During this past Sunday’s “Open and Affirming Forum” at ARK Church our guests related some of their own experiences to help us better understand the pain and alienation that many transsexuals encounter every day, and also provided a great deal of information to help us be more sensitive, compassionate and affirming when dealing with anyone who is “other” – especially those in the LGBTQ communities. Our eyes were opened to the challenges of being someone who doesn’t fit into the neat (and very binary) categories of “male” or “female” or “opposite sex loving” or “same sex loving.” It was a moving, growing (and humbling) experience.
The leader of the forum said something near the end of the meeting that has stuck with me all week: “just show up.”
And really, that’s what it’s all about – to just show up. It matters not a bit whether we are experts – or novices – at dealing with people who are “other”, no matter how different or unfamiliar they may be to us. What matters is that we just show up. “Showing up” means we care, that we wish to learn, and that we value “the other.” It means we see those who are so often treated as invisible; and that we know they are just as loved by God as we are. It means we know they are loved by God for who they are, just as they are. It means we know that good things will come to us and to them through our relationships with each other and with God. It means that we have hope for our future, and theirs – together.
All it takes is to show up – to take that first step of faith to embrace “the other” simply because we know God loves them too.
Being faithful isn’t about being skilled or perfect at anything. It’s about showing up. That’s all that God asks us to do – show up, and you’ll find that God is there too: showing us the way, impelling us to speak or act as needs to be done, helping us to learn what we need to learn, and providing the grace for those we encounter to rejoice in our presence and willingness to stand with them, no matter how clumsy we feel we might be.
We aren’t the biggest congregation in town, nor do we have the greatest resources, nor the most skilled volunteers or staff. What we are blessed with is an abundance of willing hands: people who just show up to do whatever needs doing. People who are willing to work, people who are willing to grow, people who humbly admit that they have a lot to learn. We are a congregation that really does show up, again and again.
God is already there, we just need to show up. The rest is details…
Copyright (c) 2015, Allen Vander Meulen III, all rights reserved. I’m happy to share my writings with you, as long as proper credit for my authorship is given. (e.g., via a credit that gives my full name and/or provides a link back to this site – or just email me and ask!)