Out in Scripture Gospel Reflections: Insiders & Outsiders

Out in Scripture” is a project of the Religion and Faith  Programme of the Human Rights Campaign, which I found when reading about it on Fr Geoff Farrow’s blog.  It is the culmination of extensive discussion between 100 different scholars and pastors from 11 different denominations, based on the Revised Common Lectionary.  A particularly innovative feature that I have not seen elsewhere, is a parallel set of reflections specifically from the Trans perspective.

This is the main Gospel conversation for today, the 26th Sunday in ordinary time:

Mark 9:38-50 revolves around the theme of unexpected alliances. Jesus’ disciples, seeing someone casting out demons in Jesus’ name, wanted to stop him because he was not a part of their group (Mark 9:38). But Jesus’ rebukes the disciples: “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40). Earlier (Mark 9:33-37), Jesus challenged the disciples’ understanding of what it means to be “great,” reminding them, “whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” It seems the disciples focused on power and control. They assumed a position of privilege. They wanted to regulate who was in and who was out. This is much the same as when Christian communities attempt to regulate “who is in and who is out” by restricting the access and roles of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in their congregations and denominations. Charles Allen observes that if one takes this passage seriously, blocking ministry of outsiders is a grave offense.

What gifts are churches missing out on by the exclusion of LGBT people from their communities?

Jesus’ admonition, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42), can be heard differently. Michael Miller proposes that people who are not creating stumbling blocks, but are contributing to the welfare of the community, are acceptable. They are acceptable whether they describe themselves in relation to the reign of God or not.

Holly Hearon hears this verse as a caution to the disciples not to exclude — that is, place a stumbling block before — those who are casting out demons in Jesus’ name. The text reminds us that the “in group” may be far larger than we can imagine. Allies may arise from unexpected places.

Who has proved to be an “unexpected ally” to you or your community in your efforts to work for the inclusion of LGBT people in church and society?

Also read some reflections on a range of additional readings here.

The Trans reflection

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