- March 5, 2019
People -- including the LGBTQ faithful -- look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration. Throughout the Lenten season, HRC will share devotionals from faith leaders, LGBTQ people and allies. The campaign seeks to create an environment in which LGBTQ people of faith and their allies can practice the spiritual traditions of their faith in a welcoming, inclusive environment.
The Lenten season marks the days leading up to Jesus' crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. For Christians, the resurrection is both a celebration of life and a reminder that people continue to suffer, including members of the LGBTQ community.
It is important to note that the season of Lent is observed by many Christian denominations and may not resonate with all readers. With this series, HRC seeks to amplify and honor the voices of LGBTQ-affirming faith leaders in many religious traditions.
Today’s post is a reflection on Joel 2:1-17, and it comes from Susan Cottrell of FreedHearts, a national coalition of parents of LGBTQ children.
For more about the Lenten Devotional, visit hrc.im/Lent.
Lent was never part of my faith tradition growing up. It belonged to the Catholic kids in my neighborhood, which was everyone but me because my family was not religious. All I remember is folks receiving ashes on their foreheads.
I’ve since figured out its meaning: Lent is a time to repent and return to God. The 40 days symbolize Jesus’ time of prayer and fasting in the wilderness. The neighborhood kids’ sacrifice of chocolate or TV for Lent echoed the fast.
What about this repenting and returning to God? And what does that mean today on Ash Wednesday? Of course, I want to see the wealthy and powerful repent. I long to see those who exclude and oppress return to God.
But what about the people who have been bullied or excluded simply for their skin color, sexual orientation or poverty? How do those with shattered lives repent and return to God?
The people in today’s passage from Joel face shattered lives. The “day of darkness” is an infestation of locusts, which arrives and devours crops. It’s like an apocalypse.
“Why is God so angry as to destroy our crops,” they wonder. The prophet calls them to repent and return to God, to turn away God’s fierce anger.
But even in this early theology, the writer reveals God’s beauty. God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. God relents from punishing!
Yes, we repent. We change our thinking.
Yes, we return to God to restore our own peace.
But God meets us in our lament with love, mercy and grace. We are not worms crawling on our unworthy bellies to God. No, we bear God’s image! Soak that in.
We get to bask in the love that is God, and then we get to go be that love to a world that desperately needs it.
The Lenten Devotional is a faith-driven resource that compiles meditations written by 47 faith leaders from across the U.S. This project and other public education work with faith leaders in HRC's Project One America states and HRC's Religion and Faith Program is made possible in part by the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.