God forces us into relationship with one another, through communion in Christ, on a mystical level, a level which we often cannot even perceive.
By Jordan Sandrock
As we move through the Easter season and look towards Pentecost, I want to offer a reflection, a “queering” of the story of Pentecost and what it means for our ideas of community and communion.
Pentecost tells us that we are called to be Christian in community. The earliest converts at Pentecost were initiated into community and participated in community. Community is essential for Christians. It is one of the primary ways in which we are formed, how we discern, and how we enter into relationship with God.
Community can be difficult for LGBTQ Christians. Christian communities can fall on a spectrum between affirming to welcoming, tolerant, condemning, or actively hostile. I have been fortunate to find affirming communities. For many queer Christians, this is not an option, particularly for those LGBTQ Christians living in remote areas or in parts of the world where LGBTQ identity is shunned or illegal. We are called to be Christian in community, but this is not often possible for LGBTQ Christians. This brokenness is not only a disturbing reality – it is contrary to the original intentions of being Christian. We grow into God and live into God’s promise in the context of community. It should deeply trouble us that many LGBTQ Christians cannot safely access this important piece of our growth into God.
Pentecost also tells us that our participation in God extends throughout the world. In Pentecost, the gift of languages was given to the Apostles and the gospel was proclaimed to people from all different nations. In this, we know that the church, Christ’s continuing presence on Earth, was never meant to be localized or limited to one time or place. We are bound to all Christians throughout the world.
There are Christians who see LGBTQ people as irrevocably bound up in sin; who see nothing good in us. Yet we, as queer Christians, are bound to them as they are bound to us, and we are all beholden to God in our baptism. When we participate in God, our participation extends beyond the local and the particular. This is true whether we participate in God through the sacraments, through the scriptures, or through prayer. We participate in God as the whole Body of Christ, through the whole Body of Christ.
A church halfway around the world may deny my humanity because I am queer, but when they celebrate Eucharist, I participate in that in some way by virtue of my baptism. This not the same as being immediately present at the Eucharistic celebration. Yet, when we gather as a community to do communion, we do communion as the Body of Christ. We do communion, in some sense, with all those who have been baptized into Christ. God has transformed us all in our baptism, incorporated us into something greater than ourselves. This transformation continues to be effective, even when we disagree. When St. Paul speaks of the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians, he says, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you.’”
Should I be angry about this? Shouldn’t I get to choose with whom I do communion?
Sure, I can choose those with whom I gather on some level, but I don’t get a say when it comes to what God does in the communion. That’s okay. I don’t get a say in how God’s grace operates. God takes hold of us in our baptism and will never let go.
I am not angry. How can I be angry? I am in awe.
Pentecost tells us that God is doing things that we cannot fathom. God sent down the Spirit upon the followers of Christ. The Spirit continues to operate in our disagreement. There are Christians with whom I will never agree when it comes to LGBTQ identity. God forces us into relationship with one another, through communion in Christ, on a mystical level, a level which we often cannot even perceive.
This is God’s reconciling work. This is God doing more than we can ask or imagine. This is the work of the Spirit. This is the Pentecost story.
Jordan Sandrock (They/Them) is a member of Proud Anglicans of Huron.