My apologies for not posting last week. It’s been a busy season. Over eight days I traveled all across the United States doing 15 keynote speeches, lectures, interviews and sermons. It was busy, but satisfying.
I began with three presentations for a PFLAG event north of Seattle. It is always so good to be with the generous families whose support for their children has caused them to become activists in the cause of love. So many have losts their churches and extended families, yet they persevere. I am always encouraged by PFLAG visits.
From there I traveled to Bellingham, Washington where I spent two days addressing issues related to gender inequity at Western Washington University. Though I was busy from morning through evening, I found the students, faculty and administrators powerfully committed to the changes that must occur for us to create gender equity in our nation. I wish I could have remained in Bellingham longer. The people were wonderful!
After finishing at Western Washington, I headed back to Denver for one night before flying on to Cleveland, Ohio to speak with Jonathan at the City Club of Cleveland, a venerable institution that has been hearing from some of the world’s most distinguished leaders since 1912. It was quite an honor to speak at their monthly gathering, aired live on Cleveland’s NPR station and taped for airing this past Sunday on the Cleveland PBS station. One of the hallmarks of the City Club is a commitment to allowing the public to ask questions in each gathering. Jonathan and I were interviewed by their CEO for 30 minutes, then took questions from the audience for another 30. We had such an enjoyable time.
As soon as we finished speaking at City Club, I headed back to the airport to interview potential writers for the movie that will be made about my life. I boarded a plane about 5:30, then flew through Chicago before getting back to Denver late Friday evening.
Saturday at 5:00, I preached at Left Hand Church, and Sunday morning I preached all three services at both facilities of Denver Community Church. I spent the afternoon with one of my good friends, then after 15 presentations in eight days, I collapsed on the couch and read The Atlantic and The New Yorker before finally going to bed.
I enjoy being busy. I feel called to the work I am doing. I love speaking on gender equity, LGBTQ inclusion and spirituality. Except for the four times I preached, every presentation over those eight days included Q&A time, often as long as 60 minutes. Regardless of the subject or setting, people always ask about my faith, and how I can find myself in the church after being ostracized by the church I had been a part of my entire life. Whether the audience is religious or secular, I always tell them I am in the church because I love Jesus, pure and simple.
Church is my grounding. I preached four times last week and earned preaching 1/14 of what I earned during the previous week. I do not preach for the income. I preach for the pure joy. At Left Hand I preached on Saturday evening, and cried again, for the second sermon in a row. I told a story about Jen Jepsen, my co-pastor, and wasn’t prepared to be so emotionally overcome. Jen, as much as anybody I know, wants to get it right, not to earn points with God or anybody else, but because her heart is so steadfastly turned toward that which is good and redemptive and beautiful. After church we interviewed a new member for our Leadership Council, then I headed to dinner with the other pastors and one of our LC members. I got to bed really late.
Sunday morning I was up early and drove to Denver Community Church, where I preached at 9:00 AM in the first service at their Washington Park location. Then I rode with Jon Gettings, their executive pastor, to the uptown location on Pearl Street (pictured above) where we got into the building after the service had started. I had time to get on the mic headset and sing one worship song before heading up to the stage. When I was done, I walked off the stage, took off the headset, and rode with Jon back to Wash Park for the 11:00 AM service. Same story there. I arrived in time to put on the headset and sing one worship song before preaching for the third time.
It was the fourth time I had preached that sermon. I would have been happy to preach it four more times. I talked about the simplicity of being a follower of Jesus. I spoke of finding our moral foundation in just three questions from the very last day of the public ministry of Jesus: Does what I am doing allow me to love God? Does it allow me to love my neighbor? Does it allow me to love myself? It is incredibly simple. (I did not say it was easy.)
If you want to watch the sermon, you can click here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRjAOw1RToYRc6GJfgdGR5w
If you want to listen to Sunday’s version, you can go to denverchurch.org and find an audio version of the message there. I love preaching and I love the church. And yep, I still love it every bit as much as I did before I was ostracized. In fact, more.
The winds of generous Christianity are blowing across this nation, and the seeds of justice and kindness are taking root where hearts were hardened. It is an honor to be riding such a gentle and persistent wind.