Tis the season! Those of us in ministry have spent this Advent rallying our minds, hearts, and spirits to find celebratory tones of hope.
I fear that much like our march towards resurrection, without wanting to look at the harsh and ugly realities of state and religious violence that took Jesus to the cross, we want to celebrate the birth of Jesus without dwelling on the lives and circumstances of his coming.
I need to make it personal, just like my relationship with Jesus.
I need the hope, but very little that I see makes me believe it is coming. My heart is broken by the cruelties that so many of my sisters suffer at the hands of violent men. My spirit bleeds at the despair and depression that elevates suicide on the list of alleviating options. My blood boils at each incidence of taunting, bullying and abuse of those assumed to be different.
The powers of the ruling class and its representatives are relentless and cunning. Those who are the most adamant about removing any legislative or judicial protections are joined to me in the body of Christ. We are connected by the long tendons of belief and each hold that our positions are a delight to the heart of God.
My religious tribe is cozy and complicit. We celebrate our hard fought victories, understandably. But we turn away from those are yet left in the margins of the margins. We’ve assimilated and find ourselves embarrassed and/or annoyed by the queer, quirky, non-monogamous, non-marriage supporting, non-Abrahamic, the fat, the old, the ones who won’t make a good cover photo or story.
We use the language that has for decades been used against us. We want people to cover up, clean up, tidy up, calm down, stand still, be patient, be quiet, and go away. We fear that “they” will mess up our good deal. We are having grandma’s church—only now it’s gay.
We’ve escaped our old closets and dressed ourselves in bland, neutral tones of “we’re just like you.”
My village-mates are trudging to our ritual as much out of fear of reputation if they don’t as out of deeply heartfelt observance. We’ve forgotten that those who first greeted our Savior came from distant places, unafraid to follow the stars, willing to listen to unreasonable voices from entities that were not human.
How then should I be preparing for this observance? How might I be completely present in my body—my fat, black, queer, non-monogamous, trans body? What star is leading me, and where is it taking me? What are the ancestors and spirits whispering into my soul? How might I prepare my heart to be shelter and haven for the coming of Christ—his humanity and his godliness?
I began my Advent season by revisiting the mystery of Christ and the stories of his people. I have turned inward to find the source inside me—the small, still voices that speak not only of peace but also of preparedness for battle. I look outside of my self—to the skies, to nature—for guidance and grounding.
And I commit to loving myself.
I commit to seeing myself not as a compilation of imperfections, but as a unique, beautifully formed example of the love of the Great Creator.
I allow myself to see the God in you—to believe one more time that our connectivity is more important than our locations in the Body, to believe that our journeys have divine purpose and that the outcome will be grace, love and mercy.
And I remember that the hope of my salvation was born in a place that was humble, dank, smelly, earthy, raw and ideal for its purpose.
Photo by clappstar via flickr