As We Are One

EPISODE 44

Lectionary Text:

John 17:20-26

Reflection:

“That they may be one, as we are one”. 

Entering this Pride month, we wanted to give space for queer and trans history in the midst of our Oratio reflections and lectionary readings—to give space to the connections of Queer/Trans Liberation movement, and to the Spiritual Liberation movement that we find ourselves in.

The breath of one informs and gives breath—and new life—to the other. And so it goes with queerness and with God. 

The picture that John 17 gives us of this Spiritual Liberation movement is intimately tied to the Queer and Trans history we know: Jesus, in this passage, is in the midst of the last supper; he has broken bread and wine, and affirmed the importance of the community around him. He prays for them. And then, Jesus expands to us. And what does Jesus ask for us, on behalf of us, hope for us?

Jesus asks that we—the ones who will come after, the ones who will work for Truth, Love, Hope, and Justice years after he has been killed—he prays that we, will know the purpose of liberation, and the way it all starts: He prays, for Community. 

As you, Creator, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…so that they may be one, as we are one. (17:21-22)

The foundation of this Spiritual Liberation movement; the beginnings of it centuries ago, and this place we are in now, is also at the center of our Queer/Trans Liberation movements today and in the past:

These movements are founded in relationship, and they are led BY the outcast—not by the people in power; not by those who will not listen and move and grow with the community. The movement is the community.

On May 11, 2019, Cuban LGBTQ+ activists held an unauthorized, independent pride march in the capital of the city of Havana. 

Without permission from the government. They did this, because the governing body on LGBTQ events and issues in Cuba—the Center for Sex Education—had canceled their annual pride celebration (which they call a “Conga”) because “certain groups were planning to use the event to undermine the [Cuban] government”. 

But independent Cuban activists, in a regulated, police state, marched anyway. They demonstrated anyway. They risked arrest and harassment anyway. The state of Cuba and its stance on LGBTQ+ issues, simplistically, is this: 

For oppressors, power and control will always be more important, than true freedom, equity, and expression. In other words, power and control will always come first. On paper and in policy and rhetoric, Cuba is against homophobia. But in practice and in history, control and power is and has always been more important.

But they marched anyway.

Because the movement does not rely on permission from those in power. The movement does not rely on the structures in place to give us our freedoms or to permit us our flourishing and thriving. The movement does not expect oppressive doctrine, government, theology, practices, or interactions to allow us space to live, and celebrate. 

The movement gets permission, gets enlivened, gets regenerated from its community. The movement relies on, is strengthened, is challenged and grown because of its community. And the movement is founded on, born from, and led by its community.

Friends, the prayer of Jesus for God’s Liberation movement—and by extension the Queer and Trans Liberation movement (encompassing many identities)—is that we may be one. 

As God, as Messiah, as Spirit are one. It means we are in communion, in movement, and creating freedom from, and because of—our community with one another. 

At the foundation of the universe is relationship. We see it in nature; we see it in our spirituality; we see it in ourselves and our humanity.

Friends, may we know that as we celebrate the places we have come from and the battles we have won, that the echoes of this Jesus Prayer is still our foundation today. 

We must be together; we must be one, in community, vast and varied and diverse and also committed to the tension and hope of our relationships. Community; with one another is still where we begin; still how we move forward; still the way in which the world will be liberated. Together. In community. 

Amen.