I’m increasingly questioning even terms such as ‘affirming’, as well as ‘inclusive’ and ‘welcoming’ for the kind of faith communities of which I want to be a part. Celebrating - and Transforming - seem much nearer the mark right now. For just seeking 'a place at the table' (a popular phrase among many LGBTIQA+ activists and in other progressive causes) is not enough. Of course it is better than simply crawling around picking up crumbs from the table, which is what we are often condemned to do! Personally however that seems a timid image for communities centred on the eucharist of the subversive Christ. For the problem with churches just ‘welcoming’ or including’ or ‘affirming’ sexually and gender diverse people is that it still leaves hetero-cis folk in control, many theological assumptions unquestioned, and 'straight privilege' untransformed. The reality is that LGBTIQA+ people are as much hosts as guests in God’s work of love, and, like other ‘outsiders’/Gospel ‘little ones’ are more obviously loci of potential spiritual transformation. So it is time to let us, with other ‘little ones’, fully celebrate and actively share, not merely receive, God’s welcome for all.
In contrast, the photo above comes from the first occasion when I presided at the eucharist. It symbolises the transformation. which God is seeking - where LGBTIQA+ people our/themselves also preside in a celebrating faith community, as a sacrament and foretaste of the celebratory divine party where everyone's gifts and identities give and share. For me it was a profoundly moving occasion, where different aspects of my self were at last reconciled and enlivened - including my hitherto publicly hidden gender and priestly vocation; my body and spirit; my past, present, and future. I have come to realise however how important my eucharistic presidency also is for others, as we all journey together through the changes of life into the fullness of God's transformative love and celebratory joy. That love and joy needs embodying and sharing more widely. It will not happen however unless the agency of LGBTIQA+ people our/themselves is central.
for more of my reflections on this theme,
click on this link - Why even 'affirmation' can be part of the problem
One of the most profound things about being a priest is sharing in great transition times in all kinds of people’s lives. Sometimes these are also marked in special ways at special times and/or places. Sadly, whilst they were much better at this in former ages (including adapting ‘pagan’ practices), Christians recently have often narrowed, and even exclusified, our human ‘rites of passage’ - with beautiful exceptions, like Dorothy McRae-McMahon, who have actively explored words and symbols for a much greater range of vital human experiences. In one sense ‘holy holding’ of transgender experiences is part of this, though particularly gorgeous! 😻🧚
I've shared in other similar occasions in recent times, but I’m really looking forward to this coming Sunday - partly as a contribution to the renewed unfolding of divine presence and naming, encouraging others to the same (seriously its not hard to do!), but above all for the opportunity to lead our parish in celebrating a beautiful person (and increasingly beloved friend) in our Milton Anglican community. The eye shadow may or may not be on show - and glitter is sadly out due to COVID-19 - but there will certainly be dancing in the heart of God. 💃🙏🦋
The Revd Dr Jo Inkpin: