- a parable by anonymous -
It started innocently enough, two friends talking about the newspaper headline: “Global Church Rejects Plea from Homosexuals: Refuses to Allow Full Membership.”
“They couldn’t have worship without us,” one observed.
“Yeah, that would be funny, wouldn’t it? What if none of us showed up one Easter Sunday?” she chuckled with sadness.
It wasn’t a plan, just an ironic idea passed from friend to friend. Until it emerged as an intention. A quiet, powerful witness: that all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer church people would spend Easter quietly with their families, in prayer and witness that God already resides in the hearts of all people, no matter what the global church has decided.
Church leaders denounced the idea as an attempt to split the church: “Global Unity Threatened by Homosexual Activists.” Conservative groups raised thousands of dollars through their fundraising appeal: “Gay groups show their true intention. Don’t let gays hold the church hostage to their evil agenda!” Secretly, they rejoiced that they were “finally going to close the door on this evil facing the church – let them stay home. We’ll be fine without them.”
Easter Sunday approached and church leaders attempted to set up contingency plans.
The altar guild needed to find a substitute: The communion elements were usually prepared by the retired teacher and gay man who would be spending the day with his partner of many years. No one knew 100% how to run the sound system in the absence of the sound guy. The organist, the choir director, and the entire tenor section of the choir were having an alternative Easter Taize service in the park. The children’s coordinator would be absent, in addition to three of the Sunday school teachers. That would work out fine, because six of the families with children would not be present – three families had same-sex parents; one family had a lesbian aunt; and one family’s teenaged boy is gay. The head of the ushers would be with his lesbian daughter and her partner. And only one money counter could be identified – all the rest of the regular counters were either LGBT or had close family and friends who were.
The Easter breakfast committee prepared ahead. This year, they would have to go with doughnuts and coffee and forgo the usual full Easter breakfast, since their gay caterer had regretfully reported that she would be traveling to be with her parents for a witness outside of their church.
The pastor had struggled with this issue of boycott. It was not, after all, the fault of all heterosexual people that LGBTQ people were being discriminated against. But late Saturday night, her teenaged daughter had come to her study with tears in her eyes. “Mom, I can’t go to church tomorrow. And I don’t think you should, either. My best friend at school – you know she’s gay – this church stuff just hurts her so much and I need to be with her tomorrow. I mean, you talk about this Jesus stuff all the time. What would he do?” After a sleepless night, the pastor decided that Jesus wouldn’t cross the picket lines if there had been such a boycott in his day. She drove to the church and set up a card table altar across the street from the church. She put up a sign, “Free grace for all offered here.”
People coming to church gathered with her there, across the street. Even people driving by stopped their cars and joined the crowd of straight, but remarkably compassionate people. They sang songs and said prayers. They confessed their sins -- of judgment, of exclusion, of insensitivity. They wrote petitions to church leaders and letters of support for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
For the few who entered the church that morning, they found a small note left on the altar. “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5, NRSV).
In the community of heaven, God watched with interest. She said to her friends, “Finally, we’re getting somewhere. Now, let’s eat.”
. . .