Hi, I’m Becki. I’m glad you’re here this morning. Today’s service is celebrating Pride. It will vary from our traditional service format. Members of the Reservoir community who are also part of LGBTQIA+ community will be leading this service and I’ll let them introduce themselves. This service will consist of prayer, reflection, liturgy, and spiritual practice. We are glad you’re with us here today.
I want to offer some context behind pride. Pride marches commemorate the seven days of the Stonewall riots, an uprising during a police raid on June 29th, 1969 in Greenwich Village. The riots were led by queer and trans people of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Miss Major Griffin-Gracy. At Pride each June, we celebrate how far we have come and we protest for how much farther we have to go. Our society is nowhere near perfect in terms of inclusion and acceptance.
But we have a social and cultural view of “perfect” that we assume matches God’s view of “perfect”. But God’s view of perfect is so much wider than ours. I believe that God sees perfect when he looks at people celebrating and protesting at Pride, God sees the fullness of themself in the margins of society and says “this is good” at people being wholly and beautifully themselves and among community. We don’t even have the capacity to fully understand God’s depth of love and capacity for inclusion but we can awe and wonder at it.
Now we will have a spiritual practice led by Emmett.
Hi, I’m Emmett, my pronouns are they/them.
Sometimes, when there are reframes in perspective like God’s view of perfection, we lean into affirmations to try to convince ourselves of truths we don’t yet fully believe or remind ourselves of truths we tend to forget. For example, pay attention to what you feel in your body when I say affirmations like the following:
“I am enough”
“I deserve love”
“I am wonderfully and beautifully made”
“I have everything I need”
Notice what you felt in your body and your initial gut reaction. Was it comforting, anxiety-producing, annoyingly over-used, or did it make you a little defensive. All of those reactions are valid. I learned today’s practice from a TikTok account by Christine Gibson. She called the practice “iffirmations.” You add the phrase “what if” to the beginning of an affirmation. Pay attention to your body again as those same affirmations become iffirmations:
“What if I am enough?”
“What if I deserve love?”
“What if I am wonderfully and beautifully made?”
“What if I have everything I need?”
Notice again what you felt in your body and your initial gut reaction. That shift in language for some of you may plants seeds of possibility that feel true while affirmations sometimes feel like you’re trying to trick yourself into believing something. That flexibility of mental response can be very healing. Other phrases that people like using are “Imagine that” or “I am open to the possibility of.” I invite you to (respond in the chat) and try writing an affirmation from a favorite source of wisdom, God, the Bible, or others that you could try as an “iffirmation”? Notice how the shift in language feels in your body. You may like affirmations more and that’s totally okay. But What if an iffirmation engaged your curiosity? I invite you to (respond in the chat).
Chat question: What is an affirmation from a favorite source of wisdom, God, the Bible, or others that you could try as an “iffirmation”?
Thank you so much for sharing your ‘iffirmations’ and I encourage you to keep playing with this practice.
Now I’d like to share a prayer that has excerpts from the Prayer for Pride Flag Raising by the Rainbow Pastor and the Rainbow Christ Prayer by Patrick Cheng and Kittredge Cherry as well as my own prayers. I’ll share an image of the pride flag for reference. Pray with me.
Rainbow Christ, you embody all the colors of the world. Inspire us to remember the values expressed in the rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual community.
Red is for life, the root of spirit. Living Christ, you are our Root. Free us from shame, and grant us the grace of healthy pride so we can explore, question, and follow our own inner truths. With the red stripe in the rainbow, we give thanks that God created us just the way we are.
Orange is for healing, the mending needed desperately in individuals and our community as a whole. Let us heal one another through love, radical acceptance, and coming alongside each other in our hurts, losses, and burdens. Lord, may we lay those hurts and burdens at your feet and allow the wholeness of community and self to be reconciled. With the orange stripe in the rainbow, be a balm to our wounds and sorrows.
Yellow is for sunlight, the brilliant light of queer joy. The smile on Your face shining down upon us. Interconnected Christ, you are our Wisdom, creating and sustaining the universe. With the yellow stripe in the rainbow, may we feel Your radiant light reflected in our innermost beings.
Green is for nature, the grounding of life. May we seek nature to commune with you and all of creation. May we see ourselves reflected in the beauty and purposefulness of every rock, raindrop, and leaf. With the green stripe in the rainbow, connect us with others and with all of creation.
Blue is for serenity, the sense of tranquility and calm that comes with knowing you are exactly as God made you to be. God knew your true name when you were in the womb and They smile as you come into your own. Serenity is also inviting the most marginalized into an open and welcoming community. Liberator Christ, you are our Voice, speaking out against all forms of oppression. Free us from apathy, and grant us the grace of activism. With the blue stripe in the rainbow, let us find peace within our Body-Spirit and motivate us to call for justice.
Purple is for spirit, the union of one’s spirit with the Holy Spirit and the spirit of community. Lord, may we find connection with you and one another. May we offer love and compassion and encourage those around us to live their authentic lives. Fill our hearts with untamed compassion for all beings. With the purple stripe in the rainbow, may our spirit find rest and encouragement in our truths, one another, and the Holy Spirit.
These colors come together to make one rainbow, one symbol of Pride. Free us from rigid categories and grant us the grace of interwoven identities. With the rainbow, lead us to experience the whole spectrum of life.
