The movie started and the kids were engrossed. The animation was charming, the story was safe for a diabetic, and Mary and Joseph were presented as people in a situation. They were much more human than I expected, there wasn’t a symphony playing every time Mary moved. She was young and scared. He was young and scared. And because of all that, I was pulled right back into the story.
I am a Christian.
Ever since I was a child, a bullied and teased child, I found respite in the idea of a loving God, and the proclamation ‘Jesus loves me, this I know …’ I felt safe harbour in my heart. I felt less alone. I’m a little embarrassed to admit this but when walking home from downtown at night, alone of course, my path would take me by the church I attended. The United Church of Canada. If it was dark out, which it often was, I would stop and do the cub salute that I had learned. I’d been attending the cubs for awhile and felt that that salute had a lot of meaning and respect in it. So I would stand there, and salute the church. The church, the place that I believed that God lived. I wanted to show thanks for the everydayness of my faith and for the promise made that I was loved. It was a message that slipped through the ‘fatsos’ and the ‘lardasses’ of my everyday existence. I loved God. I loved his son Jesus. I was grateful for the sense of otherworldly loving that I had when I prayed to them.
But that little boy has grown up. He is now a gay man. He is now a disabled man. He lives in very different times. In the last months, I have heard that I am responsible for wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes. I have heard that I am part of a community that wants to tear down society and uplift sin. I am told that the kiss Joe gives me when I leave for work is a kick at the very foundation of society. I have heard that I should be stoned to death, that there is no redemption for me, that my life is an offense to God himself.
It’s like every day I hear something said, by someone pronouncing their own faith, that tears mine down. I didn’t realize it but they have slowly been placing boulders and stones that bar the path back to that God that I knew, that Jesus who befriended me. I became fearful of anyone who called themselves Christians. They say that they are under attack, but they have no idea how frightening they are.
I live at the intersection of sexuality, disability and faith. I’m not sure what’s on the other corner and frankly I’m afraid to look. So I also experience those Christians who believe that my disability is evidence of my sin. This is without knowing that I am also gay. They want to pray for my healing. I don’t want their prayers. I am on the path that God set for me, something that almost no one understands.
Who God made.
Maybe it was a bad day for him.
But maybe not.
I watched the movie, the simple powerful story of Christmas, and I didn’t realize it at the time but that story and its reminder of my faith, my very young faith. It’s reminder of a boy standing saluting and showing respect for a church and a God that he loved, mattered. I left the movie and found, as I thought about it, that the boulders and stones had been pushed away. That the pure faith I had as a child was momentarily, just momentarily, available to me. And I felt so free.
But then the morrow comes.
And the news.
And the continued banging on the drum of hatred for me and mine and behind those drums I can hear the pathway being slowly rebuilt.
God is not for me.
His Son turns his face.
I hear. I understand. I fear.
But in my heart I had made room for God. And I await his next visit. Because I believe. I am His. Even if I’m told he can’t be mine.