Thoughts and Insights from Jeremiah

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Jeremiah 29:11 and Jeremiah 31:34

Reflections:

God has plans for us. We may not understand God’s plans or fully comprehend the places or situations we find ourselves in on any given day but have faith in that sometimes we are called to serve and act in accordance to a higher purpose. Sometimes we find ourselves being at the right place and right time to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.

And sometimes we are called to place ourselves outside our usual comfort zones and places of safety and security to reach out to those who face struggles and trials we cannot begin to understand. Sometimes we are called to help our fellow men, women, and children to get pulled out of darkness back into the light. That is not to say we must thrust ourselves into danger and take on unnecessary risks foolishly and blindly– but sometimes we must face our fears and face danger in order to achieve a greater good and to restore justice. Many enter into harm’s way to prevent further harm and to protect others from harm. Know that when  they do so, they do so prepared and armed with God’s armor.

Also, this second passage I selected from Jeremiah informs us that it is through God’s mercy and forgiveness that He will make Himself known to us. It is by mercy that we will begin to understand God. God wants to restore our relationship with Him. He wants to restore our souls. He wants to forgive and forget our sinfulness in response to our repentance and willingness to seek amends and make right what wrongs we have committed.

God’s plan is to love us and to encourage us to love and forgive one another as well as ourselves. God’s plan is to restore us and heal us. And in part of that plan, we should take it upon ourselves to try and restore, heal, and forgive others as we would want to be healed and restored and forgiven as well.

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Deuteronomy 13:11

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Reflection: 

It is an Old Testament call for community. It is a call to reach out to those less fortunate and less blessed than ourselves. There is a truth in that we have the capacity to be cruel to each other and especially to those we would easily consider to be “others” or “different” than ourselves. We are quick to divide ourselves into cliques and groups based on shared ideologies, common beliefs, socio-economic background, race, culture, language, religious beliefs, and so on. It is easy to not just divide but to subtract numbers from our potential social circles too. It is even easier to apply hatred and bigotry and persecution and nastiness to those we have nothing in common with. It is easy to fall prey to emotions of distrust and hate when we consider our fellow human beings as “others”, “less-thans”, “different” and so on.

Yet it is also a truth that within us is the capacity to build bridges, to mend fissures, and to heal and forgive others. It is also within our capacity to love one another and show compassion and empathy. It is within our means to overlook differences in favor of finding the common threads that unite us all. At the very least we can all unite under a common Creator and recognize that there is a greater power at work than our petty preferences and prejudices. There is a greater love from God and a greater forgiveness from God that can be given to us than what we give each other… but we won’t receive any of it if we do not share it.

 

 

Posted in Deuteronomy, Forgiveness, Hospitality, Inspiration, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Old Testament | Leave a comment

Galatians 8:22-23 “Against These Things, There is No Law”

Galatians 8:22-23

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

 Reflection:

If a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, or if at the very least a person is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control… then sharing or giving love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control cannot be sinful regardless of who you love or attracted to or what your gender or gender expression is. If the Holy Spirit is guiding you or helping you, you can’t really go wrong.

Why do portions of society deem LGBT people sinful abominations? Why do some in society see the LGBT as a pack of illegals ineligible for equal rights? Perhaps its because they don’t recognize the Holy Spirit as it works through us and with us? Perhaps they don’t understand that no demographic or group of people has a monopoly on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

People who try and control religion or manipulate religion or faith or spirituality are pretty much what is wrong with religion and faith and spirituality. The Holy Spirit bestows these gifts universally to all of God’s creations. These gifts are offered freely to anyone with the capacity to share them with others and make use of them for others’ benefits.

If people claim to know what love is but cannot offer it to all people equally, then maybe it isn’t love they claim to know but rather an “ism” or “phobia”? If people claim to know the gifts of the Holy Spirit but lack the ability to display or express them to all people equally, then do they know the Holy Spirit?

What keeps people from showing love to all people? Is it fear? Is it bigotry? Is it prejudice? Is it racism? Is it flat-out hatred? Or is it that they never felt what real love is? It could be a combination of things.

