By Vicar Lenny Duncan
As I reflect on the readings for “Christ the King” Sunday a few things have occurred to me that I want to share. For some pastors and preachers this can be a problematic text. There is the usual amount of Matthew drawing lines about who is in and who is out.
Then the text takes it up a notch.
Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Eternal fire. I mean for those of us who are grace-centric and want the Church to be a healing salve to a wounded world, and no longer the source of hurt, this text is hard to wrestle with.
The typical choice preachers make is to just focus on the first half of the Gospel reading. To solely focus on the incredible promise interwoven in this text: when we walk with those on the margins of society we get to meet the savior of the world. It is on the margins we meet the Son of God.
I was on my way home from a concert last night and I saw Jesus. She was a trans woman of color at the Walnut Locust subway stop here in Philly. Carmel colored skin and smiling, she had just laid down some cardboard and a new looking sleeping bag. She slipped off her heels while chatting with a friend and laughing with abandon.
As a teen I was homeless in that area. I slept on that same corner a few times, and was saved as a 13-year-old many times by trans woman of color.
Ya’ know- Jesus.
Many of us for the sake of “grace” would stop the story there. I mean it saves us from the hermeneutical dancing of the second part of the gospel. Folks, that is straight up cheap grace.
We have been renouncing the devil and his forces since our baptism. What about ordination makes us so squeamish? Will we be only brave on clergy social media groups?
Team, it's simple and true -- White Supremacy is the fire prepared. Hetro Supremacy is the fire prepared. The Gender Binary is the fire prepared. Patriarchy is the fire prepared. Predatory economic systems are the fire prepared.
These things are evil. We need to name it. We need to name it. We are called as shepherds to separate the sheep from the goats. The life giving from the life erasing. The reason is simple: maybe the Kingdom of heaven is here. Maybe these gilded cages of racism, homophobia, transphobia, patriarchy, and perhaps even capitalism are the fire that burns forever. They are hell.
I am trapped by it. You are trapped by it. Whether oppressor or like me oppressed.
So, until a trans woman of color comes down on cloud to save us all, lets visit her in the subway. But let’s also name the evil that put her there. Enjoy Christ the Queen Sunday.