Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be comfortable in your own skin. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but it is.
All too often our culture teaches us to ostracize the different, to fear that which we can’t understand, to alienate our siblings for no reason other than they’re different. For those who endure being cast out, that’s bad enough, but the injury magnifies when those values are couched in our faith structure.
One regrettable legacy of Christianity from the last 50 years will be the intentional expulsion of the LGBTQIA+ community. Fortunately, pockets of resistance have provided welcome, inclusion, and compassion. Those pockets are diverse, numerous, and growing. It’s a source of hope for progressive Christians and for Chalice.
I had the sacred opportunity to be immersed in one of those pockets at the Colors of Hope retreat in late October. About three dozen faith-filled LGBTQ+ people and allies gathered at the Christmount retreat center near Asheville, North Carolina, for four days of fellowship, connection, and faith. Earlier this year Chalice Press published Colors of Hope: A Devotional Journal from LGBTQ+ Christians, the book that inspired the retreat, and we are proud co-sponsors of the event organized by Disciples AllianceQ. We were encouraged to wonder at the world around us, resist the pressure to conform, to stretch ourselves, to share our faith and hopes for our world, and to hope for each other and our faith.
We were encouraged to be comfortable in our own skins.
For four days in the Appalachians, amid a blanket of autumn colors and splendid weather, all was right with the world.
Melissa Guthrie is the executive director of Disciples AllianceQ, Colors of Hope’s editor and a contributor, and the retreat organizer. Several other contributors led workshops, and everybody had a part to play in building the kind of community we imagine in our most optimistic moments. Together, we were hoping in color — Kodachrome, technicolor, use-all-the-filters color.
The most life-changing moments of the Colors of Hope retreat are also the hardest to detect. My hunch is that each of us came down from the mountaintop changed in ways we couldn’t quite explain but could certainly sense deep in our souls. It could simply have been a look into a different way of life, or it could have been a sense of acceptance by a new family that will sustain them the rest of their life.
Christianity is slowly repenting for the sins of exclusion, returning to the community Jesus inspired in his ministry. Events like Colors of Hope ground us, guide us, and send us with God’s grace toward a better day.
Brad Lyons has served as president and publisher at CBP/Chalice since 2011.
You can get a glimpse of that better day for yourself or give it as a gift. Order your copy of Colors of Hope now.
(Photo: Contributors to Color of Hope at the closing worship (L-R): Rev. Allen V. Harris (he/him), William DeShay Jackson (they/them), Rev. Tyler Heston (he/him), Rev. Melissa Guthrie (she/her), Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen (she/they), Rev. Brendan Y. Boone (he/him), Nadia Tavera (she/they/elle)).