As you probably know, it’s Pride month – and a Happy Pride to you all!
You also know that I live in Alabama.
As such, I have many things to share, some unpleasant, most lovely, today.
So, let’s begin.
What Target Doesn’t Understand
For starters, last week my daughter, Sara, mentioned that many people on her Instagram had been posting the fabulous things that they had found in the Pride section at Target and she asked me to take her. She specifically wanted to go before the upcoming Pride festivities we were attending this weekend.
And we needed some groceries as well.
So off we went.
After wandering the entire Super Target and finding zero Pride items, we asked at Customer Service, only to be told that NONE of the Birmingham area stores were carrying them but we could “find THAT online.”
Hrrrmmmm. I see.
It turns out, despite the fact that Target has a huge Pride display on the home page of its website, I suppose they wanted to avoid any controversy in their Birmingham market.
As it happens, Birmingham actually has the largest Pride festival IN THE COUNTRY, so they can’t argue that they were concerned the items wouldn’t sell.
They. Are. Just. Weenies.
Needless to say, with my child wanting these items and feeling excluded, I was HOT.
I have tweeted and tracked down Pride shirts and cursed and spit.
Get it together, Target.
And Then There’s Arthur
In the midst of my mom-type rage, there has been this week’s national Alabama embarrassment, when Alabama Public Television decided not to air the episode of the cartoon Arthur where Mr. Ratburn marries his partner.
As it happens, our church, First Church Birmingham, partners with our city’s Sidewalk Film Festival each year to show Life and Liberty films, promoting justice and equality for all people, and this year, as a part of the festival, we will be hosting a wedding party and screening the Arthur episode.
It was printed in our church bulletin today as our ordinary news – because it is:
Of course, as you read this, you may have already known that our church is hosting a screening of Arthur – because it has turned into a news story that no one expected:
While locally there has been plenty of negative feedback (of course), there have also been SO many beautiful responses and support pouring in from all over the country. It’s wonderful.
In a time when we are seeing heterosexual teens attempt suicide at a rate of 6% (which is already TERRIBLE), LGBTQ teens are attempting at a rate of 29%. This is horrifying.
Followers of Jesus need to be first in line with all the love and support we have in us and every resource we can marshal. This is a crisis situation and no time for prejudices and biases.
An Affirming Faith
Before I go any further and talk about our amazing weekend, I want to recommend that you go to Sarah Bessey’s website – sarahbessey.com – and read her blog post about becoming an affirming Christian. (For some crazy reason, a link is not cooperating with me but it is called Penny in the Air: My Story of Becoming Affirming, and, as of this writing, it is the top post.) It is simply wonderful.
One point I would like to mention is that she says she has recently lost her church because of her stance of affirmation and that breaks my heart.
You see, at last year’s Pridefest, I taxied Sara and a carload of her friends. There, I met a booth full of members of First Church and they were amazing.
I made a mental note that I would love to go visit sometime.
As it happened, they ended up being the host church for the Jen Hatmaker event that Sara and I attended at the end of the year last year when I was incredibly sick and navigating in my SmartChair – and they were so good to us and helpful with my situation when I was definitely high maintenance that night.
I again thought that we would go visit sometime.
We still hadn’t made it until the big UMC decision came down regarding the LGBTQ community – and my bestie, Al, and I had a talk. And we went to visit.
And we were home.
Walking in is so warm and welcoming, it’s like a hug from Jesus. I know that is super cheesy – but it IS how I feel. And it doesn’t change.
We also are blessed to be able to help be a part of our church’s mission to bring the love of Jesus to everyone and to work for justice for everyone.
I am beyond grateful. ❤
Our City’s Pride Parade
One of the parts of our city’s Pride festivities that our church, along with the other reconciling churches in our community, are blessed to participate in, is the annual Pride Parade.
We went to meet everyone – and had a LONG walk on my broken feets, even cutting things short for my sake. Still, it was wonderful and so much fun. I am delighted that our church is a part. ❤
Afterwards, we went home to get some rest for Sunday’s activities.
Sunday morning was church for us. As we were going from church to Pridefest, Henry actually got to go for the first time – I just hadn’t tried before – and he was the best as usual, never leaving his spot.
Our minister, Stephanie, was taking a much-deserved vacation and preaching in her stead was a church member who is a minister, now a chaplain at our local children’s hospital, Herb Robertson.
His sermon was just perfect.
If you are interested in listening to it, it is here on our church’s Facebook page on the feed from the main sanctuary – 6.10.19 – and it is totally worth it. ❤
In preaching from Acts 2:1-21 about Pentecost, he also made mention of the text in Acts of Peter’s dream of the clean and unclean animals and his interaction with Cornelius, and said this:
Sacred rites and rituals cannot be denied to anyone because God has declared that no one is unworthy, unclean, or unwelcome.
And he spoke of being pentecostal as an adverb. And what does this mean?
He said, for us to be pentecostal, we are to:
- go where the Spirit goes
- do what the Spirit does
- hold an open space
Such a blessing to hear these words today.
After church, we stopped for a quick bite.
And we were off to Pridefest.
I was moving VERY SLOWLY.
But we were able to see everything and be with our peoples and we had a grand time.
Since our arrival home, I have been in hyper-rest mode. My left foot – the CRPS paw – is totally done and next year we will take Mervin the SmartChair to the parade for sure.
But it was worth every bit.
An amazing weekend filled with my peoples and our church family and celebration and love and Jesus and joy
And now I’ve got to rest up and heal – for we have a wedding party to help with on Saturday. ❤
Be well, everybody – and Happy Pride, y’all!
Grace and Blessings.