One of my British friends recently asked me about my thoughts on the Eucharist. I explained my belief in Transubstantiation yet also my deep respect for not trying to define a mystery of the Divine. Somewhere along the way the conversation turned to the GAFCON churches in Africa. I expressed how reluctant I would be to attend given their stance on Queer folks; to me, I explained, that would be not only an unwelcoming environment, but also a dangerous one. He seemed a little put off, noting that he would just ignore them for it is his right and privilege as a Christian to exist in that space (something I fully respect and agree with). Out of nowhere, my tongue swiped away some of the dust from the cracked window of my heart to reveal, just for a moment, the hurt I hold onto as having lived as a gay man in homophobic churches for most of my life. I said, “I don’t make a habit of sharing Eucharist with people who actively seek my downfall.” How prideful is that!? I choose to not break bread and share cup with my would-be enemies when the Savior not only sat down to dinner with, but also washed the feet of the man he knew for sure had sold him for a slave’s price.
For many years, I thought being attracted to men was a mountain to be climbed and conquered, in other words, the cross I was to carry, die on, and arise from triumphantly as a happy heterosexual. While I no longer believe God asks me to deny my sexuality or repress it, to a certain extent I suppose that being gay is, in many ways, still my cross. My rainbow-hued cross affects many seemingly simple everyday actions; often it sadly feels as if my life’s purpose is to discover God through others’ rejection and disapproval. Joining at Mass with people who hate my presence or find my life disgusting is merely one example of that. Yet, as the Psalmist eloquently writes, “(…) those who sow in tears / reap with shouts of joy” (Psalm 126:5 NRSV). The pain we experience each time we embrace the crosses of this life can become beautiful encounters with grace whose effects reach farther than we could ever hope or imagine- sometimes even rippling out to touch those who have hurt us the most.
For Queer people, there is something tragically beautiful about the Jesus’ example for us. Not only do we have to sit at table with the normal host of folks with whom we have disagreements, but we are also asked to share the Body and Blood of Christ with people who consider us swine. That is rather hard to stomach. How can I become one body in Christ with people who think I should be cut off like a cancerous mole? Furthermore, how can God expect them to break bread with my Queer siblings and me? (I assume the Evangelical Right would accuse the Creator of infringing on their religious liberty, but I digress.) Yet, the Eucharist is about more than differing theologies, ideologies, or politics- it is the Sacrament by which we become one with one another, the Saints in Heaven, the struggling in Purgatory, and the Triune God whose love blazes brighter than noon’s sunshine. The Eucharist is our source of grace and hope and thanksgiving in this gloriously messed up world; do not be afraid to reach out your arms and receive the One who reached out His arms in love for all of us, Queer and Straight alike.
“As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:27-28 NRSV