What Would We Do?

I happened across a story on Facebook about my hometown of Billings, Montana. Someone had defaced the rainbow flag of Grace United Methodist Church. A swastika was spray painted onto it and the choir room door where anti-gay material was left. Several schools reported similar vandalism of their buildings.

My first thought was not, ‘who would do such a thing,’ but how do people who are LGBTQ deal with this overt act of hate? What makes some people bounce back from difficulty and others fall into despair?

On this last Sunday of Ordinary Time before Lent, we hear, once again, the story of Jesus’ transfiguration on a mountain top. In this story foretelling his resurrection, Jesus offers some of his key leaders a snapshot of resurrected life. Of course, they’d rather make the scene permanent – it’s that wonderful, but instead Jesus asks them to hold it in confidence. Hmmm…

Though we celebrate resurrection on Easter, every day offers us opportunities for transformation. Resurrection is a movement from death back to life, but it is also a move from despair to hope, from failure to beginning again.

Pastor Sarah Beck said about the incident at her Billings church, “It’s certainly an attempt at intimidation,” she said. “But it’s not going to work. We’re not going to shrink away from being who we are in the community, as a congregation … we’re going to pray for those people.” (Link) So my lingering question is: how might we cultivate resilience along the way when letdowns and heartbreak are just as probable as joy? How do we resist hate without being hateful? I would love to see Billings residents put rainbow flags in all their windows as a show of acceptance and support. “Not In Our Town” was their response in 1993 after a rash of hate crimes against Jewish people. What would we do in a situation like this?

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