Sunday, November 6, 2016

Living Authentically: A Sermon by an LGBT Youth

by Tai Amri Spann-Wilson (aka Baby Pastor)

I hope you came to church today to be inspired by the messages and experiences of our StillSpeaking Youth Group from their trip to Florida for the National Youth Event that this church and denomination helped make possible. I want to say a few words about why what they do is so important.

When Alanna Naledi was born, Pastor Caela felt so excited to first meet her. I thought that she just wanted to see a cute baby, but as she held her in her arms, she looked into her eyes and said, "I know you are being born into a crazy world, so maybe you came into this world to help fix it." I believe that it is the hope for every young person in our midst from every adult that they will be agents of change. And young people, on behalf of all of us adults, I'm sorry. This is not the world we hoped for you. A world where presidential elections look more like reality television. A world where, for more fossil fuels, governments spend trillions of dollars and are willing to risk earthquakes and climate change. A world where states are willing to lose millions of dollars just to decide who gets to use what bathroom. A world where Black people still have to create mass movements to prove that their lives matter. I also don't believe that this is the world that G-d wants for us.

I know that in today's world it is hard to believe in G-d. How could there be a G-d when there is so much suffering, so much injustice, a world where there is teething? (Well at least that's what I stay up late at night wondering about.) And then I look out into the eyes of young people, and then those young people open their mouths and speak words I never imagined, and I say, "Oh, that's how." You see, I don't really believe in a dude up in the sky looking down on us. I don't believe G-d has any body, but ours, I don't believe G-d has any voice, but ours, I don't believe G-d has any hands, but ours. So when people say why does G-d allow evil, I say, because we do. When people say, when will G-d come and create a world of justice? I say, when we do. That is why, young people, when I look at you, I see G-d, in G-d's strongest, most creative, most energetic form. That is why, when you speak, I hear hope. Speak to us now, we need your hope.

Memories of a Lifetime
By Dean Kinderknecht

LGBT youth and their allies are confronted almost daily with messages of hate and misunderstanding. We are marked with a scarlet letter, called terrible names, given dirty looks, and preached at with messages of hatred. In sending us to the National Youth Conference, you as a congregation gave us a chance to feel normal.
One of the classes that I personally gained the most from was a course called “How Not to Use the Bible as a Weapon”. We were taught how through the power of interpretation the same passages that are used often to hurt the LGBT community can be deduced to take on completely different meanings & just how wrong it is to use the Bible as a way to hurt others. I felt so uplifted by the messages of love and acceptance. I felt proud of who I am, and empowered to go after what I have always wanted. Leaving our session that day I had the courage to change my life. As was said in today’s first reading:

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;

Although I have been living authentically to most everyone in my life for the past couple of years, I have long avoided coming out to my biological dad. I wasn’t sure when, or if, I would ever have the strength to do so. His love for me & my sister has always been complicated, at best; my father is conservative and not the easiest person to talk to. I have been plagued with nightmares of how he would take the news for so long, and it has never been a happy thought. My father has always been very vocal in his hatred of those who don’t share his belief system and for the LGBT community & I knew this was going to be a make-it-or-break-it discussion.
Sailing into this moment on my waves of borrowed courage I texted him. “Hi, it’s Emily. I have to tell you that I go by the name Dean, not because of some nickname, but because I identify as male and I am pansexual, which means if I was in a relationship I would like them for their personality not gender. And I was born this way and it cannot be changed. That’s all I wanted to say and I hope that you will accept me and love even though I know you disagree with me. Thank you and bye”.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;

Then, terrified of what his reaction might be I turned off my phone before he could respond, and took a deep breath. I was shaking from the anticipation but my Still Speaking friends came to my aid. I didn’t know how the day would end, but I felt much better knowing that they were there for me. I went on with my day as scheduled.
Finally, at break I checked my messages. He said he already knew and he loved me anyway. I didn’t know how to feel. I was relieved it was done; I wanted to believe his support was there, but it felt strangely empty. I called my mom and talked it out, wrapped myself in the energy of my friends and sighed. I knew that my life was changed & I was finally free.
This event was life changing in so many ways for so many kids. I know I was just one of many and I thank you all for this opportunity to do so.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;

He truly was and he still is.

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