Sunday, 3 October 2010
Increase Our Faith And Respect For Each Other.
Increase Our Faith And Respect For Each Other.
By Rowland Jide Macaulay @ Metropolitan Community Church East London
3rd October 2010
The Gospel reading Luke 17:5-6 set the tone for the message today, increase our Faith.
5 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ 6The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a* mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you”.
How do we increase our faith and respect for each other? Let me leave that question there in your heart and come back to this later.
In the UK the month of October is dedicated to Black History Month celebrated every year. The aims are to promote knowledge of Black History and experience, disseminate information about culture and history of the Black people. There is no doubt that Black people have made many contributions worth celebrating, but we must be mindful of the few Black people who are also causing havoc. What I know is that we all, regardless of race and gender can make a difference in this world. We can increase our faith and respect by standing up against ALL that is evil and unjust.
We may ask what has this got to do with the sermon today, we may ask what has this got to do with my salvation, faith and respect. It has so much to do with it, because our history needed to change from the history of victims to victors, from fear to favour, enslavement to empowerment. There is so much our community need to learn from the Black History. We have often found parallels with the “struggle and fight against racism” with “the struggle and fight against homophobia and transphobia”.
Black History month cannot be complete without Queer or LGBT History, Black History cannot be complete with ALL people’s history, the history of the oppressed cannot be complete without the oppressor, no one speaks about slaves or slavery without the slave masters.
When Habakkuk said, O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? It sends a message that is recognisable from the Black community who were enslaved because of their blackness to the gay community who are ostracised because of who they are, from London to Lagos, New York to Kampala.
When I examined the Habakkuk Oracle, this is what I found, a strange and endearing similarity between the Black people’s struggle and the LGBTI people’s struggles.
We asked the same questions and face the same issues over all these years, from Biblical times to 21st century days. I don’t have all the answers but I am hoping that my sermon today can lead all of us to some answers.
Let me share five points with you today.
1) O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you Violence!’ and you will not save?
What Black History month did for us is to teach us the way to face our struggles as a people, first it was about racial discrimination, but now it is discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, I cannot believe that any religious body will be a part of the hate campaign, I would have thought that the Religious communities will be at the centre of healing, reconciliation and welcoming for all people, but I was wrong,
Brothers and sisters, Cry no more, because your salvation has come. The answer for me and for you is in Colossians 3:9-11, which says Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11In that renewal* there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!
2) Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble?
We are faced daily with wrongdoings and we steer trouble in the face daily. LGBTI people all over the world live in fear every day. Many times when we step out to help others and speak against injustices, we become the problem, in many societies people who are seen as “Human Right Defenders” are often those who look at trouble in the face. What are we doing today to save guard the future of our community?
I received a message from the LGBT centre in New York, which reads “Our Hearts are heavy” the back drop to the message is that six teenage gay and lesbian children have in the last few weeks and months committed suicide because they were bullied for who they are, we need to face wrongdoing, not just for our sake but for the future LGBT generation. I am angry at the fact that there is continued renewal of hate not just towards us but also within us. We are not sharing the message wide enough, we are not raising the bar of LGBT role modelling, the message of love and inclusion is lapsing, we need to create a climate where young LGBT people can be free and be themselves, children should be playing not harming themselves or driven to such harm by bullies.
3) Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
There is no doubt that there will be some destruction and violence, there will be strife and contention, people will disagree with us, our theology will not be the favourite one to listen to or to handle, it was the same with the Black theologians, there were opposition. Queer theology is scary for many, because not everyone fits into the same shoe, we seldom sing from the same song sheet. Christianity is a price to pay, it is radical and we have to take the message out there for many millions who not just hate us but for those who might just be saved. Rev Troy D Perry’s Coming Out as a Gay Christian leader in the 1960s saved millions of LGBT people, we also need to do our part. Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr and many other Black theologians in history have played their part in the emancipation of Black people and Black theology. Reverend Solomon S. Seay, former head of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in the United States of America and also a civil rights campaigner alongside Reverend Dr Martin Luther King Jr, said following a fight for equal rights for African American during the Montgomery bus boycotts “If a person doesn’t want to sit beside me because I am dirty, that is my fault. If a person doesn’t want to sit beside me because I am loud, that is my fault too, but if the person doesn’t want to sit beside me because I am black, that is not my fault because God made me black” I dare to add to this note that “If a person doesn’t want to sit beside us because we are Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transsexuals and Intersex people, then we need to know that it is not our fault, God made us Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual and Intersex people”
It is time for us to increase our faith, action and respect and do something we have never done before. Save a life, save our own lives.
