This year for the season of Lent, HRC Foundation launched a campaign that aims to tell the stories of LGBTQ people of faith. The Lenten season marks the days which lead up to Jesus’ crucifixion and subsequent resurrection.
For Christians, the resurrection is both a reminder and celebration of life, yet people continue to suffer, including members of the LGBTQ community.
“A central and inspiring part of my ministry has been working to make sure the institutional church — and religion in general — is affirming and inclusive of LGBTQ persons,” said the Reverend Dr. J. Edwin Bacon, author and reverend in the Episcopal Church. “I am a more joyful and faithful priest because of that part of my work.”
We hope the meditations offered every day from Ash Wednesday to Easter on April 16, will bless souls, revive spirits, renew minds and strengthen bodies. These stories will be hosted on the HRC website and on Twitter and Facebook.
18 And I pray that you and all God’s holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide, how long, how high and how deep that love is. 19 [God’s] love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with everything God has for you.
Lady Gaga has taken up residence in my devotions, my sermons and my soul since the recent Super Bowl. Her talent on display in the half-time performance was certainly of the caliber of the great athletes. Beyond her raw singing and dancing talent, the spirituality of her songs carry profound spiritual rewards. I’m thinking particularly of “Born This Way.”
The song includes the lyrics: “No matter gay, straight or bi/lesbian, transgender life/I’m on the right track baby/I was born to survive.” Referring to the messages her mother gave her about God, Lady Gaga sings,
There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are
She said, ’cause He made you perfect, babe
I’m beautiful in my way
‘Cause God makes no mistakes
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way
Don’t hide yourself in regret
Just love yourself and you’re set
I’m on the right track, baby
I was born this way, born this way.
As I savor the words of Jesus always read on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I hear God lifting up prayer and other spiritual disciplines done not for your egocentric advancement but for the rewards God gives secretly in your heart and the hearts of others.
The first heart-level reward each of us needs is to know is that God made us just the way we are…God makes no mistakes. As Gaga sings, we are called to love ourselves. The purpose of all healthy spirituality and religion is to help us live love-based lives, not fear-based lives…to see everyone as beloved by God.
Once I had the opportunity to say to a gay man on The Oprah Show that “being gay is a gift from God.” That conviction came from my spiritual disciplines centered in praying in such a way that my prayer is not about my ego but about hearing God’s message of love for absolutely everyone God has made.
My prayer for you this Lent is that you will practice your spiritual disciplines, especially your prayer life in such a way that you know deeply how loved you are and then you are set to not only live a love-based life, but to encourage others to live a life in which they love themselves as well as all their neighbors.
Rev. Dr. J. Edwin Bacon
Rector Emeritus, All Saints Episcopal Church
The Lenten Devotional is a faith-filled resource that compiles meditations written by 47 faith leaders from across the United States. This project and other public education work with faith leaders in HRC Alabama, HRC Arkansas and HRC Mississippi is made possible in part by the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.