Saturday, January 12, 2013

.how His messages come?.

I'm curled up watching TV with one of "my" families, their teenagers and pre-teen curled up with me, all of us in blankets around the living room. We're watching a show I fell in love with during my college years. It was probably produced around ten years ago, and for the most part the high-schoolers in it seem like they could be teens today.


A focus on one episode is the main character standing up for a friend in chemistry class- because she's being teased for being gay. A "lesbo", specifically.

A couple episodes later, it's not even the main point of the show. "You're gay" is tossed around as a casual insult. Now again, our protagonists never use the term and in fact are shown to be disdainful of those who do. But it was still considered the way kids talked. Those days.

I shift on the sofa, getting uncomfortable. I nudge Mareesa. "Weird, huh? I forgot kids ever talked like that..." She nods. "I know."

I want to say something to protect the twelve-year-old on the floor. What is she thinking, watching this? These words are likely not a part of her daily experience, thank God. I was in high school seven years ago, and we still heard "dyke". I've almost forgotten about the term... But then again, it was never leveled at me.

Two years ago, I stood in my kitchen one winter day, leaning against the counter eating pasta. He'd stopped by to eat with me. I don't remember much about the day, just that I had a long enough gap between family visits to stop at home for lunch, but not long enough to change out of my work clothes.

He was telling me about a story of a Wheaton alumni he'd heard. Honestly, tonight, two years and 2,000 miles away from that kitchen conversation, I can't remember the details of the story. But there was something in it about AIDS. The guy had died of it... Twenty, twenty-five years ago? A Wheaton kid. He hadn't told anyone. Any of it.

He mentioned this to me, then started to go on to the next point- but stopped when he realized that out of nowhere, I had started sobbing. Sobbing. Couldn't see through tears, couldn't catch my breath for crying.

He stared at me.

"Um... Em?"

I tried to breathe, couldn't. Let out another sob.

"I'm just... I'm so... glad... you're not..." Sob. Breathe. Picture the faces I love, then stop because I can't. "...that you're not dying of AIDS."

He laughed a little. "Well, yeah... me too..." Then he caught my eye. And then his eyes filled, too. "Yeah. Me too."

Twenty five years ago. A Wheaton kid. Died of AIDS alone.

Ten years ago, kids who look just like our high-schoolers tossed around "dyke" and "that's gay".

I hear arguments that make sense to me, about sin and righteousness and thoughts that are higher than our thoughts and a just God. I hear arguments that make sense to me about reading within cultural contexts and a wideness in God's mercy and a faith that has always been for the marginalized and despised.

And I see faces. And I imagine those faces being called those names, or lying with those sores on their skin, and then I don't hear or see or think anything. I just feel.

And we can say that those names and those sores are universally considered horrible, that those aren't the same thing as church membership or a wedding where everyone in attendance cries with joy. But they feel the same to me today.

Because ten years ago it didn't startle us to hear dyke or that's gay and twenty-five years ago someone who could have been my friend or your friend died scared and alone. And with every calm, rational argument about Romans 1 I hear, I can not convince myself that withholding an invitation to our table isn't the same thing.

My knowledge of God and my understanding of Scripture swirl around me, seeming to look a little different in any different light, everything I have thought I have known in my short 24 years still susceptible to mood, to cultural bias, the time we live in, the people I've been taught by and those I have loved. HE never changes, never shifts, is the Same yesterday and today and tomorrow. But what about my comprehension of Him?

Our feelings are fallen, the argument goes: no matter how much you love your friends you can't let that make your decision about what's right and true. But aren't our interpretations and our logic fallen as well? Every fear I have of blasphemy or not taking Scripture seriously enough, the frantic cataloguing I do of the Christians I respect and trying to guess who comes out on one side or another and why... that could all be fallen, too.

My desire to be a woman who loves the Word: my picture of that woman, of what she believes and proclaims. Is that so invincible to sin, to confusion, to era?

Huckleberry Finn decided he would just have to go to hell rather than turn Jim in. Joan of Arc's reply to the inquisitor who informed her that her messages were just her imagination: "Of course. That is how the messages of God come."

And for me, the horror I feel at picturing some of the people I love most in the world called a name, suffering alone.... I now believe, that is some of how God speaks to me. I have a strong hunch that in five years, or ten, I would feel that same horror, those same out-of-nowhere sobs, at the thought that they would have a family uncelebrated. A Sunday morning feeling looked at and treated with caution. A Table at which they weren't welcomed.

Maybe basing theology off of a hunch is blasphemy. Or at least really stupid. But then I remember that my loving Him started as a hunch, too.


Anonymous said...

Love you Emmy! Beautiful post, thanks for writing!

Anonymous said...

Wow - so profound.

Eric Muhr said...

Thank you for the prompt. So glad I found time to get over here and read this thing. Plan to share it with others.

Human Needs Global Resources Covenant, 2009

As fellow travelers on this journey, we commit to this covenant before God. Lord, in Your mercy, hear these our prayers:

When confronted with scarcity, need, and inadequacy, may we be nourished by the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation. Abundance overflows from Your table, sustaining all who come in faith. Father, help us.

When monotony blurs our vision and dulls our senses, may we encounter others as Christ did, through intentional presence in daily life, submitting as clay to be formed into vessels filled with the Spirit. Christ, guide us.

When wounded by the fractured condition of Your people, may we be united by Your Lordship in faith, hope, and love; seeing, as through the facets of a diamond, the beautiful spectrum of Your light reflected onto Your holy Church joined in praise. Spirit, empower us.

When all Creation groans, afflicted by injustice and driven to despair, may the promise of redemption root us in the hope of Your Kingdom: "Behold, I am making all things new!"

Holy Trinity, send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve You with gladness and singleness of heart.