INTRODUCTION to our guests from the LGBTQ Asylum Task Force from the Hadwen Park UCC church in Worcester, MA.
Dear asylum seekers who we are so lucky to have as guests today,
In this church, we worship a God whose other name is Love. I can proudly say that since a year ago at exactly this time in 2017, this congregation unanimously affirms what we know to be true about God:
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. God loves every part of who you are, no matter who you love. God knit you intricately in the depths of your mothers’ wombs, lovingly created you exactly who you are now, and called you “good.” Then God named you "Beloved." We affirm in this congregation unanimously the belief that God does not make mistakes.
We also believe that your stories are part of the story of God, and so we are honored to hear them today. We will listen for the voice of God resounding within them.
...Testimonies from our guests...
Bode and Calvin, I am so glad you came to our church to be baptized today. We don’t know the two of you very well yet, but we do know your Mamoo, Sue, and we knew your Great Grandma (did you call her GGma?) before she went home to live with God. They are special people who make our church and our world a better place, so we know that you are lucky. We also know this about you:
You were fearfully and wonderfully made.
That’s a fancy way of saying you are awesome, and your bodies and your souls are perfect and whole and right and good because you were created by God to be exactly who you are. Today we affirmed the fact that you were already blessed by God, just by being born into this world.
You were formed by a God who loves every part of you. God has searched and known you; even your inward parts. Especially your heart. God already knows who you were born to be. God created you and called you “good.” And then God named you beloved.
You were born to love—you were born to be a blessing. You were born to love many people: your family, yes. But also your neighbors, your community, and all of the people of this beautiful and brutal world we live in. You will do this imperfectly, but it will be your life’s project.
Today is Martin Luther King Sunday, the day that we celebrate a man who died long before you were born, Bode and Calvin, but who lives on in our hearts and minds and imaginations. He was a minister who preached the Truth: that all people were created by God and called Beloved. He said: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”…I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Like Jesus, he taught us that all children, just like you, are fearfully and wonderfully made. Every child who is born to every parent, in every country, all over the world. You might hear from our leaders or your friends at school sometimes that our country or "our" people are somehow better than other countries or people. Those are human voices resounding like a noisy gong. That is not God’s voice. Listen for God instead. God’s voice echoes throughout the heavens saying this: “I created this whole world and called it Good—the heavens and the earth. The night and the day. The grass and the trees. The animals and the people. You are my son, my daughter, the beloved. In you, I am well-pleased.
Likewise, the children of Haiti and Africa and Mexico and in every part of my world are my beloved creations. Intricately made in the depths of the earth. Loved and whole.”
Each of you were fearfully and wonderfully made, created in the depths of the earth, searched and known and named Beloved. God does not make mistakes. You are exactly who you are supposed to be.
But there’s more. You were knit into the tapestry of this particular place and these particular people to be a blessing; a healing on this earth.
The song that the choir is going to sing a little later was commissioned for Doctor King’s funeral…his favorite hymn, Precious Lord. And the lyrics were written just for his return home to God. I want you to hear them as a prayer:
Precious Lord, take my hand, bring Thy child home at last, where the strife and the pain are all past; I have dreamed a great dream that thy love shall rule our land. Precious Lord, precious Lord, take my hand.
Precious Lord, take my hand, take Thy child unto Thee, with my dream of a world that is free for that day when all flesh joins the glory thou has planned, precious Lord, precious Lord, take my hand.
Rev. Robin Bartlett is the Senior Pastor at the First Church in Sterling, Massachusetts. www.fcsterling.org