"True Colors: A Celebration of LGBT Spiritual Gifts"

Uploaded by centexmcc on 02.10.2011

Today's readings are two excerpts from St. Paul's letters to a couple of early Christian churches –
one in Rome and the other in Corinth.
In both of these excerpts, Paul is talking about some character traits known as spiritual gifts.
Neither list is meant to be exhaustive.
In each letter he recognizes certain gifts within the community and he describes them.
In both letters, the point is not to say, "Here are these particular spiritual gifts; so which ones do you possess?"
The point is that, although people are diverse, although they may be gifted in many different ways, they are still unified through the Spirit of God.
To the people in Rome, he points out gifts that include generosity and compassion.
And to the Corinthian church he highlights the gifts that were prevalent there, such as something known as speaking in tongues, as well as gifts of healing.
It wasn't until I became a part of MCC churches that I heard very much at all about spiritual gifts.
But it was during my own membership class that I completed a survey that is known as a Spiritual Gifts Inventory.
The idea behind the inventory is that, depending upon how a person responds to the questions, the survey will reveal what spiritual gifts she or he may possess.
And this knowledge will help plug the person into the church ministry that best suits their gifts.
The problem with most inventories is they are limited to the gifts that Paul highlighted within his letters to the Roman and Corinthian church.
But there is no set list of spiritual gifts, nor is there any authoritative survey which will reveal those gifts.
So I got to thinking: What if Paul’s collection of letters included one to MCC churches?
If Paul were going to highlight our own spiritual gifts in order to point out that, as diverse as we may be,
that there are "varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit," which gifts would he call forth?
Which gifts within our community would highlight our true colors?
Actually, I’ve thought about this for several years and looked high and low for a spiritual gifts inventory for LGBT Christians, with no success. So I may just have to develop my own.
This morning I want to point out some of the biblical role models who possessed gifts which have become characteristic of the LGBT community.
Gifts which God has blessed us with. Gifts which, not only reveal our true colors, but which also add color to the world in which we live and love.
And so one of the first gifts I mention is what I call the gift of style or the gift of fashion,
with Joseph, the son of Jacob, being our biblical role model.
In the 37th chapter of Genesis we read about Joseph wearing a coat of many colors, a rainbow-colored coat.
A coat which he was very proud of, which he probably twirled around in, in front of his siblings.
His rainbow-colored coat became his trademark.
Joseph was someone with style, probably setting all kinds of fashion trends among the neighbors, to the irritation and displeasure of his brothers.
It's common knowledge that the members of the LGBT community are the fashion trendsetters.
Outlandish at first, the style is usually picked up by the community-at-large.
Being a child of the 70s and 80s myself, I remember, ripples of scandal when gay men began wearing pieced rings in their ears. In public, no less!
And now, look. And the same went for lesbians and their flannel shirts and Birkenstock shoes.
Elton John may have thought he was fooling some people back in the 70s, but his sequins and feathers sent only one message to those of us in the LGBT community,
which was: he was one of our own.
Style and fashion is a gift. I would even go so far as to say it's a spiritual gift.
Whether the gift comes in the form of leather, a kilt, a tasteful evening dress, an over-sized flannel shirt, or tight and revealing flashy clothes,
style and fashion are ways to celebrate who we are as a people. It’s a gift of the LGBT community.
Another gift which we possess is what I call the gift of improvisation and creativity.
And the unnamed Ethiopian eunuch in the 8th chapter of the Book of Acts seemed to posses this gift.
As the story goes, he was traveling down a wilderness road which led from Jerusalem, when he encountered Philip the evangelist.
After hearing the good news of God's inclusive love, and unwilling to wait until they got to a suitable baptismal pool to be baptized in the traditional way,
the eunuch spotted some water and said, "Let's break tradition and do it here!" "In the middle of the desert? With no witnesses?"
"Yes, right here, right now! It will be wonderful, all I need to do is rearrange a few plants, and it will be perfect! You’ll love it, Philip!"
The gift of improvisation and creativity.
This year, we had a picnic benefiting the Red Door Pantry on the day before Easter. A college student was helping me with the arrangements.
But the challenge was to convert the sanctuary, which had been stripped bare for the previous evening’s Good Friday service, into a glorious white and gold worship space celebrating the resurrection...
all within an hour or so, before heading out to the picnic.
