Every one of us had to trust in God’s grace and mercy, in a strength and determination that were beyond ours. If we have known blessings, we didn’t earn them. God loved us before we knew we needed loving.
I didn’t know my part of the song as well as I would like. But I knew my history. I knew that when a Spirit-filled alto began to weep, she was weeping for all of us. When our soprano soloist soared higher and higher, she was carrying all our praises.
When I gave my best, it was my best, not a comparison with anyone else, just my best for the God who has “seen me through.”
Shortly after we sang, more than 40 people from Park Avenue Christian Church took their places in the massive 2012 Pride March down Fifth Avenue. Again, stereotypes faded away. People weren’t wondering who was gay and who was straight. They saw hands joined in a cry for freedom, justice, dignity and respect.
This march, like its counterparts in other cities, wasn’t about sex, but about people with lives and loves, trials and triumphs — in short, people whom God has chosen to love.
Seems to me that the horrendous ugliness of this year’s political campaigns is a last-ditch effort to install hatred on the throne. The strategy: defend the negative stereotypes, defend the bad theology, defend the religious leaders who ought to know better and defend intolerance as a national cause — all of it egged on by wealthy bigots whose goal, inevitably, is gaining more wealth.
I say it’s last-ditch because times are changing. Younger citizens are emerging for whom homophobia is a bizarre perversion of reality. People are seeing beyond Fox News hysteria.
Whether the greedy can seize the throne in time to do one more looting of the nation remains to be seen. Hatred and bigotry might prevail in November and then do the damage to freedom, rights and justice that they fully intend to do.
But I sense the days of this darkness are numbered. Even conservative religionists realize they can’t build a godly enterprise on bigotry and greed. Hating gays just isn’t a cause that inspires. The good hearts and good souls that occupy most pews in America won’t follow discredited Catholic hierarchs or venomous hard-core preachers down the path to demagoguery. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan might be scoring points with a medieval pope by his alarmist screeds, but the immigrants who keep his church afloat have other concerns.
Do “sunny days” lie ahead? Not likely. But as culture wars are set aside, maybe we will have the energy and heart to tackle real issues, like unemployment, massive greed, religious extremism and a dangerous world.
From a faith perspective, this will happen because God simply isn’t into hatred. God is love, and that love doesn’t follow the dictates of human fears. God is about mercy, justice, forgiveness and oneness. In the end, so must creation follow God’s lead.
(Tom Ehrich is a writer, church consultant and Episcopal priest based in New York. He is the author of “Just Wondering, Jesus” and founder of the Church Wellness Project. His website is www.morningwalkmedia.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @tomehrich.)
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