The Sacredness In Our Lives

photo credit: “Pray” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto,  Parque Nacional da Gorongosa , Moçambique.

photo credit: “Pray” by Rev. Alex da Silva Souto, Parque Nacional da Gorongosa, Moçambique.

Most Sunday mornings, I end up standing at the back of New City’s worship space. I welcome people who come in after worship has started. I make sure the door stays slightly ajar because it locks automatically if pulled all the way shut. From this vantage point, I can see and count who is in the room (at least when everyone is seated, otherwise I’m too short to see much of anything). From this vantage point, I get to watch as people who may have no experience of church or have traumatic experience of church are welcomed into a community in which collective healing and liberation are practiced.

This past Sunday, Tyler H Sit shared an advance copy of what he later posted to Facebook. We had talked about his decision to come out publicly and I had a pretty good sense of what I would hear. I stood, per usual, at the back of the room, listening and watching for how his message was landing with the congregation. And then he said,

“As it turns out, queer people are not simply victims of our times -- we have access to wisdom and compassion in a way that only suffering, that ancient professor, can instruct. We are ready to speak about the sacredness in our lives. If you want to hear about resurrection, ask a queer person about coming out. After all, the tomb and the closet aren’t all that different.”

At this point, I slid to the floor from the force of this truth. THIS! This is the central truth that I’ve been longing to hear and read in various statements of welcome and inclusion from new Methodist movements. Welcome and inclusion are often built on dominant culture norms and fail to center the experiences of those being welcomed. Yet, queer folx and people with other marginalized identities offer transformative gifts of ministry that come from experiencing the liberating love of God in a world that isn’t made for us.

I get to work in multi-religious spaces that are predominantly LGBTQ-led. As I’ve processed my own response to General Conference 2019, I’ve realized how much I’ve taken that fact for granted. My understanding of the nature and character of God has expanded in ways that wouldn’t be possible without this beloved community sharing their sacred stories of love and liberation. Bearing witness to lives transformed by the divine whisper of belovedness in the face of individuals and institutions that seek to harm has made plain for me that transformative leadership comes from the margins.

As Tyler says, “we are ready to speak about the sacredness in our lives.” And there are many who have been speaking about their sacredness for decades, from inside and outside the denominational system. My question is who is ready to really listen now?

Rev. Dana Neuhauser

Rev. Dana Neuhauser