We proclaim with the Psalmist, “Where can we go from your spirit? Or where can
we flee from your presence? If we ascend to heaven, you are there; if we make our
bed in Sheol, you are there. If we take the wings of the morning and settle at the
farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead us, and your right hand
shall hold us fast.” In our worship and in our lives, may we cling to your presence
and your love. Amen.
I remember a story about Cath Crooks when she was one of the pastors here. My
memory is that she was asked to describe her typical style while preaching. She
tried something but was interrupted by Anna Orbovich who paused, took a sip of
water and began very earnestly, “It was a morose day in Nicaragua…” Everyone
laughed with knowing.
Particularly in these times, I think the same might be able to be said about me,
minus the sip of water….
So it might surprise you that I’m going to shape today’s brief reflection completely
on popular culture….
My daughter, Shannon, and I have been watching Glee. Do any of you know that
TV series about a high school glee choir? It’s on Netflix now so we’re making our
way through it.
The show centers on the lives of a dozen high school students who are all
searching for and experimenting with who they are. Among them are the white
football stars who secretly love to sing; the Asian American boy whose father
demands that he go to medical school but who has the soul and body of a dancer;
the lesbian Latinx girl who’s a mean girl cheerleader to keep her true self hidden;
the gay white boy whose soprano voice and fashion sense make it impossible to
hide from the bullies; and the white boy in the wheelchair whose tenor is
Often, as they are going down the hallways of the high school in Lima, Ohio, they
are met by a group of popular kids who throw slushies in their faces and call them
I have to admit that I love Glee—I’m not sure if it’s in spite of or because of its
campy nature. And the music and dancing give me life—especially right now
amidst all that is happening in our world. But I especially love it because of the
message it is teaching Shannon—almost in every episode.
Its lessons almost always show that the world is filled with those who spread
meanness and hatred. And there are insecure people whose fear of their own
mediocrity make them tear others down. Competitiveness and sharp elbows can
squelch our creativity and seek to keep us small. It isn’t easy. But, celebrate who
God made you to be. Claim your beauty, your power, your gifts and support the
same in all of God’s children.
Whether you’re Unique, the Black trans* girl with a voice of gold who is simply
gorgeous in the silver sequin dress, or you’re Puck, the Jewish son of a high school
drop out who is actually smart enough to pass the history test, claim who you
know yourself to be. Listen to God’s voice inside you, not the world’s voices.
Because you, and all of us, are so much better when we are fully and authentically
ourselves. And when we gather together in authenticity, we can do great things-
maybe even win at nationals!
Oh, God, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made….
Today we are taking some time to pause and ritually celebrate each of our unique
identities and our belovedness in the sight of God. And we’re honoring that we, as
a community, are so much richer, so much more powerful, so much more faithful,
when we celebrate the authentic people God has created us to be.
Especially in these times when the voices of hatred and fear seem so loud, it is all
the more necessary that we each claim our one wild and precious life. It is all the
more important that we incarnate that part of God that is only alive if we are.
As a way to symbolize that we are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made… in
order to claim our one wild and precious life in even a small way, we are invited
to spend the next 10-15 minutes decorating our name tags. There are pronoun
stickers, there are animal stickers, there are markers and rainbow stickers.
There is also paper and pens. If you’d like to spend a few minutes writing so you
have some clarity about what you’d like to put on your nametag, please do. There
are lanyards and Lyndale pins which you can put on your lanyard… And there is a
new nametag holder where you can hang your nametag after church.
So let us be in a period of prayer and writing, of creativity and claiming our
And, just so you don’t think I missed the fact that I was able to make an earnest
sermon out of Glee, I will try to claim my earnestness on my nametag. Amen.