I find this passage from Job fascinating.
Job is angry with God. And God is absent, so Job can't even get redress in a court of law. Job hasn't done anything wrong -- "But God stands alone and who can dissuade God? What God desires, that God does." There is no court Job can appeal to. And so the passage wraps up with Job's terror and dread of God.
Just the sort of upbeat passage you wanted for National Coming Out Day, right?
"But God knows the way that I take; when God has tested me, I shall come out like gold." (Verse 14)
Leaving aside the problematic issue of suffering as testing, hear what Job is saying.
But God knows the way that I take. And I shall come out like gold.
God knows the way that I take.
This is the core of the Incarnation, isn't it? "We have a high priest who in every respect has been tested as we are," as Paul writes in the letter to the Hebrews.
How many times have we cried out -- "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Psalm 22:1. Matthew 27:46. The words of David. The words of Jesus.
But Psalm 22 ends -- as so many of the Psalms do -- with an affirmation of the greatness of God. "The poor shall eat and be satisfied [...] future generations will be told about I AM, and proclaim God's deliverance to a people yet unborn, saying that I AM has done it." Just as Matthew ends with the Resurrection. Okay, actually, I looked it up to be sure, and Matthew ends with the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20)
Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw Jesus, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Creator and of the Christ and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.""I am with you always, to the end of the age."
This is the Good News that the Christian story proclaims -- that God will never leave us. That God loved us so much, that God Incarnated, became flesh and dwelt among us, and even now, the Church struggles to continue to embody Christ for the world, guided by the Holy Spirit. To deliver people from that which oppresses them.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, "Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these. [...] And I will ask the One who sent me, and God will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees her nor knows her. You know her, because she abides with you, and she will be in you." (John 14:12, 16-17)
We are called to a continual process of coming out -- of living more fully into the life that God wills for us, of drawing ever closer to God.
In the song "For Real," Bob Franke sings [lyrics and chords, YouTube]:
Some say that God is a loverJesus has a coming out story, too. "Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house." (Mark 6:4) Jesus knows what it is to be called to something far different from what is expected of us, knows what it is to choose a new family from the one we were born into.
Some say it's an endless void
Some say both, some say she's angry
Some say he's just annoyed
But if God felt a hammer in the palm of his hand
Then God knows the way we feel
And love lasts forever
Forever and for real
We are called to be allies. Allies to persons who are marginalized because of their gender identity or gender presentation. Allies to persons who are marginalized because of their sexual activities between mutually, meaningfully, consenting persons. Allies to persons who are marginalized because of the language they speak, or don't speak; because of their country of origin or their citizenship status. Allies to persons who are marginalized because of their political or religious beliefs. Allies to persons who are marginalized because of their physical or mental health.
All those to whom society said, "You don't belong," Jesus said, "Yes you do. Come join the feast at my table. In my family’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (John 14:2)
I heard a Reflection earlier this week about taking Communion as an act of coming out to God. In the act of taking Communion, we open ourselves to receive the very life of God into our own bodies, allowing the love and the Call of God to transform us.
So go forth, to be transformed and to transform the world.
Happy National Coming Out Day.