News from AllianceQ: March 2020

"Taking Our Faith Seriously, Examining Our Faith" by Rev. Monica J. Cross

*contributed by Rev. Monica J. Cross, Pastor of First Christian Church of Oakland, CA

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1

My perspective on faith is rooted in my relationship with God and the transgender community.  Living out and proud as a black, transgender woman in a society of hatred and exploitation, where the life of each transgender person is at risk, required that I take the faith imparted to me by God seriously. The life I live, the work I do, the hopes I have, the ministry and activism all emerge out of this sacred call of faith.

photo contributed by Monica Cross

Standing in front of the City Hall in Oakland, California, protesting policies that don’t help those who are homeless or unsheltered, I was keenly aware of the police who were all around us. Particularly as a black, transgender woman I am cautious when it comes to protesting particularly when it comes to the possibility of getting arrested and incarcerated because of issues of trust and safety around the police, experienced by some in the transgender community.  Yet, there I was, a black, transgender woman on what I call, the front lines of faith.  It is being on the front lines of faith that compels the question, “What does it mean to take my faith seriously?” Taking my faith seriously has meant significant reflection, study, and conversations in community about desires, hopes and dreams of conviction which present me with a vision that addresses the injustice such as the housing crisis or the murder of black transgender women.

Amid seasons of religious and political strife and polarization, injustice and doubt, when unrighteousness, sin and evil have their say, at times parading as forms of righteousness, the question asked is, “How do we take our faith seriously?”,  What does it look like?”, What are the actions?”  Particularly as truth, ethics, and their wisdom come under attack, this question of faith is critically important.  “What is the faith professed grounded in?”  What informs the faith we profess?  “What are the biblical interpretations?” The Apostle Paul instructs his protégé in 2 Timothy 2: 15: “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a worker that need not be ashamed.” Faith is an advocate for horizons of grace, to awaken fully to the breadth, width and yes, the messiness of earthly communal sacred life.

It is necessary to examine our faith, to turn it over, to look under the hood, to kick the tires, to get an alignment of sorts, if you will, to ensure that the faith we profess, and biblical interpretations align with Jesus and his profound teachings of radically inclusive love and mercy as outlined in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters  5 – 7). Those who fail to take their faith seriously, to examine their faith, run the very real risk of a faith that is false, becoming a denial of Jesus Christ and his Gospel. The Apostle Paul in his second letter encouraged the Corinthian Church to examine themselves, to see whether they were in the faith. To test themselves. To realize that Jesus Christ was in them —unless indeed they fail to meet the test! When examining our faith, it is not only about action or inaction, in a material or economic sense, those should be considered secondary to the journey of the soul.  It is the journey of the soul which must frame the conversations when examining our faith when it comes to diversity, inclusion and being attentive to the cares and concerns of God as expressed by Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.  Another question to engage as we take our faith seriously is, “What nourishes our faith?”  What is the sustenance which strengthens and matures our faith?”

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”  -Simone Weil

Philosopher, writer, mystic and political activist for the working class, Simone Weil (1909 – 1943), wrote in her 1942 letter to poet Joë Bousquet, “Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” Taking our faith seriously as Simone Weil did, enables a deeper engagement of the issues of life, to address those issues with a generosity of heart.  In this, I am reminded of the hospitality shared by many in the Civil Rights movement, the LGBTQ movement, and the Sanctuary Movement.  The issues we face today demand a generosity of heart which sustains movements that engage Global Warming, Healthcare, the War Economy and other concerns.

In closing, God imparts faith to all (2 Peter 1:1, Galatians 2:20) and it is this faith that must be employed to express God’s radically inclusive love in the world.  The seriousness of our time compels a faith taken seriously. In times past God called forth Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, Harriet Tubman and others to overcome the injustice of their day.  In our time God calls us to do no less than to address the injustice, sins and evils a society that have no shame. Therefore, each of us must take seriously the faith imparted to us by God.

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We, the Disciples LGBTQ+ Alliance, are members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), called to join in God’s work of transforming the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) into a just and inclusive church that welcomes persons of all gender expressions and sexual identities into the full life and leadership of the church.

We invite you to work with us as we set a place at the table for all. AllianceQ considers essays, news, reflections and related content for publication on an ongoing basis with editorial discretion. Send submissions or questions to alliance@disciplesallianceq.org.

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