Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay @ MCC East London 9th August 2009
In the bible reading, 1 Kings 19, Elijah was at a place in his call to ministry that he was about to give up, he was administered food and water by the angel of God that made him strong enough to walk forty more days. Often we are afraid when we challenge the leaders of our society, our government or even other religious leaders, so we find ourselves running, just like Elijah from Ahab and Jezebel.
I say to you brothers and sisters Don’t give up just Yet. It is time that we lay claim to things around our sexuality and spirituality, we have left things for too long. Up till now we have just been surviving. Ephesians 4:31-32 says 31Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don't yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. 32Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ.
Churches need to learn, that it is why I said don’t give up just yet, the best is yet to come.
Heterosexual people have not had to deal with as much as we have, they have not lived totally in fear every day, they have not argued in parliament for their rights based on Sexual orientation and gender identity. We have learnt a lot along the way just to survive. In more than 80 countries in the world homosexuality is still severely punished and five will execute gay people, including Nigeria where we have a church
Many people inspire me so much, I want to mention a few (I apologise as this list consist of just men); Jesus Christ, because he is our saviour and redeemer, for his incomparable and undefined love. My father in Nigeria, an epitome of love I have recently encountered whilst scaling through troubled waters. Rev Elder Troy Perry, the founder of MCC, I adore and love so much, an obedient servant of God for the millennia
Bishop Gene Robinson, a fighter and saint amongst people. I mention these people because they thought me never to give up.
Don’t give up yet because we can now look into the communities of faith who identify with our issues and we can align with them, if they get it, lets us support them, don’t give up just yet.
We also have an opportunity to reach out to people at the Pride events, family circles, in our neighbourhoods, at the bars and clubs, if these places can have so many people so can our churches, tell them this is the place to party with Jesus, tell them we celebrate the inclusive love of God, when you go around this week, this month, the rest of the year, carry some information about the church, tell someone about the source of the living water. Ephesians 5:1-2 1Do as God does. After all, you are his dear children. 2Let love be your guide. Christ loved us [a] and offered his life for us as a sacrifice that pleases God.
Mission is a place where God is already at work and we can see that in the desperation of people seeking God, in our drag queens, leather men, lip stick lesbians and the beauty we appreciate when we go to events in our community, we often say why do people hate us so much, I am saying to you brothers, sisters and friends don’t give up on the accounts of the negativity we face the more we persevere the more results we get. Not only do we grow in favour and mercy but also in spirit and in numbers.
The LGBT community are doing God’s work, imagine providing a safe place for gay and lesbian teenagers, support for our elderly queer people, the health service and care for people living with HIV and AIDS, now let us do more with our spiritual service, tell people of the love of God and counsel them in the richness of the Holy Spirit.
Though we are largely a mission with a primary call to LGBT people, we know that all are welcome and we now need to include that language in our vocabulary and take the steps to dance to the tunes of all music, narrow and broad, gay and straight people can be found in all areas, we love the same things, country music, rock, classical, reggae, rnb, pop, hip pop, soul, blues, jazz, Mozart etc
Don’t give up yet, lets meet with those who are against us and begin a dialogue, let’s ask again and again, just as the Israelite asked Pharaoh to let them go, let’s say to them give us the chance to dialogue, and I believe when they begin to listen they will be moved to undo the harm that has been caused toward LGBT people.
We are never to give up our humanity nor allow the world to dictate for us, we are the Bride of Jesus, Jesus is the Bridegroom and always will be. We need to continue our great tradition of love towards one another and never to give up, the bible tells us what good is it to love those who love you, love your enemies, whilst I know this is very hard and a difficult thing to do, it is what the lord asks of us.
The hatred towards us has more to do with misogyny than anything else, gay men are seen as men and not women, the patriarch world don’t wish to see men in women’s role nor see men that are effeminate. The constant hatred for women lies at the root of this problem and I am not surprise even in my new quest to read the bible in 90 days found that most of the early chapters of the Old Testament spoke little about women. In Numbers 27:1-8, I recognised the voice of women and their power, perhaps we can learn something from this story. “Then the daughters of Zelophehad came forward. Zelophehad was son of Hepher son of Gilead son of Machir son of Manasseh son of Joseph, a member of the Manassite clans. The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. 2They stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders, and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and they said, 3‘Our father died in the wilderness; he was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin; and he had no sons. 4Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.’ 5 Moses brought their case before the Lord. 6And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 7The daughters of Zelophehad are right in what they are saying; you shall indeed let them possess an inheritance among their father’s brothers and pass the inheritance of their father on to them. 8You shall also say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies, and has no son, then you shall pass his inheritance on to his daughter.” This for me is like our community today, we need to speak up and stand up for what belongs to us.
There was a time when black people are not welcomed in the church, there was a time when people with physical challenges cannot serve at the altar, and there was a time when women are not visible. Now is the time to make sure that LGBTTTTIQQQ people are visible and their voices heard in the churches and religious communities.
Even though we are specialised in the LGBT piece, we also need to include other areas too, other cultural communities, all race, indigenes and migrants, social class and status, working class and the unemployed, we need to be the church alive and inclusive. We need to reach families, teens and the elderly, we want a church that will live up to its dreams and visions for all people. (Pause)
I am about to close my sermon, What we say about each other matters, what we say about women matters, we cannot fight for inclusion when we give up to be inclusive, it is time we welcome and respect women, it is time that we welcome transgender people, it is time that we welcome effeminate men and masculine women. It is time that we become totally inclusive. It is time that we all speak out against racism, injustice and discrimination, we don’t have to wait until it happens to us, we just need to use our privileges as a people, however when we fail to use our privileges to speak out against racism and work towards dismantling any system that promotes hatred or discrimination, we silently collude. Our voices and actions matters.
Don’t give up just yet, because the inclusive church, the metropolitan community church, the LGBT Queer movement, you and I that believe in the wasteful generosity of God’s love for all people, is about the end of patriarchy, the end of discrimination, the end of injustice, the end of hatred, the end of misogyny, the breaking down of the closet doors and the expanding of the communion table, the end to the reign of the dominating powers of ruthless and lawless people. Elijah almost gave up, but God sent an angel, the Lord will send an angel to feed us. I say one more time, Dont Give up, never give up, God Bless you, God bless our universe.