Faith Matters: Let’s expand our vocabulary

  • Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew decked out for the PRIDE day parade last year. Contributed photo

  • Above: The Rev. Heather Blais of the Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew in Greenfield. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Rector of The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew
Published: 6/12/2020 2:48:31 PM
Modified: 6/12/2020 2:48:17 PM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email religion@recorder.com)

It is time for us to join in the celebration of LGBTQIA+ pride. Now more than ever before, it is essential that we stand together and recognize the genuine worth of each and every human being.

In recent weeks, we have witnessed the detrimental effects of systemic racism and the growing gap between the haves and haves-nots in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the wider culture may choose to tolerate the principle of valuing some lives more than others, people of faith are called to stand up and challenge those dangerous cultural assumptions.

In the Episcopal faith tradition, we make a promise in our baptism to “... strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” We renew these promises on a regular basis in our worship. Of the five promises in our baptismal liturgy, this is the one that has changed my life the most. It keeps pushing me to challenge my own assumptions, to be stretched and grow, and ultimately to take action. These are the words that made me realize the historic marginalization of LGBTQIA+ folks in the Church was wrong and devastating to God. These are the words that mobilized me to join the marriage equality movement in and outside the Church.

This same promise causes me to struggle with the language we sometimes use in worship. Our tradition still draws heavily on masculine and binary language for God. Yet our Creator is so much bigger and mysterious than the language we have historically used. I believe God is calling us to expand our vocabulary and our understanding of the nature of God. The more we insist on sticking to the way we have always done it, the more we allow limited beliefs to restrict our understanding — and our relationships with — our Creator and one another. What if we were to all pause and consider the language we use to describe God and one another — in our daily lives and in worship? How does the language we choose shape our understanding of our Creator, our faith communities, and our understanding of one another?

I want to invite you to grapple with me. We do not have to get it perfectly on day one. What we can do is continue to examine our own assumptions and be more intentional in our language as people of faith. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and maybe you do, too. Yet I also know God delights in our desire to grow.

I wonder — how might you be called to “... strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being” at this particular moment in your life?

One way we can all respect human dignity this month is to celebrate LGBTQIA+ pride. Franklin County Pride has invited folks on June 27 at 2 p.m. (which is when the parade would have been kicking off) to go outside, ring a bell, clang some pots and pans, or sing a favorite song, “... so that we all know we’re still in this together.”

In the midst of this strange and uncertain time, let us be love in action. Let us strive for justice and peace, and respect the dignity of each and every beloved and beautiful child of God.

About the church

The Episcopal Church of Saints James and Andrew represents the 2017 merger of St. James, Greenfield and St. Andrew’s, Turners Falls. We believe that God is calling us to cultivate a community of love, joy, hope and healing. Jesus is our model for a life of faith, compassion, hospitality and service. We strive to be affirming and accessible, welcoming and inclusive; we seek to promote reconciliation, exercise responsible stewardship and embrace ancient traditions for modern lives. We currently offer virtual worship each Sunday at 10 a.m. live streamed on Facebook: www.facebook.com/saintsjamesandandrew. All are invited and welcomed.

Located at 8 Church Street, Greenfield, 413-773-3925, www.saintsjamesandandrew.org


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