June 30, 2011

New York Pride

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 5:53 pm by a care in the world

personal photo

This past Sunday I had the honor of worshipping at Riverside Church on Pride Sunday. Riverside is home to the oldest continually functioning, church-sponsored LGBTQ organization in the United States, called “Maranatha,” or “The Lord Cometh.” The sermon was a beautiful statement of love, pride, acceptance, and celebration. Friday June 24th (my birthday, in fact), New York lawmakers voted to legalize same-sex marriage (article here). For many of our friends and many in Riverside’s congregation, it was a long-awaited triumph, and the Gay Pride Parade on Sunday was just icing on the cake.

You can read the whole sermon here (and I highly recommend it!!), but one thing that really stuck with me is this: Interim Pastor Rev. Stephen Phelps spoke about Paul’s letter to the Romans, and I quote the pastor here: “‘I am confident in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself,’ Paul wrote. And then he said something that re-set the course of religion: ‘But a thing is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.’ In other words, sin and its destructive power arises from your inner motivations, from your inner condition, not from things in themselves.” So– God does not make anything unclean, it is humans who make things unclean. But Paul also says that it is legitimate for humans to make things unclean, because if you feel something is wrong or unclean, then it is for you. The pastor’s point was that we must accept and have compassion for people who believe homosexuality and gay marriage are “unclean,” because it may be wrong for them. The last thing we should be doing now is turning around and judging or condemning the people who condemned homosexuals. Mathew and Luke both say “Do not judge, and you will not be judged” (Mathew 7:1, Luke 6:37).

I certainly don’t mean to turn this post into a sermon, but as a pastor’s wife, so many things about the serivce struck me because of their inclusivity. I think you could use many of these words with all kinds of congregations of varying beliefs, including the small church we’re headed to in North Carolina. I do want to leave you with a prayer written by Howard Thurman, civil rights leader, from Pride Sunday:

Lord, open unto us.
Open unto us – light for our darkness.
Open unto us – courage for our fear.
Open unto us – hope for our despair.
Open unto us – peace for our turmoil.
Open unto us – joy for our sorrow.
Open unto us – strength for our weakness.
Open unto us – wisdom for our confusion.
Open unto us – forgiveness for our sins.
Open unto us – love for our hates.
Open unto us – thy Self for my self.
Lord, Lord, open unto me. Open unto us.

Hymns included the beautiful and uplifting “In the Midst of New Dimensions” (video not at Riverside)

Words and Music by Julian Rush CCLI #958649.

In the midst of new dimensions, in the face of changing ways.
Who will lead the pilgrim peoples wandering in their separate ways.

CHORUS: God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar.
We your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever more

Through the flood of starving people, warring factions and despair,
Who will lift the olive branches, who will light the flame of care?


As we stand a world divided by our own self seeking schemes,
Grant that we, your global village might envision wider dreams


We are man and we are woman, all persuasions, old and young,
Each a gift in your creation, each a love song to be sung.


Should the threats of dire predictions cause us to withdraw in pain,
May your blazing phoenix spirit, resurrect the church again.


personal photo