This Sunday we celebrate one of the milestones of the church calendar - Pentecost. Pentecost is the founding of the church through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has been present throughout human history, oftentimes dormant within human beings because of resistance to listen and discern the Spirit’s presence in their midst.
MCC experienced a Queer Pentecost on October 6, 1968 when Troy Perry listened to the Spirit and celebrated the first MCC worship. The Spirit moved him later to organize the first Christopher Street West Parade in Hollywood. This year we celebrate it the weekend of June 9 & 10, and many of our congregants will be at the festival both Saturday and Sunday. It is a time to rejoice at our freedoms over the years, from the various non-discrimination ordinances within municipalities, the striking down of the sodomy laws, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, to legalized same-sex marriage and civil unions in a number of US states, and finally the President and NAACP support the right of same-gendered couples to marry. We have come a long way during my lifetime, and still we have miles ahead to journey.
We celebrate Pentecost, the birthday of the Christian Church. But that Church has been divided into literally a thousand or so churches, fracturing the Body of Christ. It is a scandal that there is not “one,” unified Body of Christ. But individual egos become institutionalized compounded into a “corporate ego.” Corporate egos are as troublesome as individual egos because they block followers of Christ from actually following Christ. Many church leaders fail to listen to the Holy Spirit who frequently leads them outside of the gestalt of the corporate ego to listen to and discern Christ’s call anew. I believe it is better for us to think of church more “organically” as a movement, beyond the binaries of members and friends or members and non-members. Churches create boundaries and walls, but the Spirit does the opposite by tearing down boundaries.
If we understand Pentecost, it is not birth of the Church as institution; it is the inauguration of new movement to boldly follow Christ’s Way of denying our self-centeredness and egos and replacing them with the spirit of attentive love of Christ and neighbor. The Church as a movement is bigger than institutions, it is the collection of Spirit-led individuals who find connection to get together as the family of the risen Christ. So this Pentecost, let us focus on the Spirit and become a bit tipsy-in-the-Spirit and look outside our boxes and egos to discover the imaginative presence of the Holy Spirit who can ignite us passionately and lovingly to follow Christ inside the walls of MCCV and outside our walls. It is a matter of perspective, and remember that for the Spirit there are no walls or barriers.
We are participating with other member faith communities of the LA Queer Interfaith Clergy Council in a clothing drive for the month of June for the Jeff Griffith Youth Center. This is to assist predominantly LGBT youth enter the work place. Donations: Pad-folios and/or Messenger Bags; resume paper; belts; khaki & black pants & slacks in various sizes; white shirts and blouses; professional wigs for trans women; gift cards for $30 or more.
Also with the Christopher Street West Pride Parade taking place in West Hollywood on June 10, MCC LA has asked us and other Southern California MCCs to join them in the parade at 11 AM. The MCC float will assemble at Santa Monica and Crescent Heights. There will be an Interfaith Service at 10:15 AM at La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevards.
Please note the change for our Worship Service for Pride Weekend (June 9-10): There will be a Saturday evening worship service at 5:30 PM for those participating in the pride events the next day. I will preach on Saturday evening, and Tom Rossi will read my sermon on Sunday morning at the 10:30 AM service.
Transcendent and Transgender: Confessions of a Self-Made Woman by Missy Parker: This show will be held on Saturday, June 23rd at 7:30 PM. It will include songs, standup comedy, and narration on the transition from male to female. There will be an intermission and a panel forum of trans folks speaking on personal transitions. This is a fundraiser event for Gender Justice LA and MCCV’s transgendered ministries.
Join us for worship this Sunday and we will all be blessed with your presence.
The Unrest of the Holy Spirit,