I see God alive as the church continues to widen our embrace for all people, especially for LGBTQ people of God.
God is moving, I have no doubt of this.
In the denomination in which I’m ordained, the Reformed Church in America (RCA), I see more churches choosing to follow the way of Jesus and welcome and affirm LGBTQ communities.
As the Room for All board president, I see testimonies of God’s wide embrace every week. With the prophet Isaiah, I exclaim, “See! God is doing a new thing.” Let us not grow weary, church.
I also know there is still much work to do. Too many churches are preaching a pseudo-Gospel, void of Jesus’ loving embrace of all people.
Yes, God is doing a new thing, but as the prophet asks us “Do you not perceive it?”
This is why I am excited about the new short video produced by Jeremy Bork with Room for All called “Room for Me?” In this new video, God is speaking to the church and asking us “Do you not perceive the new thing I am doing?”
26 LGBTQ Christians in the Reformed Church in America settings were interviewed and asked four simple questions about their lives and their faith. Their answers and their testimonies are a gift of God to the church.
The first time I watched the short video I was in tears. Their boldness to share, their celebration of who they are, and their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus is something I find inspiring. They represent varying ages, varying races, and varying degrees of being out.
Anytime someone chooses to share their story, we find ourselves on sacred ground.
The video opens with people responding to the questions What’s it like being you? The responses we hear include: “I am a father.” “I’m clergy.” “I’m a wife.” “I’m a graduate student.” “It’s pretty fantastic!” “I love the Bible.” “I’m a baptized child of God.”
Just after a minute into the video a person with a blurred face and voice altered for anonymity says, “I’ve spent my whole life in service to the church.” My heartstrings were pulled at this moment. We later find out he was born in the 1930s and grew up in the 1940s.
As a pastor, I intuitively knew that choosing to be part of this video was not only a courageous act—it was also part of this man’s own welcome and acceptance of himself.
Another person explicitly states, “Finding Marble Collegiate Church was such a Godsend…It saved my life. It was as if God opened up his arms and said: ‘You are welcomed. I love you. You’re accepted.’”
The question is then asked: “How is the Gospel of Jesus Christ ‘good news’ to you?”
We hear people sharing that the message of Jesus is the message of God’s redemption in the world. Another person exclaims that for queer people, the Gospel of Jesus is good news because it is also resistant to binaries and dualisms. We are reminded from a lesbian minister that what Jesus is about is about love and compassion, not about abuse of power.
In the Collegiate Churches of New York, where I minister, we say the summary of the Gospel is “Love. Period.” And we hear this reflected in the stories. God is love, God loves us, and the Gospel of Jesus calls us to love others.
I was particularly struck by one gay man who said that Christ’s love for all doesn’t mean just straights loving and accepting gays, but it also means gays accepting everyone.
There are powerful possibilities for a new world in Christ’s love.
Next, the 26 LGBTQ Christians have the chance to speak to their denomination when they are asked: “What’s something you wish the RCA understood about you?”
Some responses include: “I just want to be part of the good work the church does, and I want to be part of it in a real way.” “I’m more than just sexuality.” “The church needs to know there are many of us.” “I am a Christian, and I am gay.” “We want the same rights and experiences as our brothers and sisters who are heterosexual.” “I wish the RCA took the time to get to know an LGBTQ person because I think that stories transform lives.”
Fellow church pastors and lay leaders, I encourage you to listen carefully during this portion. These are stories of LGBTQ people who love the church and want to serve God.
The video concludes with hopeful responses to a prompt to fill in the blank: “I am __________.”
The participants radiate hope and joy as they answer.
“I am a child of God.” “I am walking in the light.” “I am loved unconditionally.” “I am willing to serve.” “I am loved and accepted.” “I am grateful everyday I have met that God of amazing grace.” “I am beloved.” “I am home.” “I am light.”
The last person exclaims with a giant smile on her face “I am free!” Yes, dear friends, you are free and beloved!
The video will inspire you, delight you, break your heart, and make it whole again. If you are an LGBTQ Christian, this video will bring you encouragement and the knowledge there are other Christians like you. If you are a minister, you will find wisdom from these 26 interviews on how to faithfully minister to your people. If you are a straight friend or ally, you will celebrate the stories of God’s faithful work in these lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, and queer Christians.
The prophet Isaiah is speaking to us through this video: “Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it spring forth, do you not perceive it?”
May we have the eyes to see, the ears to listen, and the hearts to turn to the God of love as we make room for all in the church of Jesus who is about love.