Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Rainbow Wedding in Chicago

A Celebration and Blessing of Civil Union

I met Andre and Kevin on Facebook. My son introduced them to me when he celebrated their engagement to his friends right there in front of God and everyone on Facebook. Being who I am, I rejoiced in the announcement. Both young men were children of the church, but their particular denominations were a bit hesitant to celebrate and bless their love. Not me! I was among the first to congratulate them.
Andre and Kevin then wondered aloud to Michael if I would travel from Boston to Chicago to perform their nuptials. They asked, and I gladly accepted. I would travel half way around the world to celebrate and bless the wedded bliss of those who wish to love one another, just as Jesus said we should. After all I am a priest of the church and this is what we do. We marry off folks, we baptize babies and adults, we bury the dead. We visit the sick. And as long as there is life in me I will do the deeds and travel far and wide for anybody asking the church's blessing for any and all of the above sacraments.
I know that some churches are reluctant to bless folks who love one another if they happen to be of the same sex and propose to enter into covenantal relationships with one another. But I do not represent "some churches". I represent one tiny corner of the Christian/Faith world that rejoices as I do when folks fall in love. When that love gets serious and is more than just infatuation but is of the sort that wishes to be faithful in a life long union, I'll be the first in line to bless such a union.
There are no barriers to such a union in my church. There are no racial, ethnic, class, gender or orientation barriers in my church. We are tiny. Not all of our priests are gung-ho about such relationships, but I am. We are a scandal to much of the Communion. Our Archbishop has rattled our knuckles with his ecclesiastical ruler. But we all smiled and embraced the beloved of God and removed all barriers to Baptism, Marriage, and Burial and even ordination!
When I got home from Chicago, I put it up on Facebook that "The Deed is Done". Scores of people expressed their joy and enthusiasm and were quite complimentary to me for being "cool", one even called me a "dude"...a first for this cleric.
But then I was taken to task by one of my West Virginian friends. He questioned the blessing by saying that I was merely playing up to the culture and fudged on my responsibility to preach the truth of God. This he suggested was the more loving thing to do. I tried to reason with the man, alas to no avail.
I removed his posts from my Facebook page ultimately because I felt we all have a right to go to our marriage bed with delight and glee just as I did when I married my lovely bride 31 years ago. When we heterosexuals get married, we have the privilege of doing so without our loves being a matter of debate.
I have decided the same will hold true for my LGBTQ friends. My church is a "House of Prayer for All People". PERIOD. We are not Jews and Greeks, we are not slave and free, we are not male and female in my church. We are one in Christ just as the blessed Apostle to the Gentiles said (Galatians 3:28). It follows we are not defined by race, ethnicity, class, gender or orientation. We are defined as being one in Christ. Thus I have argued before in this blog when I set forth a biblical base for the Rainbow Marriage.
Please don't be offended when I use the name of Jesus and Christ. When I use the Name, I am not doing so to be exclusive, but to be centered. I am clearly Christ centered in the sense that I believe that Jesus is the clearest example I have seen yet of the love of God made flesh in human form. But I am not Christ exclusive. Neither was Jesus. When he fed the multitudes on the hillsides of Galilee he didn't check church membership, or any other convenience of human classification.
The only requirement to be loved by God in the Person of Jesus, is to be human. That will suffice. Be human, that is all that Jesus requires.
And that's all I require too. So if you want to get married, have a baby/child/adult to be baptized, have a loved one who is sick, or if there are the dead to be buried, just let me know. Or let any priest of the church know. And we will be there for you.
By the way, I am an Episcopalian, if that matters to anybody. So far that's the only Catholic and Apostolic church around that comes right out and says such a thing.
And remember, God loves you and so do I,
Fr. Paul

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