A Final Word from Associate Director of Generosity & Communications, Deacon Lewis

“You see the smile that’s on my mouth
It’s hiding the words that don’t come out
And all of our friends who think that I’m blessed
They don’t know my head is a mess”
Yesterday, it was announced that my position, and the Operations Support position, were eliminated at ELM. Amongst a backdrop of Pride celebrations at the same time as the Supreme Court wiped out the rights for persons of color and the queer community. In Brandi Carlile’s words, our collective “heads are a mess.” 
I spent the last 4.5 years on a journey, building up a movement, with my 400+ fellow queer seminarian & rostered ministry leaders- along with the thousands more queer & ally supporters from church pews to church councils to Churchwide. What an absolute joy & blessing. 
“All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am”
It’s been the best & hardest ministry- overflowing in stories of a movement’s journey. When Amanda left ELM to begin her ministry with her congregation in Maine, at her goodbye reception I told her the Executive Director for ELM really serves as an unofficial Queer Lutheran Bishop. This persons serves as a leader of movement that advocates & offers support for 400+ vulnerable ministry leaders while partnering with other marginalized Lutheran communities in an effort to move the church towards liberation, using our collective bargaining power to lift up & raise awareness to things on a more macro level than what most individual pastors can give time & energy towards. I have been a humble participant & witness to this. 
However, this past year has been hard. The ELM staff has been overtasked trying to maintain and keep the ship afloat in lieu of having this unofficial Queer Bishop. As we’re all now aware, the new ED search happened at the same time when a major drop in giving occurred. ELM’s statement regarding Bishop Rohrer’s racist’s actions towards ELM staff & board members- remains the prime reason ELM is struggling and why Sharei and I are no longer able to do ministry at ELM. 
The irony is and what is ultimately so infinity hard about this ministry and every ministry, is that if ELM said nothing about the harm caused, we would be fine. But the new executive director would probably just now, be deep in the process of pulling Proclaim membership of the former Bishop and apologizing to the community for waiting so long to do so- years after the harmful actions happened, adding another apology in a litany of apologies to communities of color for once again ignoring harmful actions. It’s unfortunate that ELM broke the cycle of this harmful Lutheran pattern and had to pay a heavy price for living into its mission and values. 
And yet, I close my ministry with ELM with a deep heartfelt belief that queer ministry leaders will continue to change the church for the better. 
We still need Lutheran organizations that advocate for queer seminarian and ministry leaders. Ask any rural queer pastor seeking a call or who is currently in a call- there is still much more work to be done!
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as I did with ELM. I look forward to partnering with you, and ELM, in the movement forward.  
“I climbed across the mountaintops
Swam all across the ocean blue
I crossed all the lines and I broke all the rules
But baby, I broke them all for you”
Blessings Beloved, 
Deacon Lewis


Deacon Lewis Eggleston (he/him) lives in Alexandria, VA with his husband and their pup, Carla. In his spare time (which I guess now is all the time), Lewis sings, a lot. He loves community theater, walks with the pup & husband, terrible tv, and great food with friends. 

ELM Pride Blog Series: By Bishop Brenda Bos

We are Family!
By Bishop Brenda Bos

“We are Family! I got all my sistahs with me!” 

“We Are Family” was and is a beloved Pride anthem and a monster hit, rising up in the middle of my teenage years. Yes, children, I am THAT old. The age of disco may not have had cell phones, but we did have running water and cars, and on a Saturday night I might have taken a hot shower and gotten into my Ford Capri and gone dancing with my friends, many of whom, surprise, surprise, were gay men. 

This was the age of cocaine, which I did not use; I wasn’t even a drinker, but hyped up on Diet Coke and friendship, I danced and sang this anthem at the top of my lungs. 

“All the people around us they say 
‘Can they be that close?’
Just let me state for the record
We’ve giving love in a family dose.”

Yes, siblings in Christ, my fabulous rainbow clan, we are family. You may not know “She’s family” used to be code for “She’s queer too.” It came right after the lousy euphemism “My uncle has a friend” and before my least favorite, when we referred to partners as “lovers.” I mean, the term “lover” is a positive one, but always felt a little more illicit than I preferred. 

