Monday, July 4, 2011

Προς Γαλάτας • God For All

Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back, laughing, with Luke Skywalker's pen-light.

Yesterday (Sunday 7/3/2011) I attended the afternoon church service at City Of Refuge ("COR"). It is an inner-city UCC congregation in San Francisco, near the corner of 6th and Howard Streets in the transition zone between SoMa and the Tenderloin. Definitely a neighborhood where Jesus would have ministered.

Being that it was the middle of a holiday weekend, attendance was not so high. But that was OK because these folks have some hard-core Jesus up in that place!

The fabulicious Bishop Yvette Flunder -- a black lesbian -- founded COR in direct response to anti-gay theology in the black community, as well as in response to the reprehensible lack of compassion shown to people with HIV/AIDS. COR focuses on being intentionally radically inclusive. And I *like* it.

There were old Mexican lesbians. There was a transgender lady whose mini-skirt was more mini than skirt. There were old African American church ladies, dressed to the nines. There were some younger black folks, also spiffily dressed. There was a plain ol' white lesbian or two, some Asian ladies, a lot of "obviously gay" black folk, and a few -- two -- hella f'ing hot gay white men ... well, one of them was hot and the other one was... well, let's just say that if an artist drew a rendition of the perfect man for me, it would look like this guy. I could not take my eyes off him. Sigh... and I even think there were a few straight people, eek! ;)

There was dancing in the aisles. There was gospel-singing. There was cheering, clapping, hootin-and-hollerin'. There were "can I get an AMENs" galore. And there was love. Genuine, all-embracing, unapologetic, bold, inclusive, STAND UP AND CLAIM YOUR PLACE AMONG GOD's BELOVED CHILDREN kinda love. "When you bought the ticket for the cruise, you bought the whole package. Walk up to the buffet and claim all of it. Take some of that glory over there, some of that joy right here, a full serving of the Salvation stew. It's all-you-can-eat. The WHOLE package." Liberation Theology at its finest!

The people at COR are serious Pentecostalists in the best way imaginable. The gift of the Cross, and the salvation that poured out on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit first descended into humankind, is still propagating outward from the Source. Thank God in Heaven for that.

I knew it was going to be a special experience from very early in the service:

Sitting at Peet's Coffee with my seminary-buddy Lee before the service, we talked about the power of Paul's Epistle to the Galatians and how it sits at the centerpiece of both my own walk into Christianity and historically was one of the prime inspirations for a guy named Martin Luther. God smiled. The New Testament scripture from which the opening of the service was framed... was... the portion of Galatians Chapter 5 about freedom in Christ.

Can I get an AaaaayA-men?!

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