For the four Sundays of Advent, Bondings 2.0 is featuring Scriptural reflections by LGBTQ Catholics writing on the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality in biblical contexts.
Today’s reflection is from Gordon Creamer. Gordon is the creator of The Mission Bridge, from which he offers workshops and retreats for adults, seniors, and the LGBTQ community. He holds a masters degree in Spiritual & Pastoral Care from Loyola University, Maryland. He is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Ministry at the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary & University in Baltimore.
The liturgical readings for the Second Sunday of Advent can be found by clicking here.
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In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist receives the Word of salvation in the desert and brings it to ancient Near Eastern audiences around the Jordan River. In his fervor, John draws upon the prophet Isaiah and his employment of wilderness imagery to hearken awareness for the need to change. The use of the word “wilderness” in modern parlance often conjures up images of a place of great unknown and teeming with abundant, raw possibilities with graced opportunities to start over again. However, when interpreting this Gospel passage through the lens of the LGBTQ+ experience, we need to explore some of the archaic nuances of this word so that the particular journey of our community comes into sharper focus and a hope-filled validation can be discovered in its ongoing struggle for inclusion and welcome.
In the New Testament context, the wilderness was perceived to be an uncultivated, uninhabited and inhospitable region. Often, a geographical space such as this included a neglected or abandoned garden or town. This understanding of wilderness resonates in a strongly meaningful way for Catholic LGBTQ+ people and allies. Our community is dwelling in the wilderness of our Church! We need not gaze too far around within ecclesial settings before noticing we are often in unfavorable locations. And, how often must we painfully recognize that our area of the Church is one which has been abandoned with great neglect?
But, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are imbued with an exquisite hope, not to be diminished or extinguished. And, in this holy Season of Advent, we light our candles once again, and remember the story of when our God did something unbelievable in the wilderness. We must also acknowledge, too, that despite the interspersed areas of neglect, the forgotten garden has not laid dormant. Indeed, there are prophetic voices elevating awareness of our strife while certain religious women and men advocate for our inclusion and celebration. In other words, while inhospitality exists in the wilderness, the potential for cultivation and habitation also looms largely and wildly.
As LGBTQ+ individuals, we can dwell in hope alongside our allies and join the voices that are already announcing God’s holy path in the desert. We are divinely called here and now to cry out in our designated wilderness. In raising our voices, we begin to inhabit the Church in a very intentional way as we respond affirmatively to God’s specific call. All is grace here. And with that, our overlooked, disregarded garden will continue its transformation into a thriving botanical province within the Church that was originally manifested by God to be our spiritual home.
As you observe Advent in your own unique way, may you be richly overcome with the joy and hope of what our wilderness could be. And, may you be filled with the valiant courage to lift your voice and keep moving forward on the creative path to embrace the beautiful potential of this time.
– Gordon Creamer, December 5, 2021