Each week in advance of our upcoming Love Undivided Conference, Q Christian Fellowship will release a series of devotionals intended to spiritually prepare you for the radical love and belonging you will feel while in Chicago with us. We invite you to prayerfully use these devotionals in the weeks prior to Conference!
Week 11-December 10-DECEMBER 17
Experiencing God: A Freely Chosen Spiritual Life
Just outside the town’s gate, a starved widow gathered sticks to create a fire that would cook her last meal. She was starving to death. The prophet Elijah, after hearing God’s life-saving instructions, met her at the gate (1 Kings 17:7-16).
Upon meeting, Elijah instructed her to give him a morsel of bread and attempted to soothe her fears. Elijah, a male and prophet with social privilege, reiterated God’s reassurances for her and her life: “The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth” (1 Kings 17:14). The widow simply did as Elijah instructed.
Week 10-december 3-December 10
Connecting to God Authentically
“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good”- John Steinbeck
Last Christmas, my niece, Madison, wrote to Santa for a pogo stick—and, goodness gracious, she wanted it desperately. For hours on end, Madison practiced bouncing up and down after unwrapping her treasured present. She is a tenacious, just like her mom. She would fall. She would hop and teeter to the left and then the right. Initially, Madison found more frustration than success.
Week 9 Supplement
The Power of Belovedness
I have been serving as an advocate for LGBTQ+ people for a long time. But as a mainly straight person, it took me a long time to really understand, at a deep-gut level, what being an ally was all about and what Pride celebrations were all about. And I have to wonder if maybe some other kind, well-meaning straight people might be in a similar boat.
Week 9- November 26- december 3
Connecting to God Out of Fear
Out of desperation, I imagine, Moses’ mother made a basket out of papyrus, tar, and pitch. Pharaoh wanted her son dead; she wanted to ensure his survival (Exodus 2). After being placed in the raft-for-one, Moses floated to Pharaoh’s daughter. The irony is uncanny. Moses, a Hebrew-born Israelite, became what we would consider Pharaoh’s adopted grandson. Pharaoh, as you may know, was an Egyptian ruler who enslaved Moses’ people.
Week 8- November 19- November 26
My partner and I sat across the table from my father at our favorite restaurant. We had just finished breakfast. My father counted down from 3 and told us to smile. He snapped a photo with his new camera. It was the first photo that my father took of us. More than that, it was the first time my father made a gesture that acknowledged I was in a relationship with another man.
Week 7- November 12- November 19
An Alabaster Moment
I walked into a room of men who had recently been released from prison. I was an intern working at a court-ordered treatment facility. My classes as a seminarian were filled with lessons on the beauties of vulnerability. Seeing emotional openness through rose-colored lenses, I assumed the men in my group would hold similar views.
Week 6 Supplement
No matter where we exist in society, each of us is susceptible to diminishing the other. I was reminded of this one day while I was walking home from the gym and passed a dead bird on the sidewalk. It was a baby bird, not quite a fledgling, that looked as if it had fallen out of its nest. One leg was crooked, and there were a couple of flies on it. I cringed, stepped past the carcass, and muttered one word to myself: gross.
Week 6— NOVEMBER 5-nOVEMBER 12
I was about to explode with rage. My pride was on the line and I couldn’t let my partner at the time get away with mischaracterizing my behavior and intentions. I had to protect myself. We had been in this argument before. In fact, it was one of those arguments you repeat like a good Madonna song.
Week 5 Supplement
Who we are and who we try to be are constant driving forces. We strive to maintain an image that others like, respect, and want to get to know. Our identity is shaped largely by the environment in which we live, and through our interactions with others. It is molded into a force that controls how we act, what we say, what we think and feel every moment of everyday.
Week 5 — October 29-NOVEMBER 4
Abide Not Divide
Ashley had been, all along, describing a relationship full of joyful unity. And when her anger turned to tears of sorrow, it was almost as though hope transported her to another land, one in which she was the prized possession. Ashley wanted one simple thing: to hear her parents say, “I love you because you are mine.”
Week 4 — October 22-28
The Imperative Common Denominator
Like the mother of the beloved child in 1 Kings 3:16-28, is it important that we strive to create safety for everyone’s journey, not only by relinquishing the pursuit of being proven right before the Judge, but also by prioritizing your neighbor’s internal essence over it’s external expression. Such a prioritization gives us the ability to love beyond differences and allows us to respect one another’s unique spiritual journey.
Week 3 Supplement
The Towel: A Story of Testing
This week I really wanted to throw in the towel. Embracing tension, searching for nuance, thinking the best of, treating with respect, choosing kindness. These are things I deeply value. And yet this week, I seriously wondered whether embodying these attributes actually just made me complicit with injustice and oppression. I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to pick up signs and march. I wanted to call people out with as much strength and power as I could muster.
I was haunted by MLK and Tutu’s words about silence and neutrality.
“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.”
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”
Week 3 — October 15-21
I love the story of Martha and Mary in Luke Chapter 10. We read about two sisters, Martha who angrily toils away over a hot oven to serve Jesus and his disciples and Mary who sits, savoring the experience, at his feet.
In a huff, Martha tries to snap Mary into action. The expectation is Mary should be serving, too. Martha is convinced Jesus should say something to her seemingly lazy sister. Doesn’t Jesus want to scold Mary?
When Jesus does not take Mary’s side, it’s a rather profound moment. In Luke 10:41-42 we read, “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
Given their context, Jesus is doing something rather bold. You see, women did not commonly interact with Rabbis with such outright openness as Mary had. In an age when patriarchy diminished the role and value of women, Jesus blatantly challenges the oppressive system that distorted the perception of female importance.
Week 2 — October 8-14
All Are Beloved Children of God
Sadly, many of us in the LGBTQIA community know what it feels like to be othered. As we think about the annual conference theme, “Love Undivided,” it is important to highlight some within our Q Christian community also feel othered because of the ‘great debate’ between Side A and Side B positions. When relational divides are present it is easy to judge one another’s viewpoints and behavior. ‘Othering’ another is often used to categorize those to whom we do not relate, inspiring separateness because our differences place us in opposing theological, institutional, or political camps. We may even use our differences to scapegoat one another.
“Relational dualism” is a term that defines how barriers delineate the right from the wrong, the in from the out, and the clean from the dirty. Relational categories like these strip us from being able to identify the God-given value of others. Just as dangerous, these categories often keep us from recognizing the God-given value of ourselves. We have become accustomed to feeling worth because we’ve created a list of standards we can achieve. When we do this, we identify more with our works than with our essence, forgetting that we bear the imago Dei. We become captives of what we can (or think we should) do, rather than who we are. We fabricate a false sense of safety.
Week 1 — October 1-7
All Are Beloved Children of God
As a means of creating a roadmap leading to conference, let’s begin where we left off, with a heavy focus on “belonging.” All are beloved children of God, not only because God is gracious, but because we all bear God’s image and likeness. Let us imagine for a moment that you and I have shed all of our familial, cultural and societal labels. I venture to say that we would be left with nothing more than our pure essence as God's children. Consider the possibility that inherently we are all the same, intended to share in deep and unchangeable equity. If we all believed this incredible supposition, I believe there would be no prejudice, patriarchy, or discrimination of any kind.