“No we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family jewel.”

OK, so this is a great gay anthem, always brings down the house. But WOW doesn’t have a compelling theological call? We are always trying to preach and teach we are the family of God, beloved children of our Heavenly Parent, Jesus is a brother and friend…. But most of us have experienced the true pain of not being family – either literally among our flesh and blood, or figuratively as we are not welcome in congregations, schools, peer groups, etc. To be honest, I never understand how people in the Lutheran church, steeped in the confessions of grace, can ever say I am not welcome among them. Am I not a beloved child of God? Are we not joined together as the Body of Christ? In Christ Jesus are we not all one? 

“We are family
Get up everybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family”

So the LGBTQ community embraced this song for all the right reasons (and the fact its always fun to say “Sister Sledge”!) and I pray someday the church will embrace this song fully too. Sing it loud and proud, beloveds: Because of God’s grace in your life, because of the power of the Holy Spirit:

“Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family jewel.” 
Adopted by God, beloved by our Creator. You are the jewel. You are the prize. You are family. 

Brenda Bos (she/her) is the first openly lesbian bishop elected in the ELCA. She serves the Southwest California Synod, whose territory sits on the homeland of eleven indigenous peoples and includes the Hollywood sign, “The Valley”, coastal cities, farmland and urban deserts. She and her wife Janis spend their free time hiking with their dogs and making their house more fun for their young granddaughter. 

ELM Pride Blog! By Kelsey Brown

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.

ELM Pride Series Blog: Kyle Hanson

Feeling Mighty REAL!
By Kyle Hanson

Coming out in the 1980’s in South Dakota was not an easy task. I vividly remember sneaking over to the one gay bar in town, parking my car blocks away, and going through the double security doors that revealed what seemed like Oz at the time.

I remember fondly the joy of dancing and the freedom that came with the beats of music. It felt safe, it felt like I had found my people, and we danced for hours on end. One song in particular stands out to me, the Jimmy Sommerville version of an old Sylvester song “You make me feel (Mighty Real)”.

The lyrics sing out “You make me feel mighty real” and at the end of the song it repeats “I feel real, I feel real, I feel real.”  And I did feel real, for the first time in my life.

As I have grown older, I am discovering that I miss the freedom of dancing, the ability to let it all go and be part of a rhythm that is communal, larger than us.

This week the Human Rights Campaign issued a State of Emergency for the LGBTQIA2S+ Community. Alongside the warning they issued a guidebook to help people navigate the laws and dangers as people live and travel within the United States. My fear is that these places of safety are disappearing and people’s ability to be REAL, to be fully themselves is under attack and in many places being real is dangerous.

My faith calls us to action for those around us who are in real danger, who just for being authentically themselves, created in God’s image, are literally and figuratively under attack. I am proud to live in Minnesota, a state that has taken a stand to become a refuge for people seeking gender affirming care. 

As we enter Pride month and our celebrations and our dancing, let us not forget that our freedom to be real is not guaranteed. Feeling mighty real, and loved by our creator, is not something that everyone experiences. I know first hand what it feels like to not be able to be your authentic self, to feel judged by the church, and to have to hide who you are. I also know the great joy in discovering that we are loved as we are, that we are celebrated unconditionally, and that in turn we can turn that love and acceptance outward to the world. The end of Sylvesters Song whips into a bit of a frenzy, and I remember spinning and singing and dancing- Make me feel – mighty real, You make me feel mighty real, I feel Real- I feel real- I feel Real. My prayers today are that YOU feel real, and that you can know the joy of fully accepting yourself for who you are. 

Happy Pride!

Pastor Kyle Hanson (He/Him/His) was ordained in 2020 and is currently serving St James Lutheran Church in Crystal as an associate Pastor. Kyle is also the Executive Director of Agate Housing and Services, an organization that shelters, feeds and supports people experiencing homelessness. https://agatemn.org

Kyle and his husband John are celebrating 20 years together this summer and live in Minneapolis with their children Jace and Henry.

