I don’t often sneak into Catholic churches during their worship services and “borrow” their holy water, but when I do it’s because the Lord has need of it.
This Sunday at Urban Village Church started like a normal one, I woke up early, walked Mia, drove to Jewel-Osco and got some snack for the hospitality area. I got to church earlier than normal so I set up the table in the foyer and put out the signs. As I was laying out the mini trash cans for name tags I got this idea for Eucharist, “What if the person presiding moved the elements to the center of the room and served the people directly, it’s Pentecost, let’s see what happens”. So I tried it without warning people, I explained as we went that this was a demonstration of the Holy Spirit coming into the midst of our shit and making it manure so that brings new life. “This is a reflection of the Spirit being poured out on all flesh, flesh that is considered disabled, not just flesh that is straight but flesh that is bi and gay and trans and lesbian. The Spirit enables us to share this life-bringing love with the world.” Y’all. It worked.
After service, I’m in the back plotting how to work out something new for the second service, then FTE (an amazing conference in Atlanta I was at from Wed-Sat) comes to mind. My new play-cousin Gina said she learned best when she engaged with all five senses AND Dr. Valerie Bridgeman mentioned the Spirit coming in earth, wind, and fire – and dancing over the waters. *idea* I need get holy water and douse these folks to engage their senses so they could learn about how the Holy Spirit works in the world. I walked over to Jewel-Osco found a cute little glass jar, walked on into St. Ita’s where the faithful were reciting the Creed. I just so happened to walk in at the “We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life…” part. I walked up the little cooler for Jesus water, grabbed the goods, crossed myself and said thanks to the usher who was giving me side-eye. (Keep in mind I’m wearing red jeans and a red sport’s coat).
I had to delegate tasks because serving Jesus’s Body and Blood and sprinkling people is just too much, even for a diva. Hannah goes on and gives another killer sermon, Leslie gives a great testimony about justice and fighting for everyone’s rights, the band goes on ahead with another great Sunday of music, the greeters do another round of welcoming people into the space, the nursery workers in the back took care of two new babies they’ve never seen whose parents were nervous about being separate from them and they rocked it (again) – you know regular Sunday stuff.
I’m ready. The folks in second service was awake, the Spirit was moving so I popped off my shoes because the ground was like “Gurl, I’m holy too”. The people I volun-told to help out with serving Eucharist got into place, our gluten free option was passed to those who needed, I was running around the room sprinkling people in the face with water, it was a sight.
I get to serve the people of God.
Bringing all of who I am.
During FTE, Jess Reynolds asked me a question I don’t think I’ve ever been asked before, “What do you like about ministry?”. The question is more nuanced than I want to admit because it doesn’t ask what I love about ministry, rather what I like about it. I like seeing babies every week, I like the unpredictability, I like the ability to insert something into a tradition that goes back well over a thousand years and knowing that some authors of my sacred text would say “Yes hunty, serve that stuff” and others would tell me to “Sashay away” and all of us are still being faithful to the same God, I like that the place that I serve allows for diversity to lead, I like that I get to tell people who were told for decades that they were broken that God truly loves them as they, I like that the toddlers finally give me high fives, I like that my congregation is overflowing with talented and gifted members who gift the community with their time and energy every week, I like that my colleagues see me as peer even when my denomination does not, I like that I am surrounded by amazing LGBTIQ people who stay faithful to a family of faith that has not always stayed faithful to them, and I like that every week I can take a post-church nap and recharge from being surrounded with so many people and so many emotions.
There is a lot to like about serving the people of God.
I imagine other people who do this feel the same way, but I wonder if the people we serve know that we love doing what we do. I wonder if they know we think about them literally all the time and that we are always praying for them. I wonder if they know that we have to force ourselves to do other things, that we have other people to think about besides them, I wonder if they know we cry behind closed doors because we’re grieved for the things that they are. I wonder if they know that we love this. That there is literally no other job that could bring us more joy.
There is a lot to love about serving the people of God.
I also wonder about bringing Queerness into ministry. There is a certain flavor that only Queer ministers carry; years of being in the closet and wrestling with God and ourselves has acted like a crockpot of sorts, softening us in a way that nothing else could. I wonder if the joy we get from ministry comes from our desire to create families that truly love unconditionally. I wonder if our own need to hide from our loved ones is the reason why we try to encourage our flock to be more vulnerable. I wonder if we talk about the love of God so frequently and adamantly because we need to convince ourselves that we really are loved by God to counter the messages of hate we’ve received for our lifetimes. I wonder if we stay in denominations that hate us because we want to shield the children like us that are coming up in homes that won’t love them fully. I wonder if we love the sacraments so much because they offer something we’ve always wanted: belonging. I believe we are healing from scars, with joy.
I may not always get to be an out Queer minister, but while I am one, I’m going to enjoy every love and like every second I can. Amen.