We Will Keep Working; We Will Keep Praying

On April 26, 2015, in Sunshine Cathedral, by Rev.Dr. Robert

We Will Keep Working; We Will Keep Praying Rev Dr Durrell Watkins (April 26th, 2015) Our readings today feature the attitude of gratitude. And the psalmist, while affirming gratitude, also dares to hope for some things to improve. The psalmist is grateful, and also prays, “O Source of Life, please help us. Save us. Give […]

We Will Keep Working; We Will Keep Praying
Rev Dr Durrell Watkins (April 26th, 2015)

Our readings today feature the attitude of gratitude. And the psalmist, while affirming gratitude, also dares to hope for some things to improve. The psalmist is grateful, and also prays, “O Source of Life, please help us. Save us. Give us success…” Today, I am grateful, and hopeful, and vigilant.

I am grateful for the end of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and the so-called Defense of Marriage Act
I am grateful Marriage equality in 37 states.
I am grateful for Metropolitan Community Churches…founded by Troy Perry on October 6th, 1968 to provide a safe, encouraging, affirming spiritual home for LBGT people and their allies.

I am grateful for other religious groups that over the years followed MCC’s lead in celebrating the lives and gifts of LBGT people.

I am grateful for the recently departed Episcopal gay priest Malcolm Boyd, for out gay Bishop Gene Robinson, for the late Bishop Otis Charles who came out in retirement, and for Carter Heyward – a lesbian feminist theologian and one of the first 11 women priests in the Episcopal Church.

I am grateful for Bishop Yvette Flunder, a Lesbian progressive Pentecostal who daily challenges oppressive theologies.

I am grateful for Jimmy Creech who was defrocked as a Methodist pastor because of his advocacy of marriage equality.

And I am grateful for Sunshine Cathedral’s own Father John McNeill who was booted out of the Jesuits by none other than Cardinal Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, now known for his unique role as pope emeritus. Father John was punished by Ratzinger for openly advocating for same-gender loving people.

I am grateful for the American Psychiatric Asso and the American Psychological Asso, and other social services, mental health, medical, and legal organizations that have long recognized the normalcy of same-gender love and attraction.

I am grateful for celebrities, athletes, politicians, activists and other allies and advocates who speak out for LBGT people.

I am grateful for and proud of heterosexual Las Vegas high school student Jacob Lescenski, who asked his gay best friend Anthony Martinez to the prom.

I am grateful that more and more people are realizing that trying to pit marriage equality against religious faith is a false dichotomy and a cheap trick that ultimately will not work.

I am grateful that religious people are standing up and speaking out to say that not only does our faith not require bigotry and discrimination, our faith demands that we oppose bigotry and discrimination, because God is love and genuine love mutually shared by two people is never and can never be a sin.

I am grateful for religious stories that affirm covenantal relationships between persons of the same gender.
I am grateful for the story of a disciple Jesus called beloved reclining intimately on his chest.
I am grateful for the story of David proclaiming his love and lifelong devotion to his companion Jonathan, who David loved, according to his own testimony, in a way he could never love women.
I am grateful for the story of Ruth making a lifelong vow to Naomi, saying, “Whither thou goest I will go…and where thou lodgest I will lodge…and where you die I will die and there I will be buried.” That lifelong vow made from one woman to another has been used in heterosexual weddings for centuries, and I am thankful that women can again make that vow to another woman and it has legal standing in 37 states, and soon, all 50.

I am grateful for the story of Saint Felicity and Saint Perpetua who were lovers, martyred for their faith, who as they were being killed shared one last kiss.

I am grateful for the story of Saint Bacchus and Saint Sergius who were also lovers, also martyred for their Christian faith. And the story tells us that Bacchus died before Sergius did, but Bacchus came to Sergius in a vision to assure him that they would be together again, eternally in love in the afterlife.

I am grateful for friends, parents, grandparents, children, siblings and cousins of same-gender loving and gender non-conforming people, heterosexual allies who didn’t have to show support to the kids being bullied, or to the transgender teens abandoned to the streets, or to Queer youth tormented by their churches’ soul-crushing rhetoric, and yet these heterosexual heroes have chosen to take a stand, to stand on the side of love and compassion and justice, who have realized that everyone picks and chooses what they will believe and who have themselves therefore chosen to believe in the Golden Rule rather than in misunderstood and misused texts that have beaten people into overwhelming despair. God bless straight friends and allies who have said my LBGT loved ones are more important to me than politics, oppressive theologies, or damaging dogma.

There is so much for which to be grateful.
And, there is still more work to do.

While attitudes generally are much friendlier toward LBGT people, Right Wing politicians continue to exploit the fears and prejudices of the least tolerant as they attempt to pass laws to marginalize, exclude, vilify, and demonize LBGT
people. A minister and former Arkansas governor warns that if gay discrimination isn’t codified in law then Christianity will be outlawed, and 43 Senators wouldn’t vote for a sex trafficking bill if it included protections for LBGT homeless youth (one of those Senators is from Florida)…the hateful extremists will one day be illuminated or their influence will be eliminated, but for now, they continue to use every resource available to them to crush Queer lives. We’ve got work to do.

While 37 states have marriage equality, 13 forbid it, and 26 have laws that allow some form of discrimination against LBGT people (even if those states allow same-gender loving people to marry). We’ve got work to do.

Violence against LBGT people remains a problem, and while more worshiping communities are welcoming of LBGT people, those that aren’t are often rabidly homophobic and verbally abusive toward LBGT people.
There is much more work to do!

The Religious Institute is a multifaith organization dedicated to advocating for sexual health, education and justice in faith communities and society. More than 6400 clergy, seminary presidents and deans, religious scholars and other religious leaders representing more than 70 faith traditions are part of the Religious Network; your senior minister is among them. The Religious Institute has called for worship services this weekend to include prayer for the upcoming SCOTUS decision which could make marriage equality a reality in all 50 states.

A brief in support of Marriage Equality has been submitted to the US Supreme Court; it is 92 pages in length, and includes signatures from clergy from all 50 states and 55 religious organizations! Further demonstrating that being people of faith does not require homophobic intolerance, churches and synagogues (including Sunshine Cathedral) are publicly praying for a fair and just ruling from the Supreme Court. Of course, others are working viciously to protect and enshrine homophobia; so our witness is needed as much as ever.

And so, we dedicate today’s worship service to the hope for nationwide marriage equality. We are praying throughout the service for marriage equality. In fact, Rev Anne and I want to pray with you right now. Join us in the spirit of prayer:

Goddess of Love,
Lord of Life,
Mother of Possibilities,
Father of Hope,
Spirit of Justice,
Wind of Positive Change,
Fire of Courage,
Wave of Right Relationship,
Ground of All Being,
We dare to embrace optimism today.
We choose to believe that Right Action is at hand.
We pray for the Supreme Court to protect the rights of all people, to uphold the ideal of liberty and justice for ALL.
We affirm that marriage equality is right and good, and it must and it will become the law of the land.
The time is right.
Let Love prevail!
In the name of all that is good and holy we pray.

We will keep working. We will keep praying, until marriage equality is a national reality.
We will keep working. We will keep praying until all people enjoy equal rights.
We will keep working. We will keep praying until Queer people all over the world are safe and treated with dignity.
We will keep working. We will keep praying until Queer lives and Black lives and Brown lives and lives that do not conform to gender binaries and poor lives and non-English speaking lives and women’s bodies and the sacred Earth herself are no longer the battle grounds used by keepers of power to maintain their privilege.
We will keep working. We will keep praying. THIS is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2015

I am a person of sacred value.
I am God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.
I deserve to be happy and blessed.
And so it is!

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