The student stood back in amazement as I ran up and down the stairs, hauling down lilies and streamers and gold taffeta.
And when it was all done, he announced there could be no doubt in the mind of anyone entering our church, as to whether or not it was a gay church.
I took that as a compliment.
Improvisation and creativity. How many churches do you know hang leopard-print drapings in the restroom?
How many churches would dare to paint some of the walls of the sanctuary a soft pink and get away with it?
Or dare to decorate the pulpit with rainbow-colored feather boas?
The gifts of improvisation and creativity abound within the LGBT community. They are gifts which we should be proud of.
Gifts which we can use to make the world a better place. Gifts which bring smiles to faces.
Spiritual gifts which reflect our community's true colors.
And then there is the gift of culinary preparation. In other words, good food!
The 25th chapter of Genesis tells the story of Jacob and Esau.
Esau was a stereotypical butch, bearish sort of guy, but Jacob was described as a quiet man, who also must have cooked a mean pot of stew.
Good enough for Esau to sell his own birthright for a taste of the good stuff.
Food is important to this MCC church. It's something we seem to do pretty well. Good enough, in fact, that we make a fair amount of money twice a year from our bake sales.
Good enough, that our annual chili cook-off is quite the crowd-pleaser.
Good enough, that I have been approached by some of the chefs in our congregation about having a bake-off that would include categories such as cakes,
pies, and cookies, with each category being judged according to taste, as well as presentation. It's a gay thing, this food and presentation.
Not exclusively gay, of course. No more so than any of the other gifts I mention.
But a gift which comes easily and naturally to many members of the LGBT community. A gift that should be celebrated, this gift of culinary preparation.
And let's not forget the gifts of dance and music. And who better to exemplify these gifts than David, king of Israel?
David, known for his skill on the harp, who very well may have composed so many of the psalms within our Bible.
And David, who is noted for such wild dance moves that he almost danced out of his clothes in the middle of the street –
a pre-Christian wardrobe malfunction, if you will.
There is no question that dance and music are so much a part of the LGBT community, it would have to be considered a spiritual gift.
Dance and music, or dance music, as the case may be.
Whether it's Diana Ross's "I’m Coming Out," Sister Sledge's "We Are Family," or Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," dance and music are trademarks of the LGBT community.
They are gifts which we give to the world. A world which would be much sadder without these spiritual gifts with which we have been blessed.
And let's not forget the gift of high drama. A gift which we are noted for sometimes carrying to the extreme.
A gift which Jonathan, of the Old Testament seemed to possess. You remember Jonathan, don’t you?
The young prince who had huge crush on David, maybe after seeing him dancing naked in the streets.
The man who David is reported as loving more than any woman.
One example of Jonathan's soap-opera life is shared in the 20th chapter of the Book of 1 Samuel.
Young Jonathan, unafraid of his bintimidating father, covered for his lover David, and incurred the wrath of his father for it.
But did the shouting match of insults deter Jonathan? Did a near-miss of a spear thrown at him at the dinner table scare him? No.
We read that he "rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food on the second day of the month."
In other words he stomped off to his room in a huff and refused to eat.
And after that, he made arrangements to meet his lover David in the late evening.
High drama. We all seem to hate it, yet it continues to be the spice that peppers the lives of the LGBT community.
What would happen if we just accepted it as a gift, gave our applause of the performance, and moved on?
Ain't no one can do drama like a drama queen, right?
But let's not leave out the lesbians. The warrior lesbians.
Deborah, whose story is so magnificent, that it's told twice in chapters 4 and 5 in the Book of Judges,
is a role model for the warrior women among our community.
Deborah was a prophet, wife, counselor, warrior, and the only woman judge in Israel.
She took a lead in defending her people and standing up for what was right.
If it weren't for the warrior lesbians in our community, there would be no community.
And so we give thanks for their gifts and we celebrate them and we honor them.
Spiritual gifts. They abound within our LGBT community. They shine out and make the world a better place.
I think of these gifts I've mentioned and others, when I read the words of Jesus:
"You are the light of the world…Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to God."
Light that reveals our true colors is light that should be shared with the world.
My prayer is that each of us will look within and recognize the spiritual gifts with which we have been blessed.
And then celebrate them. And as we celebrate our diverse gifts,
may we remember that we are all members of the same colorful family. The rainbow family of God. Amen.