ELM Pride Series Blog: by Mo Goff

I’m Coming Out – A Psalm by Diana Ross
By Mo Goff

I. Love. Disco! The Bee Gees, Earth Wind and Fire, Rick James, Donna Summer, Sister Sledge, and of course, The Village People… I loved all of it, especially back in the day! Disco music transported me—this nerdy, toe-headed, closeted, awkward teenage queer in a small town in the rural South—away to a fantastical place that only disco could… to a place where I could be me. And no artist did it better than the incomparable Diana Ross with her anthem: I’m Coming Out! The lyrics took on a psalmic quality for me.

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show

There’s a new me coming out
And I just have to live
And I want to give
I’m completely positive
I think this time around
I am gonna do it
Like you never knew it
Oh, I’ll make it through

It was released at a liminal time for the queer community. By 1980, the queer community had claimed important moments in our civil rights movement—first Pride celebrations, Stonewall Riots, ReconcilingWorks predecessor founded—and suffered terrible backlashes—Harvey Milk’s assassination and Anita Bryant… the AIDS genocide was just around the corner. And, in 1980, in this time and in this place where I existed, it was still painful to be gay, and it was not safe to be queer. But I had Diana Ross who gave me space, who transfigured me, who let me dream of an embodied inconceivable reality…

The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I am coming out

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show

And, that is what I remember most about that period in my life. The hope that someday I could come out and that it would be amazing. In truth, it was not for another twenty plus years that I did come out, and it was amazing… and it was awful. That’s how it often can be for folx in our queer community. We achieve significant moments of affirmation followed by moments of cruel setbacks, but we persevere because we have to!

I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show (I’m coming
I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show

I’ve got to show the world
All that I want to be
And all my abilities
There’s so much more to me
Somehow, I’ll have to make them
Just understand
I got it well in hand
And, oh, how I’ve planned
I’m spreadin’ love
There is no need to fear
And I just feel so good
Every time I hear

And now, again, beloveds, the queer community is under threat. We are being circled by that loud, ravenous lion. From coast to coast and in faraway places, man-made works are underway to wipe away what God has made, to erase us, Imago Dei! All this because we audaciously exist, coming out loving who we do, and being who we are, even though some go to extremes to stop us from our Pride…

I’m coming out
I want the world to know
I got to let it show
I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show (I’m coming)
I’m coming out (coming)
I want the world to know (out)
Got to let it show
I’m coming out
I want the world to know
Got to let it show

It’s June y’all! Pride is upon us! Now is the time to celebrate who we are and to be transported to that wonderful promise again! With the Holy Spirit leading the way, with Christ within us, and with our Creator by our side, we will trust and do the work. We will persist because God is with us, and so we will persevere!

I’m, I’m coming out
I have to shout that I’m comin’ out
I want the world to know, I gotta let it show
I’m coming, I’m coming out


Mo Goff (he/him) just completed his second year as an MDiv student at United Lutheran Seminary and is an endorsed candidate pursuing ordination in Word and Sacrament under the care of the Delaware-Maryland Synod. Before seminary, he worked in politics and public policy in Washington, DC. He and his husband, Rev. Shawn Brandon, reside outside of Annapolis, MD, with their dog, Lola, and cat, Eve.

ELM Pride Blog: by Melissa Hrdlicka

And let the Church say Amen!
By Melissa Hrdlicka

When I enter a room, especially with my collar on, people tend to notice me. I am almost 6 feet tall, I have red hair, I’m plus-sized, and I have a fairly loud voice and laugh. I take up space, and this used to be something that made me shrink. As a kid I would hunch over so I didn’t tower over as many people and say my hair is brown and I wouldn’t speak unless spoken to. 
I loathed the largeness of my body and the loudness of my voice almost all of the time except when I was at a concert. At a concert I can see over everyone’s heads, I can sing as loud as I want knowing no one will hear me, and I can join in the collective dance knowing somehow I belong here. In a crowd with music pumping, I didn’t care how much space I was taking up. I was just there in the moment embracing all of me. As Sabrina Benaim said in her poem First Date, “I like my body best when I am not worried about how much space it is taking up, I mean dancing!”   
As a new pastor, I am still learning how to take up this space, how to let my name come second to my role and yet not be fully consumed by this beautiful, challenging, and important work. 
I am learning how to do this through a group of fellow queer pastors who meet weekly for text study over Zoom. Our jobs are often heavy so to lighten the space we start with songs either relating to the text or how we were feeling that day and we all dance in our little zoom squares like a silent disco. 
When someone offered “Amen” by Todrick Hall, I danced around my home office and suddenly everything came back together for me. I no longer worried about how much space I was taking up, I was just dancing. 
Even states apart, I felt safe in this sacred space we shared. This song was a call to worship for all of us queer preachers doing our best in ministry that doesn’t always love us, and doesn’t always allow us space to flourish. But in this moment of dancing in our own little boxes, we were free. 
The song beckons us in the same way I think Jesus would have, “come to the altar, you don’t have to be altered…come and rejoice here, come raise your voice here, love ain’t a choice here.” In Jesus there is no expectation, just an invitation to be in relationship with him and with each other just as we are. 
In the sacred space of music, queer community, and dancing, I find freedom, joy, and Jesus all over again. 
“And let the church say, Amen!”  

