I took a day off and missed Sunday worship to go to and be in the SF Pride parade. I had never watched it “live” before, and as they were saying it may be the last in SF, due to financial straits, I thought I better go now. I also wanted to walk with the many other Christian denominations in
the parade to celebrate the church’s welcome, as Christ’s body and presence in the world, open to all of God’s people.
I knew our position as a group was near last in the parade and so I stood on a corner watching until our time to step into the parade came. I was thrilled to see so many other St. Johns’ folks in the parade; for their child’s school, for a government department, running for political office or a corporation. I was amazed at the expressions of pride, some of which would certainly not be allowed even on US Air! But I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I saw things that made me blush. I was reminded of God’s creativity at making each person different, not confined to our image, what we would create, but in God’s glorious image. My imagination of what God is up to in all our lives was indeed stretched. I had a special sense of God’s presence as I witnessed the freedom and acceptance of almost everyone along the parade route. I watched the children, unsophisticated and receptive; enjoy the diversity, colors and enthusiasm of openness, with encouraging parents willing to take on the questions they no doubt heard on their way home.
After we entered the parade, the response we received along the route was interesting; some were surprised, others were thrilled, while others were nonplussed. I’m guessing that almost no one along the route knew, nor cared, that only a month earlier our denomination ended a 33 year debate over ordaining lesbians and gays, by approving it or that our “mother” church, the Church of Scotland approved a similar measure. They weren’t interested in our understanding of scripture, our integrity or our struggle. They were interested in whether they were loved – what God says about them and what we say to them. Hopefully they heard enough to know that they are
accepted and loved. We were shouting the good news. We hope they heard. How terrifying it must be to go to a church that historically has demonized you, or said in essence “we will love you, only if you change to fit our way of thinking.”
We carried a banner that said “Presbyterian.” I’m sure many had never heard that strange name before. It certainly didn’t tell the whole story of the good news, nor was it meant to. That’s not what parades are about. They tell only a bit of the story. The rest is up to you and me, in our
encounters, our smiles, glances of the eye, our manner of acceptance our open, engaging questions and sharing our story. You, me, we’re all part of the historical parade of good news that Jesus calls us to strut in, to shout, wave, carry a balloon and ride on a float. Ok, I better stop. I’m taking the metaphor a bit too far. But you catch my drift.
So it wasn’t just a parade, but a presence of God’s possibilities in us, for us. God walked down Market Street on Sunday! So I didn’t miss worship after all.