This year for the season of Lent, HRC Foundation launched a campaign that aims to tell the stories of LGBTQ people of faith. The Lenten season marks the days which lead up to Jesus' crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.
For Christians, the resurrection is both a reminder and celebration of life, yet people continue to suffer, including members of the LGBTQ community.
“A central and inspiring part of my ministry has been working to make sure the institutional church -- and religion in general -- is affirming and inclusive of LGBTQ persons,” said the Reverend Dr. J. Edwin Bacon, author and reverend in the Episcopal Church. “I am a more joyful and faithful priest because of that part of my work.”
We hope the meditations offered every day from Ash Wednesday to Easter on April 16, will bless souls, revive spirits, renew minds and strengthen bodies. These stories will be hosted on the HRC website and on Twitter and Facebook.
The Lenten Devotional is a faith-filled resource that compiles meditations written by 47 faith leaders from across the United States. This project and other public education work with faith leaders in HRC Alabama, HRC Arkansas and HRC Mississippi is made possible in part by the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
The culture we live in defines everybody.
And they define everybody for us.
They tell us what thoughts to think about people. They provoke the emotions we should feel about them. In many cases, society even dictates how we relate to them, live in relationship to them.
This includes us.
Elements of our being have been categorized as positive or negative by popular culture. Whether or not we want to be, we are exposed to society’s opinion of us. Some days there is ease in combating the tendency to believe those opinions because we know better. Then, there are those days where we question our worth and wonder, are they right?
What do you think? What is your opinion of yourself?
Deeper than that, what is God’s opinion of you?
The psalmist reminds us:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my
mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully
made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My
frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth (Psalms 139:13-14).
These days, we are called to look ourselves in the mirror and make sure the loudest voice we hear is our own…reflecting God's love for us. We cannot forget that God values us. Therefore, we cannot misappropriate the value we have of ourselves either.
We must not equate our love of self with the way others devalue or look down upon us. Instead, it we must see God in ourselves and in one another and honor that in our interactions.
It is up to us to stand in solidarity with each other in a way that creates a new culture, a culture that has the potential to transform lives. We do that by radically loving one another no matter who we are, where we come from or what our situation is.
Let our love reflect God's love so that the virtue of our being promotes togetherness and healing.
God loves us all.
Let us love one another.
To the immigrant who has been told "you don't belong here," you are God's creation, made with a purpose.
You will always belong. (Jeremiah 29:11)
To the LGBTQ community whose love and life have been invalidated.
You are a child of God, and God is love. (1 John 4:8)
To the indigenous peoples who have experienced disrespect, devastation and/or loss, God is your refuge. (Psalm 147:3)
To the poor often overlooked, God sees you, and God cares. (Matthew 10:30-31)
To the differently abled, people underestimate you. Don’t believe them. Focus on whatever you want and do it.
Knowing God is with you; you will succeed! (Philippians 4:13)
To women who have not been honored fully, God loves you and delights in everything you do and all that you are! (Isaiah 43:4a)
To the veteran who has fully known war but struggles to live in peace, God will be your strength! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
To native Africans, now known as African-Americans whose people continuously experience oppression, suppression and depression in many forms, redemption is yet at hand! (Isaiah 41:10)
No matter what we've been through in our lives, let us never forget that we are loved, valued and cared for. After all, we are STILL God's very own!
The Reverend Carissa Rodgers, Pastor
Quapaw Quarter United Methodist Church
Little Rock, Arkansas