Faith: Our Place at the Table

SFGN File Photo

It is important to remember the story of Stonewall. The same way that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in the fight against racism, the LGBT person who refused to give up her seat at the Stonewall Inn because of homophobia also changed history.

Both took a seat in order to take a stand!

In the gospel of Mark 7:24-30, we are told of another woman who had trouble claiming her seat. The Syrophoenician woman’s child was sick and needed healing. She crossed cultural, societal, religious and political norms and barriers to seek healing for her loved one. I am sure that when she told her family her intent to travel days to seek a man for help that she did not know and had only heard about, that they were not supportive in any way. Her husband probably forbade her to go and she went anyway!

And once she found the man they called Jesus, he initially turned her away from the table and refused to help her. There are many scholarly theories regarding why Jesus acted this way towards her. Yet, Jesus told her to leave. The Syrophoenician woman took a stand and insisted that she was worthy to receive God’s blessing and after she did, Jesus then healed her child. In other words, when she claimed her place at the table, Jesus invited her to not only sit down but to join him. He also broke all cultural, societal, religious and political rules, laws and norms in not only speaking to an unknown Gentile woman but helping her in any way.

Preachers don’t speak very often about this biblical text because Jesus’ initial behavior isn’t that of the Jesus we normally read about. But it’s a valuable lesson for all to take a stand against any type of oppression in any form.

And that’s what happened at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. The LGBT person made the decision to keep her seat in order to take a stand. Her stand began a movement that today has changed the world forever. It’s also a lesson for us to never doubt that a single person can make a difference. The fact that I can now either officiate a same-sex wedding or personally marry a same-sex person is part of that change and to her we must all be grateful. We have more work to do, but it began at the Stonewall Inn so let’s not only celebrate this month but remember always!