My partner knew a woman once who would cross the street when she saw Rosean coming so that she wouldn’t have any contact with her. This was because this woman knew Rosean was a lesbian.
Eventually this woman admitted that she, too, was a lesbian. She faced the agonizing process of coming to terms with a radically different understanding of herself and the world. This had separated her from family, colleagues, and friends. She had, to paraphrase Shakespeare, been protesting way too much. In her very soul she had always been a lesbian.
In our passage today from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks to us across millennia from the bedrock of his faith. He describes that stumbling block that he, himself, fell over, landing hard, blinded, on the road to Damascus. It was simply this: Christ, the Messiah, crucified.
To a Pharisee who observed to perfection the purity laws, the idea of a bloody, naked Messiah, powerless and on display before everyone in his helplessness as he died, must have been beyond abhorrent. It must have been incomprehensible. But Paul had been protesting way too much. In his soul he had always been a Jesus-follower.
A couple of nights ago Dr. Melanie Rosa, lead pastor at United Methodist Church here in Fort Collins, spoke as part of a panel of people of many faiths sharing how their spiritual practices sustain them in this time of crisis. I was deeply moved by her succinct description of progressive Christianity.
“In the progressive Christian tradition,” she said, “we believe that God is best defined by Jesus but not confined to Jesus. This is important in light of Christian exceptionalism and elitism that is all too common. We don’t believe that God is confined in any way, nor that Christians have a monopoly on truth. God cannot be confined by any person, place or thing. But God for us is best defined by Jesus. Our purpose, we believe, is to look for God, and in finding God to love God, and in loving God to love all creatures and all creation.”
My heart leapt at her words. Yes, that’s it in a nutshell. Look for God and in finding God, love.
I cannot pretend to understand the crucifixion, not totally. After all these years it still doesn’t make sense to my thinking. But my heart, on the other hand — my heart totally gets it. In my soul I have always belonged to Christ Jesus.
“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.” Amen, I say, amen.