Melissa Hrdlicka (she/her/hers) is dancing her way through a year long term call at Grace Lutheran Church in Ripon, WI while the called pastor is deployed as a military chaplain. She finds joy in her cat Frankincense, frolicking through the forests, and making a splash in lakes, rivers, and Baptismal fonts!

ELM Pride Blog: Backstreet’s Back by Alex Aivars

When I was in high school in the late 90s, I was a huge boy band fan. But, I kept this love of boy bands to myself.
Whenever the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, 98 Degrees, LFO, or O-Town came on the radio, I felt my little gay heart bursting from my chest. I kept it cool on the outside though. Nevertheless, the music touched my soul in a way that no music ever had before then. 
I was team Backstreet Boys all the way (Nick Carter was just the cutest). I envied the girls who put up posters in their bedrooms of the boy bands they liked.
The Backstreet Boys song “I Want it That Way” was (and still is) one of my favorite songs. “I Want it That Way” spoke to my desire to love my way, to love another man. With the lyrics, “You are my fire / the one desire” my heart was aflame. I imagined saying that to a crush. The lyrics, “But we are two worlds apart / Can’t reach to your heart” spoke to being in the closet. All I could do was quietly pine after a crush – there was no way for me to reach out to them. “Tell me why / Ain’t nothin’ but a heartache” spoke to the heartache I felt at the time.
But there were other songs by the Backstreet Boys that just made me feel good. “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” and “Larger than Life,” made me feel like everything was going to be OK. Those songs made me forget any troubles and worries going on in my life. I could step into the Backstreet Boys world and have fun.
When I would later come out in the mid to late 2000s, I would buy all of the Backstreet Boys CDs (as well as all of the other boy bands I had liked). I no longer had to listen to them by myself with the door shut. 
It wouldn’t be until the mid-2010’s, while in seminary, that I would finally see the Backstreet Boys perform live in person. 
Well, sort of.
After my first year of seminary I was looking through the Chicago Market Days schedule (kind of a mini Pride held in August) and one group stood out: Boy Band Review. I Googled them and learned that they covered all of the 90s and early 2000s boy band songs – all of the songs I loved as a closeted high schooler. 
I knew I had to go.
The Boy Band Review did not disappoint. At their show, I was able to dance and sing and jump up and down to my heart’s content. 
That scared little high schooler was finally able to fully be himself and openly love this music, surrounded by other people with a similar love. 

Alex Aivars (he/him) is in his second call as pastor of Christ United in Dewitt, MI. Since this is a part-time call, he also develops websites for businesses, non-profits, and churches. In his spare time, he likes to dance, be outdoors, travel, and read.

