Tonight I fully intended to go hear Barbara Brown Taylor speak, but I needed a meal. And, here I am (10:10 PM to be exact) finding myself drawn to write.
On Sunday I heard a sermon which spoke to using lent as a time to pursue God’s calling and leaning into discerning our purpose. It was a part of a bullet point examination regarding our desire, calling and identity.
And as those words were being spoken, I was thinking about how the very space I was sitting in has denied my desire, calling and identity.
- Desire – To love Jesus, people and God’s creations in ministry
- Calling – To become a pastor
- Identity – A queer, non-binary Christian
In this sermon calling = “why are you here?”
When I visited Columbia Theological Seminary last fall for their preview day I sat in a circle along with others gathered from across the country to discuss “calling.”
There were no lines in the sand of who was called by God or who hadn’t quite passed the test of worthiness – no, this was giving space for each individual to share their transcendent experiences with God.
Every story was unique, varied in experience, and reflected the multitude of ways the spirit inside of us moves our “why are we here” questions.
It’s in sharing that we embody the spirit of God – a dwelling instilled in us by Jesus. We are relationship people and we’re meant to share with one another.
As a queer person, I’ve heard the many tell me my calling does not come from God. My calling is a fictional display of my imagination. My calling is a separation of reality. And, I’ve had those behind close doors tell me I have gifts – but deny me the relationship of sharing them.
We are relational people for a reason.
The Holy Spirit is a gift given to all of humanity (Andrew Root, “The Relational Pastor”) opened for all persons to share in God’s life through God’s reconciling work. Accessing the Spirit allows us to share in life with our neighbors – it provides us empathy to understand one another. And, we are free to choose whether or not to be an active participant in relation & understanding.
If the fruit of the Spirit is love, patience and kindness – then our relations are about shared lives; sharing callings.
We are to be for one another as God is for us in Spirit.
Despite all work to learn every verse used against me or the best way to enter a conversation with someone ramped up in their defense against my person – I remain hopeful. Because of the holy work of empathy in the Spirit.
This doesn’t mean I expect a fast movement of change in those who deny my calling whether in public spaces or in secrecy – it means that the Spirit is good and there are many choosing to live in shared calling with each other.
Every moment that an ally steps forward, I truly think Jesus weeps. Every moment a queer person decides to not step away from the Spirit’s prompts to do ministry, I truly think Jesus rejoices. Every moment we allow God’s people to be a people of a shared body we move ever so closely to our relational, kin-ship for a kin-dom for all people.
So, as far as calling goes I’ll keep this spiritual practice active for the entirety of my life. And this good fruit will keep leaning into empathy, relations and showing up as a visible beacon of the bold inclusiveness of God’s gracious love.