Please forgive the error. The wrong blog was posted this morning.
Gender matters because we do not create ourselves. We have a Creator who made us to reflect something of Himself in our bodies as male and female. Our gendered humanity is not an accident. It is an ordination. No matter how much we devalue ourselves as gender beings, One remains true in His favor upon our distinctly masculine or feminine selves. We who disagree with Him contribute to our own disintegration.
Or we can concur that His will is our freedom. No matter how deep the discord in our souls, we can aspire to true happiness. We can stretch our hands and our hearts to become a more whole expression of Him whose image we bear. In these bodies! Our form takes on meaning in light of the one next to us whose very difference highlights our own and draws us into wholeness. Enjoy this story of a recently married man who aspired to a life beyond ‘gay’-identification.
‘I love being married. We’re only 2 weeks in, but it’s absolutely wonderful. For those of us on the journey out of SSA, we tend to emphasize healthy friendships with other men. But I must say, being married has helped me to understand and embrace my masculinity as nothing else has.
On our honeymoon there was a moment when my wife and I happened to be standing next to each other in front of a nearly full length mirror, in our birthday suits. Just seeing the male and female next to each other—our bodies—I suddenly understood the beauty and wonder of the differences between the genders. Mine is angular, defined, strong, hers is gentle, soft, inviting. And they make sense only that mine is created for hers and hers for me, to be given to each other as a gift.
Although I have always been physically attracted to my wife, I am more filled with awe and wonder at the beauty of her body with each passing day. There is something glorious about the feminine body as God created it, something especially glorious when it is a precious gift given to you and only you by the person you love most in the world. Her body is beautiful, just as a sunset is beautiful, or an undiscovered land lit by the morning light. I look at her and catch my breath, and wonder how God could be so good as to give her to me.’
Jesus invites us to aspire to freedom in our gendered bodies. We who aspire become His re-creation and glimpse in each other the dawn of a new day.
A young man who repented as a teen from ‘gay’ identification, Nate is growing into his masculinity as Jesus grows within him. I have the privilege of summoning what I see in this progressively robust man of God. Nothing brings me greater joy.
It is easy. Nate says ‘yes’ to Jesus and Jesus guides him into getting what he needs. You like me are called to confirm that growth in the lives of our fellow Christians. In the Spirit of John the Baptist, we can see Jesus growing in others, and speak out the truth of His Real Presence in their lives. That is the essence of Christian community. And its first and most beautiful expression lies in our fourth Advent reading—the visitation of newly pregnant Mary with her cousin Elizabeth (LK 1:39-45).
As soon as Mary sees Elizabeth, the latter, now ripe with John the Baptist, is stirred up by the fiery prophet within who jumps for joy (v.44) to welcome the Christ growing in Mary. Even the fetal John makes straight the way of the Lord! He cannot help it; Jesus is in his midst and even a womb cannot contain him from summoning the prenatal Creator and Redeemer of all.
Elizabeth follows the lead of her precocious son but fulfills a different yet equally important task: to encourage Mary with a Spirit-inspired prophecy. We can infer that a 14-year-old who just discovered that she had been impregnated by God might need a little solidarity (understatement duly noted).
Mary ‘hastens’ to Elizabeth because she needs her. The Mother of God knew somehow that the new life growing in her cousin would summon the new life growing in her. ‘Blessed are you, Mary, for you have believed what the Lord said to you would be fulfilled’ (v.45). Elizabeth nails it: ‘You are not crazy Mary; you are and will be forever blessed. God is growing in you and I honor your faith!’
Each of us needs that encouragement from wiser ones who like us have walked in faith against a cruel, unbelieving culture. Elizabeth had been barren and socially scorned; Mary could have been stoned for her mysterious pregnancy. They knew God alone had masterminded the divine gifts growing within them. Their bond of faith was profound and essential for the fulfillment of that faith.
Similarly, we whom Jesus leads out of any barren, shameful land need fellow pilgrims. We need the holy-wrinkled who have endured the desert longer. Jesus in our fellow humanity is stronger than Jesus in our own hearts. Why else do we go to church? Sorry, I do not go just to find my Head. I go to find His body. I need another to see and summon the Christ growing in me.
And I have the mutual privilege of summoning Jesus in my brother or sister. Nothing grants me greater joy than looking for the one in whom Jesus waits to be summoned behind a veil of sin or sadness. To be filled with the Spirit of John the Baptist or Elizabeth, my spirit leaping so I just have to say why ‘you’ are such a beautiful gift to this church…that is my joy.
We all hold promises in our hearts that need to be dusted off and reconfirmed in our believing communities. Go ahead. Be a prophet. Summon the divine life seated next to you at church. ‘Blessed are you who believe that what God has said to you would be fulfilled’(LK 1:45)!
Please Read The Desert Stream 2015 Year End Newsletter