“God Will See Us Home” (Part 6) – “Coming Home” by the Revd Dr Hayley Matthews
At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you.
I will rescue the lame;
I will gather the exiles.
I will give them praise and honour
in every land where they have suffered shame.
At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
‘Home’ is such a loaded word for someone from the LBGTI+ community.
A sense of belonging is core to the human need for security, safety and loving relationships yet for many ‘family’, ‘home church’, or even ‘community’ are the source of exclusion, malicious gossip, ridicule and even abuse.
Even for those for whom a silent tolerance exists, an almost permanent sense of exile persists wherever there is a consciousness that one doesn’t quite fit the mould.
For LGBTI+ people of faith, the LGBTI+ community can also seem excluding and a world away from lives of faith, discipleship and service where this, your new community, marvel at your complete devotion to what they perceive as pious patriarchy.
More hurtful still, is the injustice that for simply being yourself, your sisters and brothers in Christ believe they have the right to force you into exile from your community of faith, consciously or unconsciously. Some individuals are kicked out, whereas others suffer the drip-drip-drip of being repeatedly made aware that they will simply never be accepted as they are.
This leaves a profound wound where the constant shame of outings and exclusions and endless new beginnings deeply bruise the heart, crushing one’s spirit.
Sometimes silence is the only way to go on.
Yet this wonderful passage from Zephaniah speaks of God gathering ‘us’ all in.
The promise is one of an unspoken but deep intimacy; I know your (hidden) shame; I have witnessed your (everyday) oppression; I will gather your (scattered) self from the places to which you have been driven and bring you home.
Home, to the One who runs out to greet the long lost child; home to the One who searches high and low for that last lost coin; home to the One who hangs beside the accused and says, “today you will be with me in paradise”.
Lord, give us grace to find our home in you wherever we may be, and to find our way home to you, at the last.