Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
In Texas, September is a big month for Gay Pride festivals. We do know that most of the nation celebrates Pride in June, but it is simply too hot, so we delay to September in hopes of some modestly cooler temperatures. When Pride celebrations began, they made the statement that the LGBTQ community existed in our communities and deserved notice. Today they celebrate family and changing levels of acceptance. The scriptures from the September 8 lectionary fit the theme of pride and redemption well.
In Jeremiah we see the potter molding and remolding the clay until it becomes the vessel he set out to make. The original material was quality despite the flaw that came about in the initial molding. Perhaps too much pressure was applied in one spot or the potter’s attention went away for a moment. Regardless of the flaw, the clay was pulled together and the right vessel was formed.
The Epistle to Philemon tells one of the most powerful stories of human redemption in the Bible. We do not know the origin of the conflict that led to the separation of Onesimus and the church. What we do know is that in the time he has been with Paul, he has become a valuable companion and partner in service. The text makes clear that, despite whatever caused the separation, Onesimus belongs in the church and should be welcome there.
Psalm 139 poetically reveals our ultimate connection to God – his knowledge and value of each of us. God knows us like no other. His direction for us is specific to us. No message of exclusion can stand against the message of attention God paid to each of us in our creation. When we fully understand the power in the message that God, and none other, personally knit together, every person what believer can label any person “less-than?” The more I have pondered this one idea, the more powerful I realize it is. As powerful as redemption and reconciliation are in the Biblical scale, the message of relationship as told in Psalm 139 overshadows them both. No theology can stand against a personal relationship with God, no matter how adamant the adherent.
Much like Onesimus, the LGBTQ community has historically been pushed outside the community of the church for a long list of reasons. The passages in Jeremiah and Philemon are just two examples of the redemptive and inclusive nature of God’s love; the language here and elsewhere calls all persons to community in the church. Fortunately more and more churches are finding that message of the Bible and are becoming welcoming and affirming to ALL people. Forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation are powerful tools of the church, but none of them match the relationship we have with God, and ultimately that relationship is what matters most.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org