless and keep you and those you love this day and always. Amen.

1 comment:

The Morrigan said...

JoyJoy, this is a beautiful post. *smiles*