Proclaim Chaplains & January Devotion

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Proclaim, the professional community for Lutheran pastors, rostered lay leaders and seminarians who publicly identify as LGBTQ has three chaplains.  The chaplains welcome new Proclaim members and offer support to Proclaim members in need. The chaplains are selected by the Proclaim community at the retreat.  The current 3 chaplains are: Jeanne Reardon, Austin Newberry and Laura Kuntz.

Each month Austin writes a devotional for the Proclaim community.  Austin lives in Tallahassee, FL and is awaiting his first call.  We wanted to share this month’s devotional with you.

January Devotion by Austin Newberry

Austin NewberryJanuary 21, 2013 was a red letter day on my calendar, a trifecta of sorts. Two of the events that came together this past Monday are widely known, the observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and the second inaugural of Barak Obama. I want to start my reflection with the third, far less known, event.

On January 21st every year, a relative handful of Benedictine monasteries around the world who can trace their foundation back to the ancient Swiss Abbey of Einsiedeln, keep the memory of Meinrad, martyr of hospitality. A 10th century monk, Meinrad left his monastic community and lived as a hermit in what is now central Switzerland. His life was committed both to solitary prayer and the offering of hospitality in the name of Christ to travelers. Believing that he was hoarding a great treasure (gifts from pilgrims and travelers) in his hut, two robbers showed up, took advantage of his generous hospitality and then killed him in an act of senseless violence. Meinrad’s dying words were of forgiveness for his murderers. Like Christian martyrs before and sense, the hermit was a witness to Christ in his dying. The story of his death, first recounted by the very men who killed him, has been retold annually on January 21 for over a thousand years.

By coincidence, the annual U.S. “Monday holiday” observing the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. fell on January 21st this year. We are all aware of the story of Dr. King’s life and the act of senseless violence that ended it. Dr. King, though a family man, also lived a somewhat solitary life as he traveled the land speaking out against injustice, pricking the consciences of his fellow Christians and advocating non-violent responses to oppression. Dr. King is also called a martyr, not simply a political martyr, but a Christian martyr in the fullest sense of the word – a witness of Christ by his death.

January 21st’s inauguration of President Obama’s second term was a momentous occasion in our nation’s history. A black man has been elected and then reelected as president of a nation still deeply wounded by racial strife a century and a half after the emancipation proclamation. No matter your political beliefs, the import of this event cannot be minimized. (I suspect that is why those who oppose Obama are so angry.) And, for those of us who are LGBTQ and our friends, families and allies, the president’s inclusion of some of us in his address was a momentous breakthrough, no matter how incomplete. We rejoice at how far we come even as we struggle to move forward.

In the face of the current political realities in our country and the many challenges faced by our nation and our world, the martyrs Meinrad and Martin speak a specifically Christian word of gospel to our situation. Forgive me for being so bold as to suggest some of the components of this message:

1. Christian life is a blend of community and solitude, contemplation and action.
2. Hospitality and justice are two sides of the same coin.
3. Intentional non-violence is a frightening but viable Christian and Christ-like response to the violence of our time.
4. Forgiveness of enemies is the path to genuine freedom.
5. Jesus Christ nowhere promised safety to those who take up the path of discipleship.

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