ELM Pride Blog Series: ELM Board Co-Chair Mycah McNett

Who Carries You Through?
By Mycah McNett

I have an entire playlist of music that brings my queer self-abundant life! I started developing the latest iteration of this playlist during a unit of summer CPE. It was my driving music that helped put me in the spiritual care mood, and spiritually cared for me when I was on my way home.
Often, the first song I would hit play on was “If You Got a Problem” by Joy Oladokun. I needed the reminder from the chorus: 
If you got a problem
I got a problem too
If you’re standin’ at the bottom
I’ll reach out for you
If you need someone to lean on
Baby, I can be strong
I will carry you through
If you got a problem
I got a problem too.
I imagine, at times, that this is Jesus singing through Joy Oladokun to the rest of us that if we got a problem, so does Jesus. Of the many, incredible things God has given us in this life, one of them is the gift that is Jesus Christ embodied in our community. That we can turn to each other and to Christ to lean on each other.
One of the biggest, joyfully queer parts of myself is how meaningful community support is in my life. I have learned so much about how important mutuality is in my relationships, personal and ministerial. Writers like bell hooks and Adrienne Maree Brown have formed my understanding that I won’t get very far in this life and call without you coming along with me, and the way we get there is radical love for each other. Love is an action word, and I love seeing us in action from a place of radical love.
For me, that love is incarnate in Jesus who came to build a joyfully, beloved, abundantly queer community starting with the disciples and Jesus’ early followers. We have the ability to reach out for each other, to cling to one another, because we got to know God in Jesus. Because Jesus knew what it was to be standin’ at the bottom, and the importance of carrying each other through. 
I would not have survived seminary, candidacy, internship, or any ministry without the support of my Proclaim community, without the ways we carry each other through following Jesus, carrying out God’s ministry in the world. I thank for each member of Proclaim and the wider community of support that carries us through.

Mycah McNett (she/her) is a candidate for Word and Sacrament in the ELCA, and has just started searching for a First Call. Mycah has been active in Proclaim, representing the program on United Lutheran Seminary’s campus, and is currently the co-chair of the Board of Directors for Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries. Mycah lives on Lenni Lenape land, also known as the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area with her spouse and three cats, Minnie, Clio, and Clem.

ELM Earth Day Blog: by Alex Linn

A melancholy Eastertide love letter to camp on the cusp of the summer season

It is my queer agenda to remind people of the world’s beautiful cycle– or maybe that’s just my agenda, who’s to say. 

            I grew up in the American South, North Carolina, a storied land woven into the fabric of history and its people; there’s plenty to say about the checkered saga I was born into, and the garbage that comes along with it, but I did at the very least get a blessing from the place I grew up. A blessing from the years spent at camp out in the woods. 
The Creator loves wholly.  
Even before I loved myself or feigned belief that another person could love a queer me, the substance of the world outside the door would offer up little glimpses of divinity. Moments that screamed the Imago Dei before I even knew that phrase. 
I know you just got the crap kicked out of you in school, but did you see this pattern in this new leaf unfurling? Check out this beetle…
Oh, it happened again… did you notice the resplendent yellow this oak has turned? I’m sorry my dear…
You really weren’t meant for P.E. class were you… have you seen the hawk circling the field? Best not to look at your friend in his gym shorts. 
You seem sad, have you noticed how I’m sad too?
Did you notice that I, too, am dying every day?
Did you notice that we are resurrected with the dawn?
It was in the bosom of the woods where queerness was explored. Where I was always myself with everything I was and could be and everything that hurt and wanted to reject. Conversations with close friends, lovers, and all the things that get lifted up as prayers of laughter in the squeals of kids playing games, broken hearts, and views from dirty windows. These were and are souvenirs from moments long gone and seasons spent in the woods. Beloved, these souvenirs fade with time, but they are not lost because the Resurrected Christ says nothing is truly lost. Yes, die and can decompose, but the star stuff that carries your souvenirs has never been lost since the beginning. 
I can’t quite place the exact memories anymore, and I’m not sure how they slipped, but I carry the embedded feelings gifted by the cycle­– the smell of the first Spring rain, the stark silence of snowfall, the oppressive humidity of July. It’s a kind of creation cycle we honor in our liturgical calendar. One that reminds us in the depths of winter that the light has come into the world, one that reminds us of our dust-to-dust-ness even when Spring is about to get going.
            I think “queer-God talk” and an “eco-God talk” are kind of one in the same. To be queer is, for me, to hold such vast complexity in your being. To think eco-theologically– or whatever– is to bear witness to the vast complexity of another being. That vast complexity both in and out is God’s creation, it’s the image you’re made in. “Let us make them in our image!” A singular yet plural bang of creation that got called good and was loved even when it isn’t at its best.