If the LGBT community wants to be treated equally among all, I think we need to display and share the gifts of the Holy Spirit and let folks know, we love, we are patient, forgiving, dependable, faithful, joyful, peaceful, and so on. We need to share kindness to invite it. We need to offer love to invite love. We need to offer patience and forgiveness if we ever hope to be received with patience and peace and kindness.

It goes back to doing onto others as we would want done unto us.

Posted in Equality, Faith, Forgiveness, Galatians, Holy Spirit, Hope, Hospitality, Inspiration, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Opinion, Peace | Leave a comment

Isaiah 56:7 — The Church is For All Peoples

A house of prayer for all nations. A house of prayer for all peoples.

Isaiah 56:7 “these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

“When the church has obtained the grace and humility needed to embrace those who are different, the truth of the gospel will be set free of the corruption and deception that have perverted it since the first century.” — Rick Joyner, “A Prophetic Vision for the 21st Century”

Reflection:

I know I have brought this up before in earlier blog posts over these last few years but now more than ever in 2018, it bears repeating and re-visiting. Anyone who would deny a person from having a relationship with God is ignoring the basic truth that it is not for them to separate God from His creation. No one can control God and dictate terms to Him. No one can deny God His creations. No one can deny someone from their Creator.

No one has the right to take away a person’s spirituality. No one has a right to shame a person for being spiritual. No one has the right to silence a person’s expression of spirituality or religious identity. In the same breath, no one has the right to strip away a person’s right to their identity as LGBT or Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, or atheist.

Whatever a person’s faith journey or choice, God welcomes all peoples and all nations to His church. I believe God is bigger than man’s ideas of religion, church, sectarianism, denominations, and theology. To be honest, I think God is even bigger than the Bible and all the holy texts mankind could ever write or conjure up.

Holy texts may be inspired by God or some divine entity, but in the end, who are we to define God or put Him (or Her) into a convenient archetype or framework or single image? Who are we to try and shape what God wants? Who are we to try and manage or manipulate God’s plans for humanity? Who ultimately has control and final say over the course of human events? While we may have free will, who has the eternal word and who passes ultimate judgment over our actions and souls?

So why do we think we can be each other’s gatekeepers and wardens over God’s church? Why do we think we have the right to impose upon others? By whose authority do we say who belongs and who does not? Some say God grants authority or Jesus grants authority– but they ignore what both God and Jesus say regarding who is worthy of salvation and redemption and forgiveness. They seem to forget that Jesus died for the forgiveness of all sins for all people.

In every major religion, there is an understanding that the ambitions of mankind are easily tempered by the authority of something greater than man. We all must bow to the laws of nature, for example. We are all held down by gravity. We are all subject to the laws of physics and we all must adapt to our environments. God’s creation tempers us.

We all answer to God. If God says we are His, we are His. We have a right to worship the God that gave us life, food, water, shelter, and a planet to live on. We have a right to respect the world God created and we have a right to worship.

By blog is a humble attempt at creating that safe space for the LGBT community to be a part of something spiritual, inspirational, hopeful, and worshipful. It is an attempt to make a bridge where no bridge is easily found. It is an attempt to prove to people in the LGBT community and their allies that they have a right to be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Wiccan, spiritual, religious. and faithful.

While I do focus much on a Christian perspective, I see places for all LGBT in all religious faiths and practices.

God is an infinite and all powerful entity. All things are possible. Inclusivity and diversity is God’s nature. Look at what God created for proof.

 

 

Posted in Editorial, Equality, Faith, Freedom, Hope, Inspiration, Isaiah, Mission Statement, Open and Affirming Churches, Opinion, Pride, Self-Reflection, Spirituality | Leave a comment

God Grants Courage

quote-about-god

Reflection:

God endows us with many gifts and skills. Some of them take a while to find and notice. Sometimes we simply don’t see what it is that God gave us because it is actually pretty obvious or easily taken for granted or just overlooked. Sometimes we doubt God exists. Sometimes we doubt that God is really involved in our lives. We wonder if God is paying attention.

But when we are most tested or challenged, I would wager that most of us look to some higher power to rescue us or pull us out of the fire or frying pan. I suspect in the greatest hour of desperation, we look for God and hope and pray He can save us. Desperate situations tend to make believers out of all of us, I think. And when the miraculous occurs, we thank God when those miracles happen.

