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We’ve begun the Lenten journey toward Easter. It is acutely intense during Holy Week when we reflect on Jesus’ brutal suffering and death before celebrating his resurrection.

Suffering, death, and resurrection echo the journey of many in the LGBT community. It is, I suspect, a sacred path – one from which we can all learn to love more widely, more dearly.

Given the hostility toward gays, lesbians and particularly the transgender, I can only imagine the frightening aspects of concluding one is different in the eyes of the majority. Absent strong affirming messages, unhealthy self-perceptions can develop about being abnormal, broken, or bad. Tragically, family and churches can reinforce unholy judgements and even self-loathing.

I am profoundly sorry. No one should be confined to a closeted existence where they are tormented by demons of fear and shame. We repent of the pain caused in Christ’name and we are remorseful for denying the goodness in each other.

In Second Corinthians, St. Paul prayed repeatedly for removal of a thorn from his flesh. Rather than remove “the thorn,” God declared his grace sufficient. In effect, God tells Paul to accept his body.

It is wrong to scare or shame others into denying their true self in favor of living with an inauthentic persona – a mere shell of an outward image adopted in hopes of acceptance and survival. During Lent, there is talk of dying to one’s old self. I suspect our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters understand this message better than most, because you’ve likely had to lay to rest false images created for self-protection.

Easter is about abundant and authentic life. I invite you to worship in Christ’s Church at St. Nicholas. Worship as an authentic expression of what you’ve experienced and know you are loved by God ... and us.