Living In The Light

Although it is the season of Easter–the time when we celebrate the mystery of how Jesus died but is yet with us– in the context of serving an Open & Affirming church, I am still thinking of the Light which has come into the world. Even though it’s Easter, the Light makes me think of glass Christmas ornaments that have come to adorn my family’s Christmas tree. They are small and so very fragile, and sadly, some of them do not make it from year-to-year; but, many, perhaps hundreds, of them were given to me in a series of cardboard boxes by my special uncle. He showed up one day on my doorstep and said, “I want you to have these. You always showed an interest in my tree.”

Uncle Bob knew how to decorate a tree. To describe these glass ornaments as veritably dripping and oozing from the branches amidst the sparkling white lights does not even ably describe it. It was a labor of love that began long before we enjoyed the Thanksgiving bird and pumpkin pie. It was a site to behold, and one that I rarely missed. I would schedule my annual excursion to my “uncles” not just to see the tree, but the tree was a definite highlight of my visit. There are some in my family who might have referred to my “uncles” as roommates—I grew up knowing their identity as members of the same family and as people who loved each other (and me!) very much. Around our family’s table in the Deep South, they did not enjoy equality, however. There was never a celebration of an anniversary for them; in fact, I don’t recall anyone ever truly acknowledging the exact nature of their relationship. I am not sure that everyone who knew them knew they weren’t really just roommates or not. I am not sure when they served as elders at our local Disciple church that those folks had awareness of reality or quietly acknowledged who they were in that kind of “don’t ask, don’t tell” way that our society promoted for so long. That their love was a testament to which we can all be proud was recently reinforced as I looked through old family photo albums: there were my uncles holding me just hours old. In fact, they arrived a few hours after the birth of my own daughter…

Although my uncle by love is no longer part of this earthly realm, I think of him often. At Christmas when I carefully place those fragile ornaments on my own tree, I think of him. When I gaze upon the tree as the glass and crystal transforms the light, I pray for a time when all will know the radiant light of love. I think of a time when we will all be transformed and fit for the kingdom; when all, regardless of one’s sexual identity or expression of love granted to them by our Creator, will receive the Light of love and acceptance. I pray for a time when minds will change and hearts will be transformed so that darkness cannot persist. I am also mindful of this Light when serving at the table of the Lord. I pray for the day when all tables are Open & Affirming — in families’ homes, in informal gathering places, but especially in our congregations. We shall not only pray but also work for a time when all who extend the invitation to the holy meal and all who receive it are fully living out who they were created and called to be.