For too many of us, when we consider the letters used to describe groups of people it doesn’t tell us much. POC-people of color, those who are not white, are people who embody the rainbow of human expression—much more than three letters. Many hues, various ethnicities and cultures for many people in this country and across the globe.
Colorful God, the letters used to gather those whose sexual orientation and gender identity is outside heterosexual identity (LGBTQIA+), makes some minds go to voyeuristic places. We reduce orientation and identity to sexual acts, one’s appearance, what our eyes see, and our minds entertain. Forgive us God, when our assumptions, summations, and fears reduce whole human beings into its parts. This is unjust to them and to us. As you see us as more than the summation of our parts, help us to see our neighbors, as you see them: whole.
We confess, Holy Love, that there is much we do not understand about human sexual expression, or our capacity to love, to be in relationship with one another, to know what is life-giving, and what is life depleting. We have too often converted our questions and our limited understandings into condemnation. We have feared that orientation and identity is a contagion that some might catch like the coronavirus. Some persons have “passed” in the church and the world undetected. Some parents and grandparents with LGBTQIA+ children and grandchildren have closeted themselves for fear of ostracism or condemnation. Our God, we know that you know that LGBTQIA+ human beings are spiritual beings, whole beings, who like heterosexual people need you. We pray that all might fully express the gifts that you have given to each of us, so that together we might reflect your light and put it on a lamp stand instead of under a bushel basket. Give us the frame of mind, inspired by your Holy Spirit, to love and include all. We are all working out our soul salvation with fear and trembling,[i] and want to find ourselves in the church so we might serve and honor you. Help us to see, O God, what you see in us.
We are not just our skin color, our features, our language, our gender identity or our orientation, but in the mystery of your Spirit, we are the expression of your creative imagination. O God, we are yours, completely yours, fearfully and wonderfully made.[ii] Guide our actions, may our relationships with all others reflect our love, relationship and allegiance to you. Use us and send us to do your bidding in the world, so all may know You, and none believe they are excluded from Your Grace. In the name of Jesus, who’s marital status was not recorded, who had persons of various identities in his intimate circles, who befriended many who were considered outside of the realm of Grace – and who put his life on the line for it, was killed, but shook off death and rose for our sakes. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Cheryl F. Dudley
American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York
No Soup, But Study meets tonight at 6:00. Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study convenes tomorrow at 10:30. Both will be reading I Corinthians, Chapter 7.