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Pride Sunday 2003 - We Are Family 

"Family Matters"

A Sermon Preached by the Rev. Deana Dudley

at Pride Services in Ontario in June and July of 2003

See what love God our parent has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when Christ is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

Well, it?s been an interesting Pride Month, hasn?t it? About a month ago, June 10, the Ontario Court of Appeals unanimously set aside the heterosexual-only definition of marriage, and ruled that same-sex couples have an equal right to marriage under Canada?s Constitution and Charter of Rights. The court ordered that the legal definition of marriage be changed to "the voluntary union for life of two persons to the exclusion of all others," effective immediately. AND, as of June 17, 2003, Jean Chretien announced that the government wouldn?t appeal of the ruling. So the ruling stands, and now here in Ontario, at least, those of us who want to can marry. Praise God!

And lots of folks are doing it, too! As of the end of June, over 250 Lesbian and gay couples had obtained marriage licences in Toronto alone. Anne and I have finally worked out enough details to set a date -- October 26, in Toronto. I?m just unreasonably happy that we can actually get legally married.

Not to be outdone, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling this week finally declaring that sodomy laws that make gay or lesbian sexual relationships illegal are themselves an unconstitutional denial of due process under the law. Mind you, this came a mere 35 years AFTER Pierre Elliot Trudeau declared in Canada that "The State has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." It?s been said that the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly fine. Amen?

Reading the U.S. Supreme Court decision actually resurrected a little bit of my ex-lawyer?s heart, which I had thought was completely extinguished. Because it's not just that it made queer sex legal.... it basically told the country that we have a fundamental, constitutionally recognized, right to BE! Which, may seem fairly normal to y?all up here, but believe me, is an astonishing leap for American jurisprudence! The liberty language in it is stunning, considering the source, and provides a precedential foundation for further legal gains, I think. By acknowledging gay relationships as legitimate, the Supreme Court gave gay rights in the States a new credibility in debates about marriage, partner benefits, adoption and parental rights. And what really stunned me was that the decision understands that gay sexuality is not just about sex, it?s about intimacy and relationships. It acknowledges a real respect for our relationships, for the families that we?ve chosen and created.

And families are what I want to talk a about tonight. Not just the families that we?ve chosen and created, but the ones that God has offered us. The scripture that was read"O look at the love that God has shown us" ? literally there, what love the Father, the Parent has given us ? "in letting us be called children of God. And that?s not just what we?re called, but what we ARE! The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized God?s own Firstborn. Dear ones, we are already the children of God, but what we are to be in the future has not yet been disclosed."

You know, I think all too often, we don?t feel like children of God. I want you to imagine something for a minute. Imagine yourself getting up in the morning... If you?re like me, you?re pretty groggy.... You stumble into the bathroom.... And -- Oh my God! there?s the mirror!....

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Your mother?s eyes? Your father?s nose? Your great-uncle Herb?s big ears? Your maiden aunt Maude?s little mustache? Do you see someone good-looking, or do you have some other image of yourself? Do you see your gifts and talents, or your shortcomings? Do you see your successes or your supposed failures?

When a baby is born, everyone vies to see who she or he looks like. Often, as a child grows, the resemblance to parents and siblings just becomes more and more apparent. I experienced some of that a few weeks ago, when I went to my family reunion. Someone said to me that they had trouble recognizing some of their more distant cousins, when they only saw them every 3 or 5 years or so. And I said, don?t worry... we?re all getting to the point where we look like our parents, so just look for people you think are your aunts and uncles, and that?s your cousins now.

There was this article in the Globe and Mail a couple of months ago, with the headline "Gayby Boom." It was mainly about Gay fathers adopting kids, babies, or having babies through surrogacy. And it was about creating families through love.

You know, in spite of the recent landmark Court rulings, gay families still face a lot of legal hurdles, both here and in the states. But still, that old saying is true... Love makes a family. Nothing more, nothing less.

You know, it?s funny... Even in families where kids are adopted, have you ever noticed that the parents and kids sometimes begin to look alike? And even in families that kids are born into biologically, there can be some amazing differences. Of course, part of that may be that almost ALL babies initially look more like Winston Churchill than anyone in their immediate family. But even when there?s no genetic tie to make us look alike, it?s the things like mannerisms, and the way we move and talk, and the shared history and the shared family jokes, and the affection, that make us begin to look alike.

So, if love makes a family... and God loves us... And God calls us children of God.... do we resemble God in any way? When we look in the mirror, do we see someone godly? Do we see the love that made us family? Do we see any family resemblance between us and God?

We ought to. Today?s reading began with God?s genuine love for us. "Look at the love God has shown us, that we should be called children of God; and that is who we are." That?s who we are. God has made us family. God is our father and mother. We often speak of being closer, sometimes, to our "chosen family" than our families of origin. And God has chosen US for family. So that?s how we can think of ourselves.

Often, we think of this in terms of "adoption." And that?s a beautiful metaphor for the way God chooses to love us. But when John writes about our becoming children of God, it goes way beyond that. It?s something even more amazing and profound. John?s talking about a new birth, a new family, a new relationship. A tie closer than our DNA. Not only does God choose us, but then we?re BORN into God?s family. If I were adopt a child, I couldn?t cause that child to be born again, to carry my genetic make-up. I could simply choose to love that child just exactly as he or she is. I love, and I influence with my love, but I cannot get into the very nature of the person and change that. God can. God?s done that for us. And it?s something no one can ever take away from us, anymore than they can take away our DNA.

John tells us "Beloved,look at the love that God has shown us in letting us be called children of God. And that?s not just what we?re called, but who we ARE! The reason the world doesn?t recognize us is that it never recognized God?s own Firstborn. Dear ones, we are already the children of God, But what we are to be in the future has not yet been seen!"

In other words, God imparts something of the divine into us, so that we take on a family resemblance. And what we will become in the future, has not yet been seen. God has great things in store for us, God?s children. We ain?t seen nothing yet! So as we grow in faith and maturity, we begin to look more and more like God. So... when you look in the mirror... who do you see?


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Holy Fellowship Metropolitan Community Church
388 Dundas St., Unit 305,
London, Ontario N6B 1V7
PH: 519-645-0744