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June 23, 2019

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LGBTQ Pride Month decoration outside Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. 
"This Guy Offered 'Free Dad Hugs' At A Pride Parade And People Really Needed Them" via BuzzFeed News. "I’ve had so many parents reach out to me saying they’ve been crying for days, saying they’ve been those parents, and they’ve reached out to their children they haven’t talked to in years," said Dittman, who offered the hugs at the Pittsburgh pride parade. 
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." -- Philippians 4:4-9
Amidst all of the pain and suffering of the world, I'd humbly request that we give a prayer of thanksgiving to God today for the ways in which God's spirit is moving through LGBTQ pride celebrations this month.  

Over the past 24 hours, I saw photos of my mom marching in the Houston Pride parade with a group from the Methodist church where I learned about Jesus, was baptized and confirmed. I heard a sermon at my Baptist church in Louisville that brought to my attention the story of this man offering "free dad hugs" at Pittsburgh Pride. Both the photos and the sermon reminded how important parents are to the movement for LGBTQ affirmation. My own parents support in coming out made the journey immeasurably easier on me and I know the immense pain hateful parents cause their LGBTQ children. 

Did you know the first meeting of PFLAG (originally known as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) in 1973 was held at the Methodist church in New York City now known as Church of the Village? I didn't until I saw a plaque on the church one day when I was walking by in New York City. While there is obviously a dominant narrative of Christian-backed LGBTQ hate, there is a long history of LGBTQ acceptance and celebration that goes back as long as the entire LGBTQ rights movement in the United States. I give thanks to God for these churches that embraced the dignity of all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity even before the rest of society. 

While I believe we are called as Christians to point out the horrible atrocities in the world, we are equally called to highlight whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable. We are called to shout out what is excellent or praiseworthy—and think about such things. Parents who welcome LGBTQ children, churches that welcome LGBTQ members, and lawmakers who advance LGBTQ rights are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  Let us think about such things this month!
Make your support for LGBTQ people visible this Pride Month! In the photo for today's post, I shared a photo from my former church in Washington D.C. Every year they decorate the church in a rainbow flag. There are other ways you can make your support visible, such as posting on social media or telling someone you know who is LGBTQ that you love them. Take one concrete action today!
Adapted from the Pride Sunday blessing I wrote for Highland Baptist Church in Louisville last year:

God, in the beginning, You created each of us in Your own image, bestowing on us a divine-sense of dignity that no human evil can diminish. When we rebelled against Your vision of equality and created systems of oppression, You sparked a revolution of the oppressed through Moses and set Your people free. You raised up judges to protect the vulnerable and gave prophets the words to critique rulers, systemic sin, and proclaim Your vision for just and inclusive societies.  

In the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, we have a perfect example of Your love for all people without exception and what happens when such a radical shock rocks a religious community: the conservative establishment enforced the status quo and put Jesus to death. Yet death was not the final word, as the resurrected Jesus stands today as the ultimate symbol of life conquering death and the limits of empire over divine justice. Thousands of years later, companions of Jesus in our own nation have taken up this call to justice by continuing salvation history by putting our faith in action to join social movements to abolish slavery, liberate women, and promote economic fairness. 

Now this month we, we join this work of co-creating a more just and sustainable world with God by celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month. With every step, every smile, every brightly colored t-shirt, we not only proclaim Your limitless love but actively sabotage the evil work of fundamentalists active in our nation. Amen.

Pour out your spirit, O God, on every reader of this newsletter, who have responded to your call and declared “Here I Am, Lord.” Give all of us a spirit of joy and compassion as they serve as the hands and feet of Your Church. Amen. 
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