4) So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails.
The laws are too slow to recognise the discrimination, the interventions are bureaucratic, policy makers makes endless promises, but we can make a difference, that is why we have voices, we can speak out, write articles, consider joining a campaign for what is right, I am sure that when people started the discussion about ending slavery, it certainly did not start amongst Black people, because largely they were not responsible for the big ship and the voyage, but I believe that people in our history both Black and White made this happen.
Many days of my life, I was victimised on the grounds of sexual orientation, with faith I have risen to a place where I not only celebrate who I am, Child of the living God, but also work with others, on the journey to reconcile, I have stood in many places challenging governments to change discriminatory laws against LGBT people, from Cameroon to Comoros, Iran to Iraq, Kuwait to Qatar, Guinea to Lesotho.
When we teach, let us speak out against injustice, because if we don’t we only prolong the pain of future generation. I say today that I do the things I do today, not because I see the benefits for me, but I do them because I dream of the benefits for future generations, I want history to record that at least I tried. Brothers and sisters, what will be in your legacy?
5) The wicked surround the righteous— therefore judgement comes forth perverted.
The wicked people are very very powerful, they will suppress the truth. We spend too much time in accusation, when people in politics and religion stand up, to uphold discrimination, my heart bleeds, when the proposals were drawn to end slavery there was violence, there was an attempt to pervert justice. The same is happening today in our world, we must not seat back and allow people Religious or not to judge us for who we are, the Bible says in Jeremiah, Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; Isaiah confirmed “Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who by myself spread out the earth.”
Many millions of people are threatened by the actions of the ignorant few, families are scattered, there is a surge in suicidal tendencies and the health of the people declined.
I take refuge in the word of God, I am not stubborn, but I refuse to allow the negativity of these ignorant actions to get through my heart, mind and skin. It is not an easy place to be, however, when people ask me where in the scriptures does it say that God loves or indeed creates homosexual, I want to let you know that the Bible points to more verses of inclusion than exclusion. God is responsible for LGBTI people and it is only God that can love us as we too are the original imprint of God’s love and never a secondary group of people.
Hebrew 11:1-3, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2Indeed, by faith* our ancestors received approval. 3By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.*
What are we hoping for? a world that will accept us and not kill or dehumanise LGBT people. Even though we have not seen justice we must begin to celebrate the freedom and liberation, just like our ancestors. If we believe by faith that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, then we must begin to live and love who we are, even though we may be invisible to the other inhabitants.
Let me conclude with Paul’s letter to Timothy, which says I am grateful to God—whom I worship with a clear conscience, as my ancestors did—when I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4Recalling your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy. 5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 6For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; 7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline. 8 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace.
I recognise that calling in you today, I recognise that calling in Michael Jackson who has gone before us. Black History month is about our ancestors, the joy, the liberation, the pain, the injustices, we must today bring a change to the world we live in. Michael Jackson in one of his many revolutionary songs sang about healing the world, make it a better place.
There's A Place In Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try
You'll Find There's No Need To Cry
In This Place You'll Feel
There's No Hurt Or Sorrow
Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me
In order to increase our faith we need to step out of the shadow of fear and work against all the injustices, we need to be comfortable with who we are, not what people want us to be or say we are. The gospel reading is a response that we can do anything if we have faith. The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a* mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea”, and it would obey you.
As we seek reconciliation we would be empowered knowing that God’s love was given to us when we were formed in our mother’s womb, and this is how we increase our faith and respect for each other.
God bless you. God bless our universe, Amen.