God with Skin On: The Need for Allies
A few weeks ago, Rev. Maggie Wellert, a local retired Moravian pastor, shared an illustration with our congregation. (Paraphrased here – various versions available online from a variety of sources.)
A little boy was awoken by a loud thunderstorm in the middle of the night. He cried out for his father who quickly rushed into the boy’s room. The boy told his father that he was frightened of the storm, and his father said, “But son, remember what you learned in Sunday School? God is always with us, even in the storms.” The boy replied, “I know that, but right now, I need someone with skin on!”
Have you ever felt that way? I know I have, especially lately. As I watch the President-elect appoint a cabinet of people with racist, sexist, and homophobic records; as I watch Congress try to repeal an overwhelmingly successful life-saving law; as I watch this election spark further acts of violence, I want God here. now. with skin on.
My own congregation continues to ignore many of these issues, refusing to become openly affirming for fear of losing the rent money we receive from a Pentecostal congregation that uses our sanctuary. I have had so many people come up to me and quietly say, “I wish we were more welcoming as well.” I want to scream at them, “So what are you doing about it?! Don’t tell me you agree with me and then stay silent!”
Today, our church had another guest preacher, Cory Bys, a seminarian from Princeton Theological Seminary. He defined the phrase apostles as “the sent ones.” That struck me – I had always heard of disciples as followers, but this idea of the sent ones seems to fit more with Jesus’ message to his “followers,” telling them to go out into the world. In other words, we aren’t to sit idly by – we are to go into the world and do. As apostles, we are sent.
Folks, this isn’t a small request. Right now, queer folks like me need allies. We don’t always have the strength to be the standard-bearers for inclusion in the church. We need God with skin on, and God answered our prayers by sending YOU. Faith family, we are ALL the sent ones, and we cannot afford to be silent any longer. I don’t want your wishes. I want your action.
29 “And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4: 29 – 31 (NRSV)