Preached at South Congregational Church, Feb 21 2018
We know that as Christians, we are called to work for Justice. As the Prophet Amos says, “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” And we know that requires action on our part – Justice has never been an accident of fate. The moral arc of the Universe only bends towards justice if we work really hard to make that happen.
Jesus worked for Justice on multiple levels. He did a lot of direct service- handing out fish and bread, the miracle stories, the in-person spiritual care with the people around him. A lot of the beautiful stories we tell about Jesus involve him addressing the pain and suffering around him.
And he also recognized that injustice went beyond the individual. He was livid with the religious leaders who held themselves above the rest of