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6/12/22 Sermon

June 12, 2022 – Celebrating Trinity Sunday and Pride Sunday

Isaiah 55:12 (The Message) and Romans 5:1-5 (The New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition)

Rev. TJ Mack – Union Congregational Church of Hancock

Isaiah 55:12 – The Message

You’ll go out in joy,

You’ll be led into a whole and complete life.

The mountains and hills will lead the parade,

Bursting with song.

All the trees of the forest will join the procession,

Exuberant with applause.

Romans 5:1-5 – New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition

5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

I have quoted theologian Richard Rohr in the past. His words are in effect, “If it is true for one, it can be true for all. If it was true for Jesus, it can be true for us.”

Isaiah 55:12 – The Message

You’ll go out in joy,

You’ll be led into a whole and complete life.

The mountains and hills will lead the parade,

Bursting with song.

All the trees of the forest will join the procession,

Exuberant with applause.

This verse from Isaiah needs to be true for all of God’s children. We need to make it a reality for all of God’s children.

In a perfect world we would all know this to the depths of our souls. We would all know that we are celebrated by God and by all of God’s people.

Pride. Gay Pride is celebrated in the month of June around the world. The celebrations are designed to affirm the lives and loves of LGBTQ+ people everywhere – and to raise awareness of prejudices and injustices that still need to be addressed.

We take so much for granted. We tend to universalize our own experiences. If our own family of origin shows us unconditional love and respect and care we might tend to think that all others receive the same gifts, the same grace from their families. Of course, not all do. Some are rejected or neglected by parents, grandparents, siblings, extended families. Some are marginalized for how they present to the world, marginalized for who they love, marginalized because they don’t fit the confines of our narrow societal gender roles.

Our text from Romans has me thinking about our Trinitarian understanding of God.

These five verses that Peggy read for us this morning include the three most common names of our Trinitarian understanding of our Creator. God. Jesus Christ. Holy Spirit. Three in one. One God. Three intertwined entities. Using the new terminology we are encouraged to learn; one could say God is non-binary.

Let us pause and explore the definitions of binary and non-binary. As an adjective, binary is “relating to, composed of, or involving two things.” As a more specific definition for this discussion let’s look at a definition for gender binary, which “is the classification of gender into two distinct, opposite forms of masculine and feminine, whether by social system, cultural belief, or both simultaneously.”

Folx who do not fit into the male/female, masculine/feminine categories are thus non-binary. What does it mean? It means many of God’s children as they live into their whole and complete lives do not fit neatly into one gender identity or the other. And some of them refuse to try to limit who they are or hide who they are for the sake of society’s expectations, for the sake of society’s comfort. They choose to live and express themselves in ways that are right for them.

One would think that we might be able to extend our generosity of thought on our Trinitarian concepts of God to our human siblings. God as we read about God in the Bible and in our relatively newly found Nag Hammadi texts, is both male and female, and neither male nor female. If in fact we are made in the image of God (Imago Dei) then all of the wonderful and diverse expressions of humanity (gender and sexual identities and expressions) are in fact God given, God accepted, God affirmed.

A question for you… How can thinking of God in a Trinitarian way, and a non-binary way, inform and maybe even increase your understanding of God? A new question I have been asking myself lately… What are God’s pronouns? Many of us have gotten more comfortable over the years with God not only as He/Him/His; but also, God as She/Her/Hers; and now even God as They/Them/Theirs. I certainly believe our God can be expressed in all these ways. And that we are made in these myriad images of God.

We also have many names for God that are gender neutral, names that don’t assume pronouns.

God as Creator, Lawgiver, the One.

God as Messiah and Lord, Savior, Liberator, Redeemer.

God as Holy Spirit, Wind and Flame, Advocate, Comforter.

God cannot be hemmed in by our words, our categories. God is all this and so much more. Can we allow the expansiveness of our understanding of God to inform and increase our understanding of one another, especially our LGBTQ+ siblings? Especially any that are marginalized in our worldwide societies?

We are more than our gender identities and expressions, more than our sexual orientations, more than who or how we love. God is unbounded by human definitions and ideas of what or who God is. And we should be too. Some of our queer siblings are brave enough and bold enough to be unbounded by the limiting binary definitions placed on them by society. Let us embrace them! Let us make it safe for all to be themselves without fear of being taunted, harmed, or killed.

(Note: Definitions are important. And yes, they change over time. The word queer used to be a homophobic slur. Now the word queer is an affirming umbrella term for those with LGBTQ+ identities.)

The Romans text read today is about the human struggles all around us. Can we approach the struggles that we all share, individually and as co-inhabitants of this earth, with the same grace God bestows upon us? Less concern about differences and more concern about unity and love?

In the coming days and weeks I encourage you to give more thought to your pronouns. And the pronouns of others. Don’t take them for granted, ask. When you meet someone new it is becoming a sign of respect to ask what their pronouns are. We can learn to respect the majesty and mystery not only of the fullness of God – but also of all of God’s beloved humans.

Yes, if we can wrap our hearts and minds around a Triune God, we can wrap our hearts and minds around all gender expressions, all gender identities, all people as God made them and as they may become.

This morning we have a “You Are Loved” flag hanging in our sanctuary. You are Loved. Yes, You! No matter who you are. No matter where you are on life’s journey. You are loved. You are welcome here. Today. Tomorrow. Always.


Rev. TJ Mack – June 12, 2022

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