The challenge I think is for us to seek God during the ordinary. Build the relationship with God each day whether we feel we need Him or not. Let God know what is on your mind and in your heart. Let Him know you are willing to trust Him and listen to Him.
Let God know honestly what you are feeling and thinking. Let Him work His miracles through you. Let Him bless you.

 

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Ordinary Things Becoming Miracles

I got to thinking this morning about how each of us is endowed with a variety of skills and talents and abilities– not all of which need to be extraordinary or spectacular. I got to thinking that some of the things about ourselves that we might take for granted, like abilities or skills, might look differently when used to help someone in need or in a desperate situation. Imagine the impact a hug could make to someone who is scared, lonely, or depressed. Imagine the difference that could be made in the life of someone disabled and stranded on the side of the road with a flat tire. Imagine the change in a person’s outlook for the day when someone is willing to just listen for a while and have a chat.

Ordinary things can make extraordinary differences in the lives of folks when you least expect it.

I got to thinking about how much pressure we might apply to ourselves to play superheroes and to make large sweeping social change over systemic problems like poverty, homelessness, depression, addiction, and so on single-handedly or some such. But I think it is the accumulation of all the little things that really matter that add up to make the bigger difference.

I also think that attitudes tend to change when accomplishment is made real. Knowing that some good came out of your efforts, you feel empowered to continue to do good and to continue to make those efforts. When you strain on making larger efforts or going beyond your means, it shouldn’t surprise you when success doesn’t come easy or come at all. Disappointment kills moods and kills enthusiasm.

So, I say take baby steps, do the little things right and well. Do the small things that might make the bigger difference in any given situation. Reach out to those in need of a helping hand, a welcome hug, a listening ear, a casual chat, help with a flat tire, or something like that. Find little ways to pay it forward. Little blessings can bring bigger miracles.

Posted in Hope, Inspiration, Love, Love thy Neighbor, Opinion, Self-Reflection | Leave a comment

Reflections for April 15th, 2018

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This is me. This is me as a transgender woman, three months into hormone replacement therapy. This is also me standing at the door to my church in Willimantic, CT. This is me as a Christian. This is me as I am. This is me being honest, sincere, and humble. I am not hiding anything. I am not trying to pull a trick. I am not trying to deceive anyone.

When I talk about my beliefs or faith or philosophy, I tell people right off the bat that I don’t claim to know everything or to have all the answers. What I do claim is that everyone has a right to ask questions, a right to learn, a right to find their own path, and a right to live full meaningful lives. I don’t go out in the world trying to convert the masses to my way of thinking and believing. I don’t cram my politics or ideology down people’s throats. All I do is offer people their spaces to find themselves, declare themselves, and be themselves. I invite people to share their experiences. I invite people to have experiences.

I tell people that have felt doors slam in their faces that I believe those doors can open. I tell people who feel left out or shrugged aside that there are places that still welcome and  include. I tell people who feel hurt that there are places in this world that provide healing. I tell people whop are afraid that there are people and places and organizations waiting to build you up and help you claim your courage. I tell people who feel they have no voice or fear that their voice can’t be heard that someone is always listening and there are places where you are free to speak your mind and pour out what is in your heart.

I try to encourage the LGBT community to have faith in themselves and in each other– but more importantly maybe, I try and encourage faith in a world where the LGBT community and beyond can find a middle ground, a place where respect and harmony and mutual compassion can thrive and not just exist with indifferent nods and tacit shrugs. I do believe that the culture of fear that surrounds the LGBT community can be transformed into a culture of courage and compassion. I do believe equality can be achieved and I do believe that having some kind of faith in a higher power and faith in each other will make the difference. If we all have that understanding that we are all a shared humanity  endowed wth incredible blessings and gifts, imagine the wonderful things we can accomplish together!

While we struggle in a world that seems eager to find excuses and reasons for why we should be divided or separated or segregated, it is imperative to put in even more investment and energy in finding reasons to do away with those lines of separation and segregation. When so many profit from instilling fear and paranoia, it is all the more important and vital that we look at what more can be gained from courage, communication, and community.

 

Posted in Hope, Inspiration, Introduction, Love, Mission Statement, Opinion, Peace, Pride, Self-Reflection, Transgender, Transgender Awareness, Transgender Hope | Leave a comment