Bless our pride in who we are, in all our diversity, as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, two-spirit, and questioning people, as an expression of your creative love. Bless our differences that we may draw strength from them.
Bless our celebration that it may show our joy in living and hope. Bless those for whom it takes great courage to be present, that they may not feel alone. Bless those for whom this is one in a long series of Pride celebrations, as they continue to teach us about courage and wisdom.
Bless our calls for equality as we seek justice for all your people. Bless those who support us and are also working for freedom and justice. Bless each of us here with your presence, and our presence, one with another.
I invite you to join me in a breath prayer. We will do it twice together.
Inhale: I am enough
Exhale: God blesses me. (2x)
I’ll pass it over to Noelle for a time of honoring queer ancestors.
Tom is also going to sing a song he wrote as we reflect on those who came before us.
Know me. Know me.
I am all that you are longing for.
All that you desire, everything you need, and so much more.
I am the God who called you. I am the God who rescued you.
I am the God who sets your heart on fire.
I am the God who walks with you.
I am the God who talks with you.
I am your God, and this is my desire,
that you will know me, know me, know me. I am your God.
I’d like to share a prayer from Rev. Megan Rohrer called “A Prayer for my LGBTQ Kin.”
Be palpably present with us when we dance,
and enjoy the sensations
of the creation you declare good.
Help us to name, define, redefine, deconstruct, claim, and properly pronoun our fabulousness. We commit to properly naming and pronouning the fabulousness of others.
Dwell with us,
both when we are able to articulate our pride for ourselves and others
and when we get stuck in a cacophony of negativity, bodily shame, or unjust laws.
When we are tired, weary, and exhausted,
grant us the rest and renewal we need to keep on marching, advocating, and living openly.
When we have all that we need to live fully,
help us to share with others who lack.
And when it feels like time is moving too slow,
or change is not possible,
take the lead
block the wind
refresh our hearts
distract us with passionate love
give us purposeful work
anything that helps those on the edge to choose life
to get through the month, the week, or the hour
to move time a bit closer
to the safety, acceptance, and love we all need and deserve.
When we cannot hear you,
love more tangibly
silence violent voices of opposition
whip advocates into a frenzy
fill us with memories of times when we felt closer to you
and love us anyway
as we were
as we are
as we are becoming
as we wish we could be in a safer time and place
as you know us
as we seek to know ourselves.
Remind us of the victories our ancestors won,
with their storytelling and coming out,
with their lobbying and work from the inside,
with bricks and sugar shakers thrown through windows of oppression
Help us to live and act with bravery,
working within and without,
educating ourselves and those around us,
so that we can do the work generations to come need us to do.
Stir up our hearts,
so that we always remain on our tiptoes
looking for additional ways
we can remove the barriers unjustly placed in front of our LGBTQ kin,
especially those embodying multiple intersectional identities.
Make us plumbers,
capable of unclogging all the places
where the ever-flowing stream of justice has been dammed up or clogged.
Be palpably present with us when we dance,
and enjoy the sensations
of the creation you declare good.
Cole Arthur Riley
In the words of poet and writer, Cole Arthur Riley:
“For those who were taught to hate their queerness:
For those who still have to hide to be safe:
If you still haven’t said it out loud:
If you already know your beauty:
God is proud of you.
God is proud of you.”
Murray will now be leading us in a scripture reading
Ephesians 3:16-19 (New Living Translations)
16 I pray that out of God’s glorious riches that God may strengthen you with power through God’s Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The love of God is abundant, multi-dimensional, and it is what has given you – your fullness, wholeness and uniqueness. God is so proud of who you are.
Breathe with me two times,
Inhale: God is proud of me.
Exhale: God is proud of me. (2x)
Now Lee is going to lead us in a time of communion.
We will now move to a time of communion.
Where we give thanks for the presence of God – God’s presence that is not at a distance – but intimately in our lives – as intimately as our own flesh/skin.
God gifted us with bodies and through them we come to know God:
In God’s love for us and for all creatures and creations, God took on skin like ours, entangling, forever, the Holy with our flesh. God showed us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that we love through our bodies, we seek justice for bodies, we live out our faith in these bodies – not despite them.
Jesus took care and rest of his own body – he fed people, healed people, ate with people.
He met the physical and spiritual needs of bodies.
And when his own body was threatened by political and religious execution, he turned to the Table. He sought, first, in his hour of need, to share in a meal with his friends.
On the night of his arrest, he gathered around a table with his companions.
He took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to his disciples and said,
“This is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
He did the same with the cup after the supper, saying,
“This cup that is poured out as a sign of the new covenant.”
A new way forward with love.
The body of God was crucified.
And the body of God was resurrected.
Not only in spirit, but in flesh.
God has shown us that our bodies are good, holy, precious, and full of possibility.
Let me pray for us:
Spirit of God, Come, bless this bread and this cup, so that we can encounter your presence as we touch, and we taste, and we feel. As we come to the table, may we become one body. And may we be relentless pursuers of your Kin-dom, until every body has its needs met, every body is recognized as beloved, and every body is treated with dignity and care. Amen.
Invitation to Communion
Right now, wherever you are, grab something to eat and drink as you are ready.
Know that even digitally everyone is welcome to the table. There are no prerequisites at Reservoir for participating in communion.