"Where's the Fire?"
Please pray with me. God, your child Jesus taught us that we should love one another; your Spirit teaches us your truth and love; give us now the strength to love each other—not just the people we know, but each person who needs our love, even those who hate us. Give us the wisdom to speak your truth, the fire in our bones that
We’ve heard a reading from the Jewish prophet
"I am battle weary, bone tired, emotionally wasted and I could cry so easily. Not for myself but for those who must exist in this place of so much fear and hatred. I am profoundly sad."
The security guards were pushed further and further away from the bus, and the bus had begun to rock from the press of the people outside. I was sitting at the back of the bus and heard noises coming from the rear. I looked out the rear window and saw people ripping pieces out of the engine of the bus. I passed the information forward, and the bus driver got out to investigate. As he got to the back of the bus, the protestors began hitting him and pushing him away. People were raising crosses and icons, and they were yelling; anger and hate made them look less than human. A group of young men, who had decided that I was particularly evil, were waving crosses and moved to the back of the bus with lighters raised, passing the flame closer and closer to the engine, taunting me and laughing.
On the bus people were trying to stay calm, and those of us with phones were calling embassies and the police. A couple of people panicked, wanting off the bus to take their chances with the crowd. We talked calmly to them, trying to ease their anxiety. Nine times we contacted the police, and nothing. We could see they were in the crowd in plain clothes but doing nothing. We had observers in the crowd who told us there were armed police officers between buildings, leaning against their cars, talking on cell phones but not responding. We could see the chief of police in the crowd, and we were told that he was telling the protestors what to do, colluding with the crowd. The Swedish embassy had spoken with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who contacted the police and was told that they would not respond even if there was violence. The mayor's office had set us up.
I was on my phone the entire time, calling the embassy and emailing back and forth with
The tension was thick, we had been sitting like this, being shaken and taunted for 30 minutes. The crowd had grown, and they were getting more and more riled up. Two protestors broke onto the bus. They were religious leaders who said they could keep the crowd from killing us if we handed over all of our banners and the Moldovan Flag and destroy the balloons. Hand over hand, the banners moved forward. "Tolerance", "Would Jesus discriminate?", "Would God hate?", "For God so loved the world", "Love your neighbor as you love yourself", "Stop Discrimination", "Human Rights for
As we gained speed, the crowd surged after us - older women running with icons raised and fists clenched, young people running, yelling and pounding on the sides of the bus. The bus driver was supposed to take us out of town but instead took us back to the Gender-doc offices, exactly where the crowd would look for us. He was too traumatized to take us from the city. People from the bus scattered; only ten of us remained, trying to decide what we should do next. Police cars were at the corner. Then security people arrived; they said the crowd was on its way. They had received a message from the police telling them where we were.
Ten people braved the police presence and gathered to study together. It took such courage for them to arrive and participate. There is such a hunger for God and for understanding, and I wonder what would happen if we had to fight in North America, Western Europe, and
As we met, the landlady came to the apartment to see if we were having a worship service. The police had visited her and told her we were holding illegal worship services.
I cried when I read this for the first time. Besides the obvious danger to
And then I turned to my other emails, to my work here in
Where is our fire?
Sometimes I just don’t know what to do…we as a community have so much to be grateful for, and it seems to me that we waste these good things, we take them for granted. People complain about Pride—“The men are running everything,” or “the women don’t want the men at their events” or “There’s nothing for kids,” or “those crazy drag queens are just too bizarre.” We are spoiled!! As
How can we be silent? How can we act as if things are well for us, for our sisters and brothers around the world, when they are not? Not only in
Do you feel the fire, church? Do you feel that divine flame in your heart and soul and bones? Yes, we have most of our rights and the law on our side—but there’s still education needed, even here in
In the States and
Where is the fire, church?! Where is your fire? Yes, we’re small in
I don’t know what speaking the truth might look like for you as individuals. Each of us has to hear God’s direction for ourselves. I don’t know what it might look like for the church—I have some ideas, but we as a congregation, as a church, must listen for that guidance together.
It is not enough to sit in church on Sunday, to feel good about ourselves because we have been to church, sung a couple of hymns, heard some scripture and a sermon, put our loonie in the plate, shared Communion, had some coffee afterwards and gone home to a BBQ with the neighbours.
That’s lazy Christianity—it’s not what we are called to.
God’s eye is on the sparrow, and on us. Do you think the one who put that truth in our hearts will abandon us when we speak that truth, when we live it out in the world!? Of course not! Jesus knew what it was to be hated and scorned, to be condemned for the company he kept, to be mocked and teased and bullied—and to be killed, ultimately, for the truth he knew in his bones.
We will not be abandoned. We who speak truth to power—whether it is political power or economic power or religious power—we who speak truth from the fire in our souls will not be alone. God will be with us to strengthen and encourage us, to give us words to say and courage to lift us up when we are terrified. Our
Sometimes I feel like I’m preaching to the choir—usually the folks I see on Sundays are the ones who do feel God’s truth. But do we get tired sometimes, and want to stop telling that truth? Do we get weary of being scorned, of having our concerns politely shunted aside or ignored or condescended to? Do we get so tired of it that we quit, and say, “Forget it. I’ll go to church, because I should and because I need the presence of my sisters and brothers in
We cannot rest, we cannot set it aside, we cannot quit, we who feel God’s truth life fire in our souls and hearts and spirits. We cannot be silent, and we cry out that truth in spite of the scorn, the anger, the ignorance, the hatred and violence. We will not become complacent and rest on what we have—because until all our sisters and brothers are free, we are not truly free.
Feel that fire—and speak that truth.
In all God’s names, amen.