The love of our queer God
unites us into one Body —
not in spite of, but in celebration of
our varied gifts and roles in
the story God is telling even now.
As one, let us affirm some of what we believe
about the God who is for us
when we are in the closet, and when we come out,
when we receive our loved ones with rejoicing
and when we strive to understand.
We believe in the God who came out to Moses
from the midst of unburned branches
with a name They had never revealed before —
a name shared with love, shared as an invitation
into deeper relationship, deeper understanding
of the God Who Is and Who Will Be
the steadfast ally of shunned and shackled peoples.
We believe in the God of Joseph,
who takes tattered lives
and weaves them into wholeness.
When Joseph came out to his brothers
as a dress-draped dreamer
and faced their violent rejection,
God went with Joseph into slavery, into imprisonment,
and out again, guiding his way into flourishing.
But They also stayed
with Joseph’s brothers,
never ceasing to work on their hard hearts,
preparing them for the tearful reunion
where they would embrace Joseph’s differences
as life-bringing gifts.
We believe in the God of Esther,
who protected her from being outed unwillingly
in a place hostile to her very being;
and who, when the time came to act,
filled her with the courage and power she needed
to use what privilege she had
to save the more vulnerable members of her people.
We believe in the God of Mary,
the teenage girl who faced disgrace
by coming out as full of grace,
pregnant with divinity —
yet she did so boldly, joyously,
recognizing the hand of God
in the status quo’s upturning.
We believe in Jesus, whose identity
as God’s beloved son and God Themself,
as Word made Flesh and Life that died
is too complex for human minds to fathom —
yet Jesus yearned to be known,
to be understood by those who loved him most!
He asked them earnestly, “Who do you say that I am?”
but told them not to out him to the world
before he was ready to share his truth in his own time —
And oh, how he’d shine!
We believe that the God
who liberated Lazurus from his tomb,
and who overcame death
by rising from a tomb of his own,
is the selfsame Spirit
who enters into the tombs
we build around ourselves
or shove our neighbors into;
She looses our bindings
and pulls us into Her great Upturning.
About this piece:
I wrote this affirmation for my church’s More Light Sunday service, an LGBTQA/queer-focused service. Themes included learning how to love ourselves, our neighbors, and our God; reclaiming scripture from those who have weaponized it; and the power of story.
If you this piece it in your own service, please credit it to Avery Arden — and I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’re using it!
For more on Joseph through a queer & trans lens:
- My sermon “Joseph Comes Out: Genderqueer thriving, reconciliation, and centering the margins“
- The section on this webpage titled “Joseph’s princess dress“
- “(Gender)queering Joseph” by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
- Episode 21 on this webpage: “How are trans persons like Shiva, Joseph, and Joan of Arc?“
For more on Esther through a queer lens:
- “Esther – a ‘coming out’ story“
- Peterson Toscano’s commentary on the eunuchs of the Book of Esther
- Kittredge Cherry’s “Esther, Vashti, and eunuchs on Purim: Queer models for just a time as this“
For more on Mary through a queer & trans lens:
- The section on this webpage titled “Mary’s Transgressive Yes“
- “Mary, Mother of Us, Your Transgender Children“
- “‘Virgin’ Mary, teen mom“
- “Advent Is the Time of Mary“
- My sermon focused on Joseph as a model for those who want to be allies, based on his journey to accepting and supporting Mary
- Poem to Our Lady of the Wayside
For more on Jesus through a queer & trans lens:
- My podcast episode 32, “A Queer Nativity: God’s Transition, Mary’s transgressive yes, ally Joseph”
- My short sermon on how Jesus didn’t conform to gender roles, and his longing to be seen (“Who do you say that I am?”)
- The section on this webpage titled “Assigned Male at Incarnation: An Intersex and Transgender Jesus“
- My tumblr tag “trans Jesus“
- Jesus in Love’s descriptions of a gay Jesus
For more on Lazarus through a queer & trans lens:
- Poem by Keaton St. James
- Kittredge Cherry’s article “Lazarus: Was He Jesus’s Beloved Disciple?”