This semester has been a bear. Between four classes, ConEd, a new job, and worrying about things like, you know, the trinity and such, I've been busy--and that's just school. Outside of school, my life has had its own roller coaster ride, mostly due to my mother's lymphoma. This semester has been a bear.
But like many hard times, there is an end in sight. I'm less than a week away from the end of classes and two from the end of finals. And this is to my great relief. Maybe then I will be able to take a more realistic survey of what this semester has been and what it has meant.
This week at school has been particularly thought provoking. On Tuesday, our time in Worship to gather at the Table as a community, Sacred Worth (Candler's LGBTQAlly group) mounted their own Day of Silence a few weeks early (this is due mostly to the quadrennial UMC General Conference which is where many of us will be when the National Day of Silence is celebrated). To honor their efforts, Holy Communion was celebrated in silence--complete silence, to remember those who walk this path voiceless and lonely. It was a powerful moment in the life of our school community. As we walked to the table, our intentional silence echoed the silence that the church forces upon LGBTQ students, clergy and friends. As we gathered to celebrate the feast of life, we remembered the death that the church had forced upon its own--the people it claimed from birth as Children of God.
The next day was the Sending Forth Service of Sacred Worth. This service honors those LGBTQ graduating students. As they take the next steps on their journey, they do so with our blessing. We gave each student (who could be open--not all can, thanks UMC) a stole as a parting gift. Then we laid a stole on the altar for the silenced among us--the ones who hadn't even thought about seminary because they didn't think they'd be welcomed, the ones who came then were rejected, for the ones whose gifts would be wasted because the church they loved and dedicated themselves to couldn't move beyond difference into community. Then we celebrated communion--this time with joy and resurrection in our hearts. It was life-giving.
The following day, in my Intro. to Public Worship class, we began our final projects--25 minute worship services. At 830 in the morning, I'm not too keen on worship or shouting or clapping or anything really, but we gathered in the chapel, anyway. The sermon was given in a quick, shoot-from-the-hip, repeat-a-lot style that is very energetic but a little too spunky for an early morning worship. I zoned in and out for a few minutes, then I came to right when I needed to. She was talking about Christ's call for us to go and tell, and the reason we needed to do it was this: "Go and tell for the victory and deliverance of others."
This summed up a struggle I've had this whole semester. When is being gay part of who are or who you are? After not being all that involved with LBGTQ activism and after taking a job at a church where I can't really be open, I was reminded why it's important that I be both of those--involved and open. Because silence isn't OK. Because I've fought long enough for my voice. Because others deserve the victory and deliverance that I've tasted. Because it is what Christ would have me do.