Wednesday, November 9, 2016

About Last Night

I am thankful for friends, who let me absorb some of my shock in their home. It gave me enough air that when I was called to go to Mad Myrna's by another friend, I could go. Because if you're called to the gay bar on election night because people are crying and want to talk, you put your shoes back on and your glasses and you go. I went as a pastor, but a friend also said, "We need you as a human being."

And so I went. And I listened. And I was sober like a rock because I can't drink right now. 

There was laughter and crying. 

And then the thing that blew me away: a guy I had met earlier because he came with some friends to Election Day Communion leaned his head in to talk to me. 

"Tonight was my first experience with Christianity. It was really nice. Really welcoming and helpful. I liked it," he said. 

Election Night Communion at Lutheran Church of Hope in Anchorage, AK was his first experience with Christianity. I don't know if that meant ever in a church. I am sure it meant he had his first communion since I didn't skip him. It was small group on what turned out to be a hard night where no partisan language was shared and where we laughed and sighed and shared Jesus. 

I think my eyes were the size of peaches when I replied, "Thank you for trusting us." 

"It was really good," he said again. 

I hugged and was hugged. I listened to a long lecture on Trotskyism. When Mike Pence came, there was literal wailing and gnashing of teeth. The pain in the room- the screaming and real grief- was such that the bartender turned the channel to HGTV. In that space, we needed to turn away from the man who hasn't renounced conversion therapy to the mundane nature of two people building a house. 

There was real pain, real grief, real fear. 

And in that space I just listened. 

At one point, a guy was talking to a group of people about why we can't get along. Not asking, he was explaining why- at length. I was next to him, but he never ever looked at me. Finally he said, "Why don't we rise up?" 

"Because you can't see me," I volunteered. He turned to me, "You're right. I don't see you. I didn't. And, normally, I wouldn't at all, but I do tonight." 

Tonight I was part of someone's first experience with Christianity. And I was part of one man's recognition of how he looks at the world. And a Trump voter in my congregation texted me amid all this and said, "God Bless America." 

Who don't I see? What do I assume about the people in front of me in any place, especially in church? What do I say to someone who chortles, purposely, at my pain and that of others? 

It's been a long day. A painful day. A prayerful day. 

And I ache because there are a lot of hurting people right now. And I'm not going to say that it will be okay because I don't know that it will. 

Yes, on a theologically cosmic level, it will. But if I learned anything from Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation, it's that it can really suck on the way. 

It's late (or early) and I'm going to bed. Tomorrow I might be someone else's first experience with Christianity and I better rest up for it.

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