On the first weekend in June, my partner and I served communion at our friendly LGBTQIA+ church and my heart touched the marvelous love of God in our beloved community. As a queer Christian, I took great joy in serving alongside my husband, he breaking the bread while I held the cup of salvation for anyone to receive this life-changing meal: tall drag queens and kindhearted lesbians, smiling trans folx and earnest allies, bashful children and beautiful gender non-binary friends, and dearly beloveds all across the beautiful queer spectrum, all welcomed into the loving arms of God, including my cherished queer self.
God calls me to queer joy because God isn’t ashamed of me, a Christian therapist who found God’s transforming love through meditation and community. As a native Texan who came of age in the early nineties, I was silenced from speaking about my bisexuality by my single dad and then-Christian therapist, which created a terrible pattern of self-abandonment, leading me to traverse the desert wastelands of toxic shame and fear. At the tender age of twenty, I converted to Christ and attended conservative churches, desperate to make friends and find community. Because I am straight-passing, I forged connections but was unable to be my authentic self, imbibing the lies that being queer is an abomination, something many of us heard over and over again. But then God showed up in an unexpected form: healing through Self-Compassion meditation.
After the long decades of heartache and a brief stint in seminary, I found myself called by God to attend online mediation sessions through the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. This seemingly incongruous call came during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, and over time, I experienced the healing and relief I’d only dreamt about. Through training and practice, I learned how to be kind and loving to myself, which liberated me from the grief I carried for so long. The wide and deep waters of God’s amazing love (Ephesians 3:18) was a gift I finally experienced as true. God is not ashamed of me and celebrates my sexuality as something that is good, true, and beautiful.
God’s call to practice meditation has served me well, enhancing my queer joy as I have sat in stillness, allowing God’s love and delight to sing over me (Zephaniah 3:17). But it gave me something else–practicing meditation gave me the courage to do justice for our queer family beginning with myself and extending outward. Our family chose to join Galileo Church, part of the Disciples of Christ denomination, because they practice a radical form of open communion, which means anyone who wants to partake in the ritual is welcome to do so. There are no membership checks, no declarations of baptism, no hierarchies that might prevent others from giving and receiving the gifts of God which are for everyone. The only requirement for receiving the elements is a desire to belong, a true gift for our queer community who have been denied access to this sacred meal.
When our Pastor Katie Hays blessed the elements on the first weekend of Pride month, I heard the soothing songs of God’s love flow over us. She reminded us this practice of open communion gives us the gift of each other, putting us back together into our beloved queer community. Like many of my church friends, I found the strength to come home to myself, just as God has welcomed us all home at Galileo Church, giving me the courage to come out to my family and church friends last fall, my queer joy magnified. And as I gave communion to others, I leaned in close, weeping a little as I experienced another aspect of queer joy: we cannot heal alone. Seeing the vulnerable faces of friends desiring to receive what’s rightfully theirs was a balm to my spirit, an affirmation of God’s love and care for us. Offering communion in a mindful and self-compassionate way, I stayed soft and strong, looking my fellow friends in the eye and earnestly wishing them all the love and peace I’d come to know through the practice.
Later that evening, I mused to my husband about breaking down barriers and allowing everyone to give and receive communion as a way to open to God and each other. What would it be like if the Christian leaders who condemn the LGBTQIA+ community were to give and receive communion as we had that night at Galileo Church? What would it be like if those who call Christ their home were to give bread and wine to everyone else too, looking into the eyes of the people who come to eat this meal? I’d like to think that God’s love is strong enough to help them see and honor that we queers belong to God, the Imago Dei stamped indelibly on our souls, just like them.
But in the interim of the longing for that not-yet world, I will keep choosing queer joy, basking in the glow of being fully accepted by God and Christ as I am, just as all my beloved queer friends are (Romans 15:7). What a gift queer joy is! As we step into God’s magnificent love and acceptance found in beloved community and practice, we overflow with blessings–to ourselves, each other, and to the healing of this beautiful living world.