Monday, June 15, 2009

rollercoaster of love

[lord help me! i manage to get a weekly email out to our community, but converting it for a blog post and placing it here for the wider world to check somehow eludes me. so now i'm catching up. here is the first of three weeks' worth of blog posts -- may 27, june 2 and june 9. they're somewhat truncated, without the basic community ministry info. just the news that's fit to print.]


Reflections on Family, Holiness, Change and Blessings
What a roller coaster today has been, with tears at every turn! I awakened to the extraordinary news of Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court. The tears started as my Latina sister thanked the President -- son of a single mother -- and honored her own mother, a single mom who raised her and her brother in a Bronx housing project. All this was so much sweeter for me because my mother, Phyllis, raised me and my brother on her own in Kentucky. So my heart was glad.

Then, just a few hours later, my heart broke with the news that California's highest court upheld a ban against marriage equality for gay and lesbian people. I thought of all the gay and lesbian friends and mentors whose relationships and marriages have taught me how to love, how to raise a family, how to put God at the center of a home. I thought of all my gay and lesbian friends and mentors in and from California -- some of whom are reading these words -- who feel they've been swept back to second-class citizenship after a too-brief taste of equality. As a black woman, as a Christian, as an American, my heart aches whenever I see discrimination, especially when the church is at the forefront, reinforcing oppression. I cannot pretend otherwise.

And yet, in the space between these historic events, I found a fledgling hope. NPR interviewed a California pastor who said he opposes marriage equality because "Every child has a right to be raised by two parents, a man and a woman." I looked up, thought, "Ah, my brother, wait!" A mother and a father are wonderful, but they're by no means the only foundation for a strong family. I know it. President Obama and Judge Sotomayor know it, too. Our mothers built non-traditional families that nurtured us, with aunts and uncles, grandparents and neighbors all investing in our well-being. I missed my dad, but I gained so much when the bounds of our family got stretched out. It was a different family, but a family nonetheless.

Likewise, I have seen beautiful, healthy Christian families with two mothers and others with two fathers, and their children are as blessed as any raised by a man and a woman. It's a different blessing, but a blessing nonetheless ... on the children and on me.

I believe my brother pastor wants what's best for children and for families. That's why I hope and pray he will someday experience gay and lesbian and other non-traditional families not as a threat or an unfortunate substitute but as a blessing that enriches his own marriage, his own family, his own Christian journey. That is what they have done for me.

I write knowing some will resonate with my words, while for others they may bring pain, confusion or anger. If you would like to sit down and talk, to share stories or hopes or questions, to explore the different ways we see God moving, I welcome that opportunity to listen and to share. If you don't have that talk with me, find a friend or another Crossing member with whom to have it. Even when we disagree, such conversations make us all stronger. They are a blessing, too.

Walking with you in the light of Christ,
Rev. Steph

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