On September 11th, we met for our sixth gathering as the group now called “The Flame”. After lighting a candle, we began with the opening that reminds us that everyone is welcome. It seemed particularly appropriate for this gathering based on the readings we discussed that night.
As a new group, our time together is starting to develop a rhythm. After some ice-breakers and check-ins, we have conversations around the gospel text for the day (from the revised common lectionary). We add other readings too, seeking to incorporate other voices and poetry, particularly from the experiences of the LGBTQIA community and people of color.
On Sunday, we read Jesus’ parables about the lost sheep and lost coin from the gospel of Luke, and a poem by Ted Loder. We also read an excerpt from a blog by Phoebe VanCleefe with a challenging title, but important message. She explores how “loving the sinner, but hating the sin” is a destructive philosphy in her life. The healthier course is to love ourselves and love fully: Loving the Sinner, and Hating the Sin; A Guide to Self Loathing and Repression
The gospel text for the day talks about how God is like the shepherd who sought out his lost sheep, and also like the woman who sought out her lost coin. (I love the gender balance in the images of God). Upon searching extensively and finding that which was lost, they brought the community together to rejoice.
We wanted to clear the air that even though the gospel text also talks about sin and repentance, this in NO WAY is referring to our sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
I shared that, for me, the Luke passage is about God’s exuberant, passionate, crazy love for us no matter what, and how God seeks to restore community, and relationships. God rejoices when we remove the barriers we put up between ourselves, when we no longer have an “us” and a “them”.
There is room for everyone in God’s wide, loving embrace. This is what we try to live out in The Flame.
In gratitude for each of you,
Intern & Vicar