June 19, 2012: You’re going to get it!

Posted on : Jun 19th, 2012 | By | Category: Still Speaking










Beyoncé stole our hearts when she sang Etta James’ famous song, “At Last!” at the Presidential inaugural ball for Barack Obama.  While the President and First Lady danced to a beautiful love song, those of us who longed for “a new day” knew those words had a double meaning.  At Last the racial barrier had been broken.  At Last the President of the United States reflected the diversity that is really America today.  At Last the President of the United States is someone who those of us you have been labeled “minorities” can relate to.  We all hoped that “At Last” we had elected a President that was going to move our country forward on equality issues.

Until a few weeks ago, for many of us, the “change we could believe in” wasn’t happening fast enough.  But in the last few weeks, Mr. Obama has found his mojo.

A few weeks ago we were elated when the President publicly “came out” for equal marriage. And last week those of us who care about the inclusion of immigrants were equally excited as the President announced a significant action that provides an opportunity for older teens and young adults who were born in other countries and brought here as children to have a way to be here legally.  It’s certainly not the answer to the complex issue of immigration, but it’s more hopeful than anything else that has been offered.  Interestingly, the day the President announced this policy was also the day of graduation at UCLA.  That night on the news, I saw one UCLA graduate interviewed who was in tears.  Her undocumented parents had struggled so hard to put her through college, yet even with that, she had no hope of getting a job because of her undocumented immigration status.  Now she was going to apply to Medical School and pursue a career as a physician.

As I listened to this young woman’s story I thought of all the times in my life when I kept waiting for “the change we hoped for.”   Like many high school and college seniors I remember waiting and waiting [and waiting!!!]  for that acceptance letter from the college and graduate school that I really wanted to attend.  At Last – each of them came.  Then it was “Would I find the right church to serve?”  And At Last – that hope also came through!   And then it was, “Would any of us who were gay men survive the HIV/AIDS epidemic?”  Toward the end of the first decade of the epidemic, it seemed certain that sooner or later that horrible virus was going to kill all of us.  But At Last – that changed too.  Then I wondered “Would the Presbyterian Church ever change?”  I had given up hope on that one.  And then, At Last – God came through again.  Now that is “change you can believe in!”

I still can’t quite put into words what a joy it is to be in the United Church of Christ.  Two weeks ago, Laurie and I attended the Annual Gathering of our Southern California / Nevada Conference.  Our welcome was unbelievable.  I mean that literally – “un-believe-able.”  Everywhere, people were coming up and welcoming us into the United Church of Christ.  They were overflowing with joy.  When our Church’s name was mentioned in any gathering, thunderous applause broke out.  It was like being a rock star.

Saturday morning Laurie and I were at breakfast at a table with folks we had never met before, and they welcomed us.  Someone spoke about the LA Times article about our church.  One woman at the table hadn’t seen it – and the reaction from the rest of the table was like the conversation on the road to Emmaus after the Resurrection where the disciples were talking to the Risen Christ but didn’t recognize him.  (Remember the story?  Cleopas said emphatically to “the stranger,” “Are you the only person in Jerusalem who doesn’t know what happened!?!”)  And with that, a gentleman sitting across from us who had to be in his mid-80’s, opened his wallet and pulled out of a copy of the LA TIMES article that he had carefully folded and tucked in his wallet, as if this were the treasure of his life.  He unfolded it and carefully handed it to the woman!

After all this praise and exultation, I said to Laurie, “I wish there were some way we could share this excitement, this authenticity, this joy and extravagant welcome with all of our congregation.”  It was totally unfair that we were receiving all this unbounded joy when it was meant for everyone at WeHo UCC!  Well, this Sunday “you’re going to get it!”

Our worship service will be at 5pm this Sunday, June 24.  We have a celebration service planned that will blow you away!  This is our day.  Our New Day of being and becoming.  We have a large number of UCC friends joining us to welcome us into the United Church of Christ.  You’re going to be welcomed like you have never been welcomed in the Christian Church – I guarantee you.  You will not want to miss this service!   At last, At Last, AT LAST!



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