What does a Queer Lutheran Family look like? by Rev. Gretchen Rode

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When my wife, Jill, and I got married 9 years ago this month, we had a reading from the book of Ruth. Drawn to the book by the two strong women who made promises to one another despite their different backgrounds and hard circumstances, we loved the vows that Ruth made to Naomi: “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). United by our love for one another and our commitment to following our callings, we hoped this reading would set us up for a future full of love together. We sealed our promises to one another with a kiss.
9 years later, at the beginning of this month, we had what we lovingly called “baptismpalooza” for our four adopted children. We remembered the story of Abraham, longing for a family, being told by God to look to the stars and remember the promise of a family as vast and wide and varied as the stars. On a day of pouring rain, we met under a leaking overhang at our
favorite park and reminded Niya, Aysha, William, and Willie that God loves them always and forever, sealing this promise with water and prayer.
Adopting four children during the pandemic hasn’t been easy. Coordinating and leading two churches as a clergy couple hasn’t been easy. Being a queer person and a woman in the United States these days has not been easy.
And yet, when we doubt we can make it, when it seems like there is no hope, it is then that the promises of care from our friends, families, and congregations have come through. Our queer, beautiful, dynamic family has been embraced and supported in so many ways: by the food dropped off at our doorstep, by the crowd at the wet baptism, by the hopes and prayers of so many. At our kiddos’ baptism, we read words written for us by the Reverend Sarah Rouse Clark: “Families are made in so many ways; by birth, by adoption, by choice, by marriage, by
circumstance, by tragedy, by love, formally, and informally. The Bible is full of different kinds of families and over and over again we see that God dwells within them all” (SAPLC Adoption Blessing).
Our queer Lutheran family leans on promises. The promises that Jill and I made to each other. The promises we made to the judge when we adopted our children. The promises that our communities made to us to support us always. The promises that God made to each of us in our baptism: You are loved. You are beautiful. You are mine.
May the promises of God uphold you in your queer Lutheran family today and always.

Article ImageGretchen Rode (she/her) is the “One and Only Pastor” at House of Hope Lutheran Church in the Twin Cities, MN. She and her wife, Jill Rode (pastor at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church) live with their four children and new pup in a house full of laughter, books, board games, maps, and far too many chicken nuggets for their liking.

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