My beloved wife has settled into a pattern for now where she alternates her attendance weekly between the Roman Catholic and Episcopal churches. The RC parish is her home community of many years, where she has strong roots, and deep and loving friendships. Aside from the people, however, she feels institutionally remote and on the outside, and since the November election has chosen not to receive Communion there. By contrast, the Episcopal Cathedral, where we know no one, is an explicitly welcoming community, and she fully partakes. I tag along for the music, and I've told you about it previously here, here, and here.
This weekend we were being Episcopalian, and (typically running behind) we were dashing down the freeway for the city. BP who was driving, made a little "huh" noise, and I looked over to see us passing a car with a YES ON PROP 8 sticker on the back, along with another that read "AMERICA UNDER GOD." The people in the car looked mean and humorless. "How ironic," I said to BP, "it's us lesbians who are racing to get to church!"
The Cathedral was as usual pretty crowded with a very wide demographic (and as usual fantastic music ;-). After the readings, the Dean began his sermon. I like his sermons; they are erudite, but still approachable, and as a teacher myself, I enjoy following the way he weaves patterns around his theme. Given this week's readings, he talked about laws: following "Godly laws," of course, but he also pointed out that that Jesus was a lawbreaker, which led to a consideration that civil laws can be unjust and demand to be peacefully resisted or overturned.
He talked for a bit about William Wilberforce and his battle to eliminate the slave trade in Britain, and of course invoked Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Tutu, Mandela, and Oscar Romero as examples of people who fight unjust laws to maintain the great commandments of loving God and thy neighbor (see how he does it with weaving those threads? He's good.)
You can see where this is going, and by this time BP and I were holding hands tightly and staring fixedly at the Dean. "We see another example in Proposition 8," he began, citing the court case, and saying that while he hopes the court overturns the amendment, he is not confident they will. "But, " he went on, "in this Cathedral, we welcome those couples who want to live faithful, committed lives " and now BP and I have tears coursing down our cheeks as he goes on to explicitly welcome People Like Us. In Mass. None of this Don't Ask Don't Tell baloney. As BP said simply, "Wow."
And then he said something very important. "You may not agree," he said, "and that's fine." He made it clear that people of good faith can and do disagree, as families do, but the important thing is to come together in the common things that unite us and truly Godly laws. As in, Love each other. (That wasn't all there was in the sermon by a long shot but it is the part that grabbed us hard.)
As BP and I approached the doorway after Mass, the Dean didn't even wait for us to open our mouths to thank him. Without hesitation, he simply gathered each of us into a great big hug. (He obviously saw us weeping through that part of his sermon). If any of our readers are from the Cathedral of San Diego, tell Scott thanks, from the blogger IT and her wife. (Don't be shy about saying "hi" in the comments, either!)