Bodies and Desire: Song of Songs 2.8–13

Delivered at Ames UCC on Sunday, June 16, 2019
©The Rev. Eileen Gebbie

Sermons are the result of pastoral preparation, congregational presence, and Holy Spirit participation. Please join me in that mysterious but always delightful process at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays, except in July and August when times vary. Check the calendar for details.

2019.6.16 song of songsENOUGH?
So we have gone from online harassment and threats by a thousand people hiding behind their computers to an in-person physical assault by one person who doesn’t even hide from the press.

Is it too much?

Maybe with our participation in Ames Pridefest, listing preferred pronouns in our public material, and our now-burned pride banner, we have gone too far. Maybe it is time to tone down our affirmation of queer people a bit, press pause on our witness, now that the virtual has become the actual.

None of us wants to be the next Pulse Nightclub.

Believe me, I am tired of thinking through how to respond to someone standing up in one of these pews during worship and taking aim.

But when we are tired, when we feel anxious, and when we need answers, we do not stop at our anxiety or our fatigue.

We have learned through our lives of seeking, doubting, and even having faith, that we are better, and better together, when we allow ourselves to be guided by prayer, scripture, and the kind of understanding that can only occur in a gathered body of Christ.

Here we are gathered and here we have already prayed a bit, so now is the time to look to scripture.
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A Step Backwards—To Hate

Published Nov 21, 2016 in the Ames Tribune

By Eileen Gebbie

When I was a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, I had the opportunity to teach. Although I had never, myself, taken an introduction to sociology course, I was assigned to TA three discussion sections of 30 students each in the intro course at Illinois.

The lecturer for the course went through the primary markers that determine each of our life chances (our access to resources): race, class, sex/gender, sexuality and ability. I think if she were teaching it now, we would have also talked about nation of origin and religion.

As a result, we learned a lot of history and considered issues in the news. This included the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man in Wyoming, and the subsequent efforts to pass hate crimes legislation in local municipalities and at the national level. (The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 2009. Byrd was a black man who was lynched and decapitated in Texas in 1998.)

I don’t think any of my students believed killing Shepard was acceptable. Some may have thought he “asked for it” by being “too gay,” but I don’t believe anyone tried to justify the actual beating or leaving him exposed to the elements with his arms tied out to his sides, as in a crucifixion. But they also really struggled with the notion of special protection under the law.

It sounded too much like “special rights,” the phrase often used by anti-gay groups to suggest that the LGBTQIA community was trying to get access to more power and privileges simply by asking for the right to fair access housing, the right to not be fired because of their biology, and the right to enter into the civil contract that is marriage.

Yet when I asked them whether they thought crimes ever went ignored, under-investigated or under-prosecuted because someone might be a woman or Trans or Latino, they said yes. My majority white, majority Chicago-suburb students had no problem believing there could be inconsistency in the treatment of victims of crime.

As of this writing, not quite two weeks since the presidential election, America has seen a surge in hate crimes (or at least the reporting of hate crimes). More than 700 have already been documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
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