Reservoir PRIDE Sermon 2024 - Reservoir Church
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PRIDE at Reservoir

Reservoir PRIDE Sermon 2024

Reservoir's LGBTQ2IA+ Community

Jun 02, 2024

Good morning everyone, I’m Ivy a Pastor here — I use she/her pronouns. It’s a joy to be with you on this beautiful June morning. I’m so thankful for your presence here this morning with the Spirit of God. At Reservoir we welcome everyone without exception to discover the love of God, the gift of community and the joy of living. I sure hope you experience some of that this morning. 

Today’s service is celebrating Pride. It will vary a bit from our traditional service format. It will consist of prayer, spiritual practice, story, and song. Members of the Reservoir community who are also part of LGBTQ2IA+ community have curated the service this morning with vulnerability and care — and they will be leading this service and I’ll let them introduce themselves as they join us.  

At Reservoir we see the teaching of Jesus as anchored in love — love for God, love for our neighbor, and love for ourselves. We hold and practice this love — as a liberative, inclusive love that affirms the dignity, the value, and the worth of all God’s children…everyone without exception – who bear the image of God.  

We are glad you’re here today and we hope you will lean in with an attentive and open heart.

I’ll invite Emmett to join us now.

I’m Emmett and I want to offer some context behind pride as we begin this service. 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 ancestors remind us of the victories 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. We start this service honoring and remembering their legacy that is ours to carry on and will have slides before and after service honoring some meaningful ancestors. 

God sees themself reflected when they look 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 may not have the capacity to fully understand God’s depth of love and capacity for inclusion but we can awe and wonder at it. 

I want to share briefly about some words and acronyms we will use during this pride service. You will hear different variations of the acronym “LGBTQ” or “LGBTQ2IA+” during the service.

  • LGBTQ2IA+ is an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer/questioning, two-spirit, intersex, and aesxual.
  • The plus represents the many other identities not specifically named in this acronym.
  • “Queer” is often used as an umbrella term to encompass many identities in the LGBTQ2IA+ community and will be used during this service.

Historically, queer has been used as an insult and a slur. This term has been reclaimed by many people in the community but some still find it offensive or harmful and we want to acknowledge the heavy history of the word. 

I’d like to invite Bri up to share a prayer and call and response. 

I’m Bri and my pronouns are she/her.  I’d like to share an opening prayer by M Jade Kaiser.

God of infinite manifestations, 

Free us of shame that confines and judgment that destroys. Bring healing to the wounds of being told we are too much or too big or too proud or too young or too old or too queer. Ground us in the truth that sets us free: We are the work of a Divine hand – the holy lives in our flesh. Wherever we struggle to believe, meet us there. In Christ we pray. 


by M Jade Kaiser

We, of many backgrounds and identities, personalities, and ideas,

gather collectively in shared pursuit of the Sacred.

Together, we make up the body of Christ.

Wherever one of us is in pain,

our whole body aches.

Whenever one of us is cut off,

the whole body is wounded.

Whoever is kept away by discriminatory policies or practices or prejudices,

Our collective soul suffers the loss of their presence.

We need one another in order to be whole,

God make us the body of Christ as you envisioned.

May we become your presence enfleshed, in service to the world and one another.

I’d like to invite Lee up to share today’s scripture. 

I’m Lee and this morning’s reading is from the book of Isaiah. We will read together from Chapter 58 verses 8 – 12. In this text God is communicating the abundance of love and blessings that are available to everyone without exception — and the promise that God is always, always, always with us. It is also a call for each of us to embody justice, mercy and compassion as we seek to create beloved community.

Isaiah 58:8-12 (Common English Bible)

8Then your light will break forth like the dawn,

    and your healing will quickly appear;

then your righteousness will go before you,

    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;

    you will cry for help, and God will say, “I’m here.”

If you remove the yoke from among you,

    the finger-pointing, the wicked speech;

11 The Lord will guide you continually

    and provide for you, even in parched places.

    He will rescue your bones.

You will be like a watered garden,

    like a spring of water that won’t run dry.

12 They will rebuild ancient ruins on your account;

    the foundations of generations past you will restore.

You will be called Mender of Broken Walls,

    Restorer of Livable Streets.

I’d like to invite Becki to share part of her story with us.

I’m Becki and my pronouns are she/her. 

