Raise a glass
When I was in college and traveling home for weekends, part of my trip was on a little two-lane road that wound through the countryside, and I would always pass a little white church that looked like it could’ve been on a Christmas card. In front of the church was one of those signs where you can change the message every week. It was one of the first ones I’d ever seen, and I loved seeing what they came up with each time I drove past.
The signs became more popular, and churches started putting funny messages on them. One local church had a sign that said, “Honk if you love Jesus. Text if you want to meet him.” And another one said, “God wants spiritual fruits, not religious nuts.”
Paul used to joke that he would be willing to go to a church near St. Francis because one summer their sign said that they were “prayer conditioned.”
Recently signs or banners have been going up on a lot of Methodist churches. “A place for everyone.“ “All are welcome.“ It has to do with the division in the Methodist Church over LGBTQ. And while I understand and respect the fact that different people have different belief systems, it does make me wonder. What does your sign say if your church is not welcoming? “Some are welcome??”
The other day I saw a Spanish commercial for J&B Whiskey. https://youtu.be/LEshVJ1IECw It starts off with a seemingly typical elderly grandfather secretly learning to wear makeup of all things. It appears he is experimenting or transgender. He continues secretly making progress and getting better at applying it. When his family arrives for Christmas dinner, his 26-year-old grandson, Alvaro, arrives as well, although he looks awkward and uncomfortable, like he doesn’t fit in. Grandfather calls Alvaro into the bathroom where he applies makeup on the young man with all the care and love every grandparent should have. When the two emerge, Alvaro is now Ana and is wearing perfectly applied makeup and looking shy but happy. Ana’s father has a tear in his eye, and her mom jumps up to embrace her. On the surface some people only see a transgender person and instead miss the bigger issue. Many people see a “problem” not the solution. Love is the solution.
One of my favorite movies is Chocolat. Towards the end, a homily is given on Easter Sunday. The priest says, “I don’t want to talk about God’s divinity. I’d rather talk about his humanity. I mean, you know, how he lived his life here on earth. His kindness. His tolerance. I think we can’t go around measuring our goodness but what we don’t do, by what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness… by what we embrace… what we create… and who we include.
So in the spirit of J & B Whiskey, let’s raise a glass to including everyone and celebrating love in all its forms this holiday season.