Let Your Light Shine

On this New Year’s Eve & 8th night of Hanukkah, this Episco-Bapt-onite Christian sees the intersection of faith & public life coming together in new ways. Just 20 days from now, the world will witness a man sworn in as President of the United States who has no qualms playing Russian Roulette with nuclear arms & whose very presence encourages violence against minorities of every type. I am deeply troubled by this reality, but perhaps even more so, I am troubled by a global shift namely in parts of Europe and the United States. A shift that embraces anxiety & scarcity more than embracing neighbor.

 

On this New Year’s Eve I feel worried that the world I have always known is moving toward an irreversibly violent & intolerant reality. What can be done?

 

I’m not sure what can be done, but I will light candles.

 

I will light a candle with the hope that if I increase my external light, then my internal light of hope that is dimmed with each headline & threat will be reminded of truths.

 

I will light a candle when hope in the midst of these troubling times feels like too much to ask for, so that the Inner Light’s voice will be more clear to me than anything else.

 

The story of Hanukkah is a story of miracles & identity. The Jewish Maccabees were unlikely victors in their struggle. The Maccabees were targeted as a minority group by the Greeks who were hellbent on destroying them. A menorah or chanukiah during the festival of Hanukkah is traditionally displayed near a window.

 

To light the menorah is to stick it to the man by saying- light lives here & my Light will not be intimidated.

 

Let your Light shine.

 

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Open Letter to Lake Shore

Dear Pastor Kyndall and Lake Shore Baptist Church,

 

I greet you in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

I came to you in 2013 as a closeted seminarian and you welcomed me and my leadership. I was tight lipped about how and who I loved because of the same oppressive forces at work that have delayed your public affirming statement.

 

To come out as LGBTQ and to come out as an ally are significant tasks and a significant burden. You may not feel the relief of such a burden for some time until perhaps one Sunday you can’t remember a time before LGBTQ individuals and families were fully free to be as out as they want in your congregation and community.

 

To come out is no small task. Questions and anxiety about the future rain on the internal rainbow parade. As Ecclesiastes 3 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” You have discerned well to recognize this is a season requiring boldness- speaking up and speaking out.

 

You will likely be on the receiving end of harassment, threats, protests, black-listings, and other expressions of aggressive disagreement by those who would want you to doubt your faith and your confidence in choosing inclusion over exclusion. Woe to anyone who attempts to close a door that God intends to be open. If the Bible is clear about anything, it is clear about God’s love being grand enough to accept all people- even those who chose to create a harshly exclusionary God rather than the true God of love. You are not divisive. You are inclusive.

 

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” [1John 4:7-8]

 

I am proud of you and this significant milestone toward being the loving presence of Christ as we are called to be. Remember that adopting a statement is a milestone in a much longer process. I urge you to continually ask yourself how you can actively and proactively love the LGBTQ community. To paraphrase Don Bosco, it is not enough to love the LGBTQ community; they must know that they are loved through ongoing action.

 

I urge you continue to ask who else is missing from the Table as you gather. Where are other areas of growth for inclusion? How can Lake Shore continue to more clearly reflect the Kin’dom of God?

 

May you continue to faithfully and justly live the greatest commandments- love God and love neighbor. I am more proud than ever to have worked with you and I am thankful to know you. I love who you are becoming. I am thankful for your witness.

 

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” [1 Corinthians 13:13]

 

Shalom,

Rev. Erica Lea

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