When I think of my life’s journey it has so many identities to it:  Christian, parent, technology worker, friend, preacher, son, daughter, husband, wife, LGBT+ activist, bisexual, transwoman.  So many identities. Some of these lives, these identities seem in conflict with the other. And I suppose they are. But they are all lives I have lived or live now. Sometimes I lived at peace with myself and the world and sometimes I lived in terrible conflict. There is one thing that has proved true through them all:  When I have called out to the Lord, the Lord has responded. When I cry out, He replies,

“Here I am”

Around age 25 or so, I gave my life to the Lord and became what is known as, at least in Evangelical Circles, Born Again – a spiritual rebirth. I was baptized, started reading my bible, and found myself fully committed to my church, family, job, and friends. In the midst of the ebb and flow of life, I found that I had a real connection to them, a God I had suddenly found myself in relation with. I say

“found myself in relation with”

because before my Born Again experience, I hadn’t shown much interest in God. But I had been searching for peace. And that search was through any means I could. But my relationship with God truly did bring me peace. And without knowing it, my faith in God became the one thing that would sustain me as my life journey continued.

While  life was happening outside: jobs, grad school, growing a family, backyard bbqs and fun summers camping, stuff was happening inside me too. When I was  younger, I knew, deep inside me, that I was different. I thought that I might be gay but I was determined not to let that be my future.  But the suppressed sense of who I am slowly ate away at me, making what seemed like a calm, cool, executive on the outside feel like a volcano ready to explode on the inside. I sought help from therapists, read books, talked endlessly with my then spouse, journaled my childhood and  adulthood and slowly realized that I was not gay but I was transgender. While I was assigned male at birth, I am really a woman.

That realization explained a lot about my past and my present. And it was terrifying. How would I navigate this truth – did I have to navigate this truth at all?  Couldn’t I just sweep it under the rug and kind of not think about it anymore?  My brain was filled with anxiety and, as Isiah wrote, in

Isiah 58:9,

“call out, and the Lord will respond;”

you will cry out, and he will reply,

‘Here I am.’ 

Knowing that and actually doing that really sustained me.

I read about so many of us in the LGBTIQA+  community having felt that God now hated them, once they started living their truth. I and my friends experienced the hate of religion, and the attempt by some to convince us, our families and our friends that God no longer loved us now that we were living our truth. 

But I didn’t believe that God now hated me, I honestly couldn’t. This couldn’t be the God I had read about in the bible. I was ok with churches rejecting me, but not our God. And that firm belief was not unlike what Isiah had written in

Isaiah 58:11

“The Lord…will feed you even in parched regions. He will give you renewed strength, and you will be like a well-watered garden.”  

And so, my life journey continued. My transition to my correct gender was long and hard and I lost nearly everything. So I turned to the one thing that had sustained me, I called out to the Lord like my life and the lives of those I loved depended on it. I pressed into the God I knew. At times I did doubt. Maybe God really didn’t  love me, and that my living as myself was actually judgment from God. But I refused to believe my own demons and those created by anti-LGBT rhetoric. I thought, what is the downside of my pressing into God?  Of my being persistent with God with my cries? And in that I pressed into a good, loving God that is always with  me, always watering me in times that are hard. He really did renew my strength and my life became like a well-watered garden.

I’m Mitch and my pronouns are he/him. 

I’d like to share the trans prayer of divine understanding by M Jade Kaiser.

Creative Spirit,

Holy Momentum,

Ever Transitioning One,

Do you hold the prayers of trans people close,

like the embrace of someone who understands –

a source of comfort or hope?

We share this joy – you and us:

Taking on new forms

that life might thrive.

Shedding what no longer fits;

or never did.

Struggles, we share, too:

Religious beliefs that confine being and becoming.

Enduring acts of violence

born from fear and fueled by power.

Though even we endure too much, too long,

how burdensome is your lot…

Centuries pass and still,

so few who claim to love you

believe you are who you say you are –

calling you an excuse for bigotry,

when you are a river of Love.

Do all the theologies of hate,

and songs of Sunday apathy,

land on your ears like a deadname –

something given to you

that you never asked for

and just won’t go away?

Do you wince

each time a prayer ascends to “Him” –

because more than anything,

you know what that means to do

is distance you from the likes of “Her” or “Them?”

When you stretch out your arms

as the embrace of a gentle man,

or kick out your feet

as the dance of a woman,

or run wild in open fields

through every gender-less,

or gender-abundant,

or nonbinary kiddo

loving their flesh,

do you take delight in every fit,

finding a spot of home

in every body?

The glory of your Multiplicity cannot be hidden away.

We may be a long way from safety yet,

but your mercies are new every morning

and with each day dawns new possibilities

of Sacred Transition

into a world more fitting for everyone.

May your blessing be upon all your trans beloveds.

Take pleasure in us, your stunning incarnations.

And as we care for our each other,

may the god we practice be a comfort and a strength.

In your abundance and love,


I’d like to invite the band and Ivy to share a song and some breath prayers. 

We’re going to move into a time of reflection, breath, and prayer, paired with some music. The song that we’ll be singing, called Wishes, explores the concept of wishing things could be different, wishing we know how to handle the various challenges that we face, and also having the courage and space to explore the longing for things to be different.

