Friday, May 1, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009. Fifth Sunday of Easter

© 2009 by Louie Crew

Today’s Lections
The Collect
Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Acts 8:26-40

For all of his Jewishness, it appears Philip lacks a proper Biblical education. Does he not know, “He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 23:1)?

The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch offers clear evidence that Christianity is not bound by the old covenant’s ban on all sexual deviation.

It is not surprising that it took an angel to convince Philip to get into a chariot with a foreigner, and fascinating that the black eunuch himself would have allowed it. As a castrati, the eunuch would have a high pitched, ‘feminine’ voice. As treasurer of Ethiopia, the eunuch’s splendor contrasted with Philip’s poverty. And the eunuch was doing ethnic studies, reading a Jewish holy book, not just a travel guide.

Instead of relying on the Jewish prejudice he had been taught, Philip seizes the occasion as an evangelical opportunity.

Unlike fundamentalists who think they can understand texts on their own, the eunuch admits that he needs an interpreter to understand Isaiah. Philip interprets the text as fulfilled in the life of Jesus, and based on Philip’s testimony alone, the eunuch converts and they stop the chariot to baptize him on the spot.

Just what part of this story is so hard for Anglican primates to understand?

Again and again Christian scriptures attest to greater inclusion: God loves absolutely everybody!

Psalm 22:24-30

I am not fond of this psalm and am glad that we have so many others from which to choose. This one works mainly as a filler, rather like editors use to fill a page that has a small amount of blank space left. In the psalm the reader becomes God’s toady.

By contrast, Jesus said, I have not called you slaves or servants, but friends. He did not then order them to proclaim that kingship belongs to him. Jesus did not even demand that people bow down and worship him. He gave a new commandment: Love one another.

There is one part of this psalm that I do like, namely the testimony to God’s greatness: “the poor will eat and be satisfied.”

1 John 4:7-21

"Perfect love casts out fear."

Sometimes when I reflect on some of the danger Ernest and I endured as a very public interracial gay couple living in rural Georgia in the first years of our marriage (1974-79), I wonder how in the world we survived the fear:

The vestry asked me to leave the parish, and I refused, based on God’s invitation.. Frequently, especially in the spring, young boys threw rocks at our apartment. Occasionally I had to jump from the road to avoid jeering motorists barreling down on me. In a large regional paper a bishop accused us of causing the tornado which had struck havoc in the white community. On one occasion police jeered when I stopped nextdoor on my motorcycle to mail letters. Frequently people called to breathe heavily or to threaten to murder us.

I am 72 now and can imagine debilitating fear, but I do not remember being afraid, certainly not enough to stop living our lives as we felt called to live them.

We were blessed with an abundance of spiritual humor. When accused of causing the tornado, through an even larger newspaper, the Atlanta Journal I proclaimed, “That’s queer power!” and noted that we took good aim as well, taking the steeple off the white Baptist church, but not the black.

When the police heckled, I drove back and threatened to report them to the FBI. They fled inside. One of them later told me they said, “Sissies are not supposed to stand up like that.”

Mainly I remember from many of those occasions what I can best describe as a rush of angels’ wing.

My love was not perfect enough to cast out all fear, but I knew our abusers were better than they were acting and that I needed to take risks if I expected change to happen.

I could well be wrong in my views about homosexuality. But I am not wrong when I proclaim that those who say, "I love God," and hate their lgbt brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love

Listen to the remarkable story of Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, recently aired on 60 Minutes. Cotton spent years in prison. Jennifer wrongly identified him as her rapist in police line-ups and in court testimony. He was exonerated when DNA evidence identified someone else as the rapist, someone who had many physical features like Cotton’s. Instead of hating Jennifer, Ron has forgiven her. The two of them have become friends as together they travel the country educating law enforcement officials to the risks of believing that eye-witnesses remember exactly what we see and hear.

John 15:1-8

Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.”

I find it an important discipline to check in 2-3 times a year to see whether I am bearing fruit as a Christian. It’s harder to mark change if I check any more frequently. It is also important not to assume that I can know about the fruit. Elsewhere Jesus tells us that we are the seed bearers: the harvest belongs to the Holy Spirit.

“A young man wrote a few years back asking, "Are you the same Louie Crew who used to live in Fort Valley and had a black lover?"

"Yes," I replied, and asked, "Why do you want to know?"

"I feared I would never find you and I am so ashamed of myself and need your forgiveness. I was a teenager back then. My parents encouraged my brothers and me to call you and threaten you with murder on several occasions. A couple of times when I was with him my father saw you jogging and tried to scare you by revving the engine of his pickup truck and rushing straight at you...

"I grew up gay, and feel horribly guilty. Can you possibly forgive me?"

In the twinkling of an eye I wrote back, "You were forgiven even before you were born, from the same source of my own forgiveness, and the forgiveness of everyone else. I rejoice in your wholeness. May God fill your life with goodness."

He later mentioned that his parents had been reconciled with him and had even welcomed into their home his Hispanic lover.

I believe in Resurrection. I have seen it happen.

See also

No comments: