This past month I have found myself tumbling head first into the elaborate matrix known as "the liturgical committee" set up to plan a multi faith service in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the Supreme Court oral arguments on the freedom to marry.
Between now and Tuesday when oral arguments commence, many overtaxed volunteers will be pooling their resources to create such gatherings. Like me, they come back to these events. I believe, because of an inner and often unarticulated prodding to seize the awesome opportunity of creating a Holy moment in the political calendar.
As important as the highly orchestrated and tightly controlled rituals of our Courts are to our democracy, we as a people also need faith rituals--messy, hopelessly flawed, aspirational rituals--that ground us in our connectedness and provide us a moral compass for our collective mandate to make the world a better place. We need opportunities to intentionally realign our justice work to the sacred; to commit again and again and again to live our lives in such a way where justice radiates out of what is most Holy. This is work that needs big tents of rich religious traditions and deep religious longings.
For LGBTQ people and those who love them, such spaces are healing and even life-saving. Many of our faith traditions have cast us out or pushed us to the margins--we become the problem, the threat, the sin, the other. Many of our traditions have been held hostage by gatekeepers who have used religion to bind, contain, even strangle the power of love to transform our world.
While singular religious traditions can perhaps more smoothly mark monumental justice moments, we need the rituals that stretch us beyond our faith comfort zone. From the earth-based to the scripturally bound we need opportunities to worship in spaces where the tensions of difference become in and of themselves part of the ritual experience. Multi faith services are not a Benetton ad or a salad bar of faith diversity--even though they may sometimes feel that way--they are rather incarnational, attempting to call forth a community identity as transformers of the world grounded in the sacred.
Such rituals can help us set aside procedure and policy and legalities so that we can get to the core longing in all of us to be enveloped in the mysterious and awesome power of love. Without such rituals reminding us of the sacredness of love, we can lose our way and our justice work becomes warped and ugly, even oppressive.
So this week I hope you will join me in attending a big tent multi faith justice service in the wake of the Supreme Court's oral arguments on the freedom to marry.
My hope is that as you attend such events, you will go with an open heart ready to be moved by the spirit of love longing to be expressed in traditions both familiar and unknown.
This week may we communally follow the prodding of the Quaker abolitionist John Woolman who in the 18th century heard the voice of the Divine harkening him to the work of justice, reconciliation, and salvation, "Dig deep,... carefully cast forth the loose matter and get down to the rock, the sure foundation, and there hearken to the Divine Voice which gives a clear and certain sound." John Woolman (Quaker abolitionist), ca 1770.
May it be for us as well.
Click here for more information about the National Weekend of Prayer.