While there are pieces of this song that everyone can relate to, as I listen to this song, as well as many of my friends in the Queer & Trans community, it becomes really powerful because many themes are so deeply connected to our experiences related to identity; challenging relationships with family, complicated relationships with our body/expression, and the general feeling of our identity being a burden or issue for those around us, and that we need to hold space for them. 

As we were preparing for this service we were reflecting on experiencing Pride as a protest or as a celebration, and for me, that can shift depending on the year and everything happening around us. As we go through this practice I invite you to explore that balance, of holding space for things we may wish for and also celebrating who we are in God’s Love. So as we sing feel free to reflect and absorb and we’ll take some pauses for guided breath and prayer. 

Verse 1

I wish I was a reader, and I wish I was

The kind of child that calls their mom

With stupid questions or anything at all


And I wish that I was different, or I wish I was

Better at being kind to the one body that I’ve got

After all, it keeps me breathin’ ’til the day it just cannot

  • Breath Prayer 2x

Inhale: My wishes are too much to hold

Exhale: So we hold them together

Verse 2

I wish I didn’t linger on every thought

Reshapin’ every moment to the point of losin’ touch

Wish I was in my body ‘stead of hoverin’ above (Ooh-ooh, ooh)

And I wish that I was harder, and I wish I was

Less of a feeler so it wouldn’t hurt so much

But I offer all my pillows and I give my bed to lay

I’m a shoulder for a cry until the tears melt me away


I wish I didn’t feel like a burden

All the time

I wish I wasn’t so scared of something

all my life

  • Breath Prayer 

Inhale: I am not a burden

Exhale: I am worthy of care 

Verse 3

I wish that I was smarter, and I wish I could

Communicate a thought without being misunderstood

But it’s better keeping quiet, yeah, it’s easy staying put

And I wish I didn’t cater when I know I should

Stop beggin’ for forgiveness and start puttin’ down my foot

I’m just used to people-pleasin’, yeah, I’ve gotten way too good

I think I’ve become the person that I said I never would


I wish I didn’t feel like a burden

All the time

I wish I wasn’t so scared of something

all my life

  • Breath Prayer 

Inhale: I will not be silenced by fear

Exhale: A trembling voice is still sacred (credit: @Blackliturgies | Cole Arthur Riley)


I wish I didn’t feel like a burden

All the time

I wish I wasn’t so scared of something

all my life

I wish I didn’t feel like a burden


I wish I wasn’t so scared of something



I know these wishes aren’t all for nothing

I am loved

  • Breath Prayer 3x

Inhale: I am 

Exhale: God’s beloved wish

Now I’ll invite Emmett up to share a prayer and lead us in a spiritual practice.

Hello again, 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. This is both a prayer and a spiritual practice. I invite you to envision something of each color as we go through the colors and find meaning in them or if you happen to have those colors in the room, I invite you to grab that item or write in the chat why that color is meaningful for you.  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, two-spirit, 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 and trans 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, purpose, and intention of every rock, raindrop, and leaf. With the green stripe in the rainbow, connect us with others and with all of your 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, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, 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.  Amen. 

I’d like to invite Mitch back to share a part of his story with us. 

I am fascinated by mystical experiences. More than one shelf of my bookcase at home is devoted to stories about peoples’ direct encounters with God. 

Folks one moment carrying on with a life, and then the next – radically changed.

Light breaking forth like the dawn.”

Something so indescribable, so wonderful, so reality-shattering happened to them, was revealed to them, that in a blink they’re never the same.

I don’t know about you, but that’s never happened to me – at least, not yet. And I admit I’m a little jealous sometimes of the prophet Isaiah and the others. 

But that’s not to say, when I take a moment to reflect, that I haven’t had epiphanies – sudden unveilings of Truth that radically changed me and the trajectory of my life. In the moment I can’t always see – or sometimes flat-out resist seeing – God’s place in them. But my experience might just be something divine, if I choose to look at how it all adds up. If I peer backward, it turns out that the Lord is my rearguard. 

So, I’ll give you all just two of my biggies. 

Picture me, age seventeen. I’m in my high school library; I pick up a book called Transgender Warriors and see myself reflected in it. Then picture me, 19. I’m in my first or second feminist studies class in college, learning about structural oppression for the first time. Both instances something lands with me, I feel electric, and I suddenly have a new knowing on a higher level. Some part of the curtain “pulled back” and a little of the Matrix of the real-real peeking through.

I can’t un-see what I’ve been shown. And now I’ll never stop being called to respond to it.

I’m still here, over a decade later, being called. And I can tell you that having been shown essential knowledge, living a changed life because of it, can at times be so exhilarating — like every step has been on this 13-year journey of inhabiting the livable streets of my male body & identity — and, at other times, so hard — like stumbling through the ancient ruins and broken walls of an inherited social system shot through with “isms” and phobias towards the so-called “other.” And crying out, at times, to God for help. Like, “What can I even do about anything beyond my own nose?”

