Shortly after Easter, one network channel started showing a limited series called The Bible AD. I have watched most of the episodes and have been intrigued. I have no idea how historically exact the facts presented are, but given that it is not a PBS production, I assume they have taken some licenses with history. Regardless, I have been into it and fascinated by all the groups represented: the Nazarenes, the zealots, the high priests, the Romans. The show starts with the crucifixion of Christ, followed by the resurrection, and then Pentecost and the struggle of the followers of Jesus to gather, preach, avoid persecution, and face their own doubts, fears, and internal disagreements. We meet the passionate and somewhat chaotic Paul, the strong leader Peter, James preaching in Samaria, Stephen the martyr, and in a much lesser way (very unfortunately) Mary and Mary Magdalene. There is much about the people in power too: Herod, Pilate, Caiphas, and the Emperor. Judea was indeed a very complex and challenging place.
This story of the early followers of Jesus and the religious and political authorities of the time reminded me once again how hard the start of Christianity was. There was nothing magic or instant about this movement, in spite of the appearance of the Spirit at Pentecost. The early Christians preached the word, facing danger at every turn. This movement started by the birth, the death, and the Resurrection of Jesus was a movement made of many moments, and with the participation of many. It took a lot of work, great risk, patience, faith and commitment.
During the month of June we have celebrated Pride across our country. Just a couple of weeks ago Boston celebrated its 40th Pride March. Dignity Boston was there, as always. Because of its being a significant anniversary, there was a lot of coverage about past Pride marches. Lots of old photos were published and it was really exciting to see where we have been and where we are. Almost unbelievable! And again I was reminded of what it takes to build a movement. In spite of the Stonewall rebellion, the fight for rights was a slow, if steady, process. The religious and political authorities were a well-established enemy and every action took risk, patience, commitment. The movement of our GLBTQ liberation has been built, and continues to be built, one action at a time.
I have thought a lot about Dignity in this context. We too are involved in the building of a movement. We are also challenged by religious authorities and by political maneuvers. But every time any of us, locally or nationally, stands up to witness to our faith, to our identity, to our love, and the sanctity of our relationships and our families we are building that inclusive, justice and peace-seeking kingdom that the Nazarenes preached about in Judea centuries ago. Every time we claim our sacramental rights given to us in Baptism, and every time we stand in witness to the right to marry, we, like all those GLBT warriors before us, are marching forward toward a society free from prejudice and hate-filled violence.
As Dignity, we cannot forget how much patience and commitment our work takes. And we cannot surrender to apathy, complacency, tiredness. As long as there is homophobia, sexism, classism, racism in our Church and in our society, our work is not done. As long as patriarchy, and hierarchical power are the rulers of our Church, the people of God will continue to be excluded and turned away from the table. That cannot be acceptable to us as Dignity. One action, one witness at a time, we continue to build the movement that Jesus started preaching about.
What is in a movement we ask? Hard work, great risk, a lot of faith and trust, steady commitment and dedication, and the participation, not of a few, but of many. In fact, all of us.
This will probably be last time that you will hear from me in my role as President of DignityUSA, as my term ends at the end of September. It has been an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to serve Dignity in that role. And so, I want to take this opportunity to say two words to you: thanks and please (in that order).
Thanks for all you give to Dignity: your time, your skills, your financial contributions. It is all needed and appreciated. Thanks for the support that you have given us on the Board and to our dedicated staff. The prayers, the words of encouragement, the feedback, the challenges, and that you have given us on the Board and to our dedicated staff. The prayers, the words of encouragement, the feedback, the challenges, and the congratulatory messages have helped us do our work.
Please continue to take action when and where you can, fully knowing that a movement is being built because of who you are and what you do.
What's in a movement? Ask anyone at Dignity. We know.