- February 15, 2018
People look to their faith as a source of guidance and inspiration – and LGBTQ people and our family and friends are no different. 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 that lead 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 an observance of many Christian denominations and may not resonate with all readers. Throughout this series, HRC seeks to amplify and honor the voices of LGBTQ-affirming faith leaders in many religious traditions.
Today’s post is featured below in English and Spanish and comes from Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, North Carolina Conference, United Methodist Church. For more about the Lenten Devotional, visit hrc.im/Lent.
“Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.” -Matthew 5:7
In these Lenten days, let us give thanks for the character of our God.
“The Lord, the Lord, a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” God speaks these words in Exodus 34:6. Moses and God have alternately lost patience with the people of Israel, tempering the disappointment of one another in timely ways. The golden calf has been fashioned and smashed. The tablets of the law have been given and smashed. God instructs Moses to take new tablets to the mountaintop. I imagine God taking a deep breath as a fresh start. The Holy One speaks the beautiful description of divine character: God “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
These words describing God resound throughout the Bible and are repeated in Nehemiah and Nahum, Jonah and Joel, and Psalms and Proverbs. The New Testament also echoes the resonance through the teaching and example of Jesus and the experiences of Mary and Matthew, Paul and Lydia, Dorcas and Peter.
Jesus invites: Bear the life of God, be merciful just as God is merciful. The journey challenges. In the novel “A Man Called Ove,” Ove's friend struggles with the marriage of his son. He confesses to Ove, "It is hard to change when you have been wrong for a very long time." Yet he changes and blesses the marriage.
We rejoice when hearts change. We seek justice for all people, space for the full participation of all people, abundant life for all people, affirmation for all people. We do this in imitation of God.
We pray for the church of Jesus Christ and for all people of faith. Many have been wrong for a very long time. We pray for these hearts to change.
May hearts become tender and whole. May the capacity increase to legislate and proclaim welcome to all people, especially LGBTQ persons, into faith communities.
This is God's deep desire for us, God's intent for us, across the ages and forevermore.
Gracious God, we pray this day for all communities of faith and for the LGBTQ persons who continue to be welcomed with hesitancy or not welcomed at all. We confess this as contrary to God's creative and gracious will. Redeem communities of faith for gracious and prophetic witness in our broken world, we pray. Amen.
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.