I’ll bring it back to the beginning.

So, Epiphany #1: that I’m transgender — I was assigned female at birth, but know myself to be and live my life as a man. God truly is Mender and Restorer, in my experience! I was held back and He showed me how I could get free, be comfortable. On an individual level. 

Epiphany #2: Oppression works structurally; individual cruelty, or even “well-intentioned” harm, is just a surface symptom of a deep sickness. We’re all intertwined. No one’s truly free and well until we’re all free and well. 

I look back now at my two great revelations – how the first clarity about ME happened before the second about US. I can see God at work in this. 

Dismantling structural oppression. It’s felt, at times, too big an ask to take part in, until I look at myself where I’m at – my gifts, my internal modes to repent — which means to turn — from. 

So where do I start? Well, here’s something. 

Someone once asked me: What are the spiritual gifts of trans-ness? Well – many. For me, in my own life, the clearest is a kind of vision. I was handed the system that we all are, and which is so ingrained as to be invisible and nearly unquestionable – in this case, the gender binary and its supposed permanency – and yet the nature of my very being causes me to look outside it. To question it, challenge it, see its rigid enforcement as human-made rather than God’s intention. My very life and thriving depends on this. I was lovingly crafted to imagine something other than “that’s just the way things are, live with it.” God sketched me into a template but then let me go free to keep writing a different future.

And that’s a start.

I’d like to invite Emily to lead us in a call and response prayer.

I’m Emily and my pronouns are she/her.  I’d like to invite you into a time of prayer, called Prayers of the People by M Jade Kaiser.  After each prayer, I will pause and then you are invited to respond “God, hear our prayers.” This will also be on a slide.

Let us pray. 

In the midst of all that keeps our spirits frantic, overwhelmed, or troubled, we pause.

We pause to remember each other as those whose precious and precarious lives

are inherently bound together.

We pause to remember the basic gifts of water, of trees, of beauty, of the land we gather upon.

We pause to remember our neighbors – distant and near.

And so to the One who is Love, we bring the prayers of our communities. Where we share in joy or concern, let us respond together, “God, hear our prayers.”

We pray…

for all the queer, trans, and intersex children and youth across the globe. For the ones who are struggling with feelings of isolation and shame. For those who have no safe place or people to retreat to. For those who must be teachers to the adults in their lives. For those who are unsafe in their communities.

God, hear our prayers.

We pray for our elders whose labor we are indebted to. For the ones who never tasted the freedom they fought for. For the ones who were forced to the fringes of their own movements. For the allies who suffered beside us, casting their lot with us in true solidarity. For the ones forgotten and betrayed.

God, hear our prayers.

We pray for all those who hunger for justice and liberation today. For the ones who lay down their lives for their friends. For the ones who tell the truth. For the ones who take risks, who dream, who feed and pray, who fight for bread and roses, both. For the ones who are eager to learn and grow and offer their gifts to the work of enfleshing your dreams.

God, hear our prayers.

We pray for all who are suffering in the church and the world at the hands of white supremacy. For those imprisoned by the state. For those whose land has been taken. For the earth that groans beneath us. For those without food or housing. For those who have yet to repent.

God, hear our prayers.

We pray in gratitude for all that nourishes and sustains us. For the gifts of beauty and friendship, shared meals, and art, and love. For laughter. For pleasure. For the friends, lovers, and comrades who lift our spirits, always by our side when the days are heavy. For the freedom we have in Christ.

God, hear our prayers.

For your presence within and around us, in our highs and lows, our hope and our despair, God, we give you thanks. Hear our prayers and deepen our willingness to show up with and for one another, sharing in each other’s burdens and working for one another’s protection and care. Amen.

I’d like to invite Maddison to lead us in communion.


I’m Maddison and my pronouns are she/her.

We will now move to a time of communion. 

Where we give thanks for the presence and love of God. God’s presence that is not at a distance –  but intimately in our lives – as intimately as our own skin.

God gifted us with bodies and through them we come to know God:

Through touch.

Through taste.

Through struggle.

Through rest.

In God’s love for us and for all creatures and creations, God took on skin like ours – entangling, forever –  the (H)oly 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 –  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 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 (as his own body would break), 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 and infinite possibilities.

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.

At Reservoir we practice an open table. All are open to come and receive the goodness and love of Jesus. I invite you to get some food and something to drink and receive with us. 

I’ll pray for us, 

Prayer: Spirit of God, Come, bless this bread and this cup, that we might 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.


Holy One, You call each of us beloved.

Each of us cherished.

Each of us desired.

Each of us good.

Each of us sacred.

As you leave today, may you know that you are treasured and surrounded by the Spirit of love and authenticity.

Many thanks to this incredible resource: