By Revd Rowland Jide Macaulay,
Pastor House Of Rainbow MCC Lagos Nigeria @ MCC East London 16th August 2009
Greetings to all the members and leaders of MCC East London from the congregation of House Of Rainbow MCC in Nigeria who continually send their love, also greetings from my friend Donald in Australia and Gift in Malawi. I seize this very special opportunity to welcome everyone worshipping here for the first time at Metropolitan Community Church East London, you are welcomed and if you already do not have a home church, you are welcomed to make this church your home. If your feel comfortable, please shake hands, or give someone next to you a warm hug and say to them welcome, welcome home. Let us Pray.
Also I invite us to hold Revd Caroline Redfearn in our prayers for speedy recovery to good health and also we pray for our Pastor Revd Margarita and her partner Frieda for a save journey as they enjoy their time away.
Yesterday like many other pride events in the UK and all over the world, it was the UK Black Pride, this events reminds me of the experiences and freedom to love that we take for granted in a few parts of the world and we become complacent, as I did a number of walkabout I was reminded on a giant map of many more parts of the world where celebrating Pride or sexuality is not just a challenge but considered a crime, a crime so harsh that in some of these nations people can be killed for being a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender person, the ability to express any form of same gender love is frowned upon.
Today we set aside this day to thank God for the events yesterday to offer a sacrifice of praise to God, to Jesus our saviour and redeemer, it is my hope and prayers that many will be fulfilled in their journey to reconcile their faith and sexuality with God, wherever we may find ourselves, in nations where LGBT people can have peace or where the laws are still harsh and discriminatory.
As a people we have so much expectation of people in certain professions or qualifications to lead us, to defend us, to guide us, such as lawmakers to make laws to protect us, lawyers to adequately mitigate and defend our cases, Activists to stand up and speak out, Pastors, Priests, Levites to pray, assist us on matters of spirituality and that is why we are here, in Metropolitan Community Churches and other inclusive ministries, our job is not done until we have worked with people that are marginalised and exhausted by the powers of wrongful interpretation of their lives and made weary by the tiredness of their thoughts.
The reading in Luke 10:25-37 was about a Lawyer who stood up to test Jesus, “Teacher, he said what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Many of us are being tested today, in our thinking, in our understanding of the love of God, many of us are going to stand against or before people like this lawyer and be interrogated, if we already have not had this experiences, what must we do? For same gender loving people, for people that identify as Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual, Men who love men, and Women who love women, the same question I ask you today, What Must we do to Inherit eternal life? What must I do?
Jesus response to the lawyer was simple but not easy? Jesus asked, what was written in the law?
Can you imagine a lawyer came to test Jesus, this is someone who is no doubt familiar with the law, but yet showed a high level of ignorance, there are people in religion today who also exhibit a high level of ignorance on the matters of inclusion for LGBT people in the love of God, they have ignore the importance of the laws of God, and that is what Jesus has come to remind us through this story.
Jesus asked what is written in the law? The lawyer responded; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and your neighbour as yourself. Just like the lawyer there are greater debates today on who is our neighbour, whether or not LGBT people, or people of other faith traditions, can be our neighbour, this lawyer was so righteous, the bible said he wanted to Justify himself so he asked Jesus, And Who is my neighbour?
Jesus illustrated with the story of the Good Samaritan, which involved a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of robbers who stripped him, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.
It truly does not matter how many people encountered the wounded man or what professional affinity they have, it didn’t matter whether they where Priests, lawyers, Politicians, an ordinary person, who passed by and did nothing, what was important in this story is the compassion that we give to anyone regardless of their race, ethnicity, tribe, culture, language, sexual orientation or gender identity. As Christians and in our humanity we are called in to the liberty to love our neighbour as ourselves.
The level of response to love our neighbour is part of our determination to share with others what God has given to us, the freedom to love, the freedom so desperately needed in other parts of the world, for the freedom of LGBT people, who are unable to assemble to Praise and worship God, a freedom to pledge their cases of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, the freedom to come to God Just as we are, the freedom to celebrate our love and Stop living in fear daily, the freedom to reconcile sexuality and spirituality.
According to the bible reading The good Samaritan, 1) went out of his way, 2) He came near the wounded man when he saw him 3) He was moved with pity 4) He went to him and bandaged his wounds, 5) poured oil and wine on his wound, 6) He placed the wounded man on his animal 7) brought him to an inn and took care of him 8) The next day he took out two denarii gave them to the innkeeper, he paid for all the cost of caring for the wounded person.
Are you the Good Samaritan? What Must I do, Jesus asked the lawyer, Which of these people, do you think, who had an opportunity to be a good neighbour, was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers? I ask all of us brothers and sisters, how many of us are good neighbours to the people around us, at our place of work, people including LGBT people in distant countries, have we considered them neighbours? The question is what must we do? According to Mark 12:29-31, “Jesus answered, The first commandment is, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, the second is this, you shall love your neighbour as yourself, there is no other commandment greater than these” Like The good Samaritan, 1) let us go out of our way to reach out to others in need, 2) Let us come near those that are wounded by religion or faith or culture 3) let us be moved with pity for people living under discriminatory laws 4) Let us go to them, so they know that we care, 5) poured oil and wine on their wound, 6) Lets make provision to protect and support them 7) distance is no excuse to show we care 8) Let us work together to pay and contribute to changes we take for granted.
This is what we must do. God bless you, God bless our universe. Amen.