ELM Pride Blog! By Kelsey Brown

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A Higher Love!
By Rev. Kelsey Brown

Maybe it’s the fact that we share a birthday?

Two proud August Leos with sass and chaotic energy to prove it. 
Or that we’re both former East Coast/Black Church choir singers
Maybe It’s her troubled past or her love affair with her long-time best friend. 
But I have always felt incredibly connected to Whitney Houston 
Brought to my knees by her death and to standing ovation by her voice.
When I think about Pride, of the thump of techno beats and the freeness of shared space I feel fully myself. I can’t help but think about how much more free her life would have been if she was able to move and exist as her true self. What her future would have been if she was called beloved and not given over to the fame game to be chewed up and spit out. If she, like some of us would have listened to her heart and not the harshness of her family, of their church…. of societies expectations. 
The first time I heard “higher love” by Kygo and Whitney Houston I was in awe! The words were moving of course but coupled with the dance beat – something just settled in my spirit. I was equal parts ready to find my rightful place in the middle of a gay bar dance floor to belt my face off and to burst into tears. 
“Think about it.
There must be a higher love.
Down in the heart or hidden in the stars above.
Without it, life is wasted time.
Look inside your heart, and I’ll look inside mine
Things look so bad everywhere.
In the whole world, what is fair?
We walk the line and try to see.
Failing behind in what could be, oh.
Bring me a higher love!
Bring me a higher love, oh! 
Bring me a higher love! 
Where’s that higher love I keep thinking of?”
Isn’t that what we want friends? In the middle of this dumpster fire of a world – a higher love. A love that transcends any barriers, that transports us to the stars above. 
Don’t we want a world filled with more fairness – a full life and not a wasted one. 
I know in this community, of Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries and its programmatic branch, Proclaim I have been able to find this “higher love”. This love that uplifts and supports. This love that stretches and pulls towards. Full belly laughter coupled with the dark humor of “I’ve been through that before, here’s how to make it out the other side.”  I have loved our comradery, the both/and, the joy and the sorrow.
I have loved you. Each of you. For the gifts you bring to our community and for the hope you bring to our Church. 
Yet sadly, the Church continues to have debates about us without us. The world has perverted Christ’ message of welcome and care for the other to mean just some, or only people who look, think, and act like we want them to. Well… today instead of wishing them a few choice words I wish them a higher love – a more expansive view. I wish them what we have found to be true, that queerness and transness are gifts given by God – that our belovedness is not despite of our identities but because God created us to be so and in turn calls us beloved. I wish them that kind of love – the love we’ve been dreaming of. 

Rev. Kelsey Brown (she/her) describes herself as sometimes funny, frequently anxious, and completely committed to the liberation of all marginalized persons. Hailing from Suffolk County, Long Island, New York – she comes equipped with the accent & attitude to back it up. In her free time Pastor Kelsey can be found at the beach with a book of spoken word poetry, breaking it down on the dance floor, and exploring with Christian ritual creation. She believes with her full heart that God’s delight in diversity is call for us all to embrace the fullness of humanity.

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