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VIEWS Time Out
by Rev. Lois McCullen Parr

This article shared 2955 times since Wed Jul 8, 2015
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For everything there's a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.— Ecclesiastes 3

At 57, there are moments I remember watching history being made: President Kennedy's assassination; Dr. King's funeral. I was a child, with my family. My parents explained the gravity, the significance.

As an adult: 9/11. I was a pastor—called to comfort; called to dinner with my Muslim neighbors.

As an adult: President Obama's election. The first campaign I'd worked on in many years—on my Sabbath days I traveled to swing states, working side by side with young Black students who imagined a new world.

Last year I traveled to Ferguson and followed the young queer people of color, leaders of the #blacklivesmatter movement, who lead us to shut down all the freeways into downtown St. Louis.

And recently: marriage equality for our nation.

I'm experiencing it in a kind of dream-like way, sitting at my dining room table in a new home in Albion, Michigan, watching it unfold on social media. I'm with my spouse. We are alternately crying at the funeral of Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston, listening to our President preach about grace, talk about race, and sing.

All afternoon my friends who are LGBTQ and allies are posting photos of their weddings, of themselves on Halsted Street, in dusty rainbow profiles.

For the last six years as a pastor in Boystown, Halsted Street has been my parish. We've worked toward Marriage Equality in Illinois on phonebanks in our church classrooms and up the street at community centers, in Springfield, in press conferences, in clergy gatherings. We've celebrated for our state, screaming together in the parking lot at 7-11 on Halsted and Cornelia the day the legislature voted. Present at Gov. Quinn's signature, singing and dancing in triumph.

Tonight I sit in a friend's basement, ready to leave the country tomorrow from O'Hare, missing the Chicago Pride Parade for the first time in 17 years ( my first as a seminarian; last year, driving the van for the Coalition of Welcoming Churches ).

It's a weird kind of body experience—feeling bereft that I'm not celebrating this moment in LGBTQ history with the people I've had the privilege to serve as pastor for the last six years at Broadway United Methodist Church, people whose weddings I've officiated, people who've been waiting for this day, this victory.

Yet I'm reading about Bree, who climbed a flagpole to take down the confederate flag in the south, whose courage and tenacity is a symbol for the kind of spirit that is rising in our nation that says something's gotta give in our understanding of how racial fear and hatred have shaped the lives of all of us. Those of us who are white, who have access and silent privilege daily, don't see or hear the truth of what our friends of color tell us: it is not safe.

I find it hard to separate these two things in this moment in history—the cartoon that showed the confederate flag coming down and the rainbow flag rising speaks a certain truth about liberty; I think it also gives us hope for a future where "other" does not need to be the source of fear, but an invitation to a wider and deeper revelation of our own humanity.

As a white woman, my own experience of sexism has taught me what it feels like to be invisible or de-valued—to be called "honey" or to get a feel in the elevator; to make 72 cents to a man's dollar; to speak an idea at a meeting only to have it ignored, repeated by a man five minutes later, and then lifted up as his brilliance. Internalized sexism has laid me low.

Today a little kid asked me "are you a girl or a boy?" As a bisexual, queer woman married to a man, my own experience has taught me what it feels like to be invisible and to "pass"—to be assumed straight; to be unafraid to hold the hand of the one I love.

My spouse and I have two sons, two beautiful men who are now adults in a world where they can marry whomever they love. Two beautiful men who text me about the latest Atlantic or Salon article on racism. Two white men whose Black cousins live more carefully and close to home.

It's all roaming around in my head and heart this night—this country of conflicting emotions in these days. Deep and profound sorrow and rage at the sin of racism, the whiteness that isn't held accountable. Deep and profound gladness and unbridled joy at the swift movement of equality under the law for LGBTQ folks.

All of it brings tears, and a heart beating so very loud in my chest.

As I embark on a new phase of ministry, I wonder about the Church I'm called to serve, and the Christ we name as the cornerstone. The kind of boundary-crossing love that Jesus practiced was radical, transforming. Tradition named him "Christ" and made him a King beyond reach; the "Church" took out his humanity, dressed him in an ironed robe and painted him white.

But tonight, in a quiet study, I think of what my Mom & Dad first taught me about a man named Jesus. They used to recite a poem with a part that went something like this:

I heard about a man named Jesus

who was

going about

doing good.

It is very disconcerting to me

that I am so easily satisfied

with just

going about.

And then I hear the words of my President, speaking about Rev. Pinckney: "he was a good man," said the President, "and isn't that what we hope will be said about us?"

So there's something for me about not celebrating this liberty victory with the people I've worked side by side to get to—something that feels murky-good as an ache, actually; a longing that stirs in me that says we aren't done yet.

This article shared 2955 times since Wed Jul 8, 2015
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