This story may especially resonate with my Pentecostal/Charismatic brothers and sisters much more than the general public. The last few weeks have been so busy! Summer has set in (thank God no polar vortex anytime soon), Twin Cities Pride has past, and plans for more upcoming events are in my scope. On the flipside it has been a scary past few weeks. The largest massacre since 9/11 on American soil at a gay nightclub, continued legislation and chatter in preparation for a feisty election season, and a terrorist bombing in an airport I am all too familiar. To say that my emotions have been on a roller coaster would be an understatement.
This upcoming August will mark my 1 year anniversary in coming out and being true to myself, family and loved ones. I never would have imagined the day where I didn’t have to hide, didn’t have to suffer, and didn’t have to forsake faith to continue my life’s journey. Lastly I never would have believed I would end up in a liturgical affirming church and promoting queer inclusion and events for young adults in the Twin Cities (quick plugin for our Facebook: CommonPlace Twin Cities). God has certainly been at work in my heart and challenging me in new ways, which have only deepened my love and desire for Him to rule in my heart.
I really haven’t had much of a chance to sit down and process all of the news and events that have been going on. Much like everyone else it hits hard and there starts a process each of us go through to figure out what to do next. I never wanted to be that queer adult that threw gay rights and politics in people’s faces, but I knew that I couldn’t be silent to the very real threat that faces my brothers and sisters in the queer community (I use queer as the umbrella for all lgbtq+ people). We hurt because we are people, we comfort as Christians because it is what Jesus taught us. When we enter the kingdom of Heaven there is no difference. It is God as the head and His children, called by His name who partake in that eternity. That is it. The plain. Simple. Gospel.
On Sunday evening my church held its annual Pride Celebration Service, where we affirmed and blessed the queer community present. Last year I attended this event quietly in the back, hoping to not be noticed, and snuck out afterwards and headed back to my “normal” life. This year I was a full participant, even partaking as the “elements bearer” who’s responsibility is to carry the Eucharist from the entrance to the high altar (look at me using fancy liturgical words!) As I began walking to the high altar, the choir began their angelic chant, every priest stood up, and then it happened. I made eye contact with someone in particular who has been such a leader and encourager during the past several months. We locked eyes, smiled at each other, winked and in that moment I had never felt the presence and love of God active in my life. It was nothing that the pastor had done or said, it was simply the sweet assurance of the Holy Spirit confirming in my life I was exactly where God needed me to be. Goosebumps settled in as they all too familiar did during “holy ghost” meetings of old. As a former Pentecostal, I like many others have had many callings in life. At first it was church planting, then it was missions, then it was teaching, and now it is reaching the queer community. For 8 years I struggled with the thought of “not fulfilling” my calling. When I left my non-affirming faith community I was heartbroken that what I thought I was supposed to do would forever be gone, and that I was letting God down and in a sense being Jonah and ignoring God to go my own way.
But that was clearly spoken differently to me on this day. During my procession to the altar and carrying the Eucharist, it was evident that God had much more in store for me to do, and that I am in the center of His perfect will. While some may question the validity or theology of this experience, I cannot help but recognize what the Lord is doing in me, and has planned for me. This is my testimony, this is my faith experience, this is what the Lord has done. Emotions have been high the past few weeks. Fear and anxiety, stress and discomfort. But I am constantly reassured by our wonderful Father that where He has me is where He has wanted me from the beginning. I’m far from perfect, and my devotional life certainly could be more than it has. But God will help rekindle this fire and relationship as I continue to understand my place and purpose in the life He has given and the time He has set before me. Amen.