Alex Winfield Linn, “Winnie” (he/him/his) is a nearly approved candidate for ordination in Word and Sacrament with the Metropolitan Chicago Synod. He is a former camp program director and currently the vicar-in-residence while on his internship year at Luther Memorial Church, and Lutheran Campus Ministries in Madison, WI. When doing ‘Jesus stuff’ isn’t in his purview he enjoys playing games of all varieties, being a lil’ bit cranky, loving his rescue Dalmatian puppy, and inventing creative swear words. 

ELM Earth Day Blog by Michael Dickson

Learning to Love the Crucified Body: Your’s, Earth’s, and Zombie Jesus


It was Earth Day 2022, and I was walking through Central Park in NYC, trying to find a quiet place to play in the dirt. 

Weird idea, I know, but I wanted to put my hand in soil and love the Earth for a second. Earth Day is about loving the earth, right? And love is a feeling/action before it’s a concept, right? Right. So let’s get my hand in some dirt. 

The problem: I was embarrassed. Far more awkward than I expected. So like, I just walk up to the earth, and in full view of thousands of people, put my hands on it and try to love it?   

I really didn’t want to be loving the earth – like, you know – *in public*

So there I was in Central Park, wandering through historic, secluded old gay hookup groves, shamefully looking for a place to sit and love creation.

Awkward and ashamed, I meander through the woods; a patch of woods haunted quite literally for over a hundred years by queer bodies seeking quietly in the dark for a safe space to love another body. 

I promise this is a 100% true story, although tbh I clocked no more than 10% of the irony at the time. I can’t always tell where the shame is coming from right in the moment, y’know?  

For me, and I imagine for many others, the queer journey has been about finding my way out of shame and learning to love bodies

Our relationships with our bodies (and our collective body) are fraught, to say the least. These bodies we are told are wrong, evil, and predatory because of what we do and what we feel with them. Bodies that sometimes even feel wrong, born at odds with ourselves, known one way by us and known another way by the world. The world is so sure it knows us that it doesn’t believe in our ability to know ourselves!

The world refuses to know, to even believe in the life of queer, trans, Black, and brown bodies, even as they are surrounded by those crucified bodies.

They insist in their disbelief, even as the crucified body itself strolls through locked doors into their glorified closet of an echo chamber, eager with good news to share of a different way

And what about our disbelief? What about the 200 crucified species going extinct every day? Do we believe in the life of those bodies, or do we also doubt? 

And for every crucified bird, fish, ape, wolf, raccoon, insect, otter, tiger and other species that will be extinct by 2050 — their crucified Zombie-Jesus bodies haunt our zoos. They are ghosts in captivity, unstuck in time from some Easter future, taunting us with good news of a different way things could be if only we loved this body  

If only we loved this body. 

Bodies are complicated – yes. Difficult? Hard agree. Remember that Zombie, Fish-Eating Jesus is a gory crucified body, probably oozing multiple somethings. But at the same time, it is a resurrected body. A body in motion. A holy body that carries death but also carries life. 

The holy body breaks into our world past locked doors and says “I have good news for you.” Then they guide our hand to the open wound in their side. 

“Behold!” They say. “This is your body.” 

Behold the crucified and resurrected body — this queer little blue zombie fish-eating planet — and love it. 

God invites us to love our flesh and the world around us as the beloved, growing, constantly changing bodies they are. Resurrected life in motion, oozing and flowing, constantly shaped and reshaped by ourselves and the bodies around us in a million ways both beautiful and brutal. 

We are crucified and resurrected, fixed and fluid, extinct and resurgent. We are queer, trans, black and brown bodies like mushrooms in soil: We can be crushed underfoot, but we won’t stop growing, and by morning we shall inherit the earth.  

This is your body. 

Let us lay our gentle hands on that body of earth and learn to love it – openly, without shame or fear. 

The Reverend Seminarian (lol) Michael Dickson(he/him/they/them) is an approved candidate for word and sacrament ministry awaiting call in the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA. Maichel completed an internship at St. Peter’s Church in Manhattan, and now directs social justice and advocacy ministries for the NC Synod and probably other stuff too. Makl likes books and outside and videogames and people and feelings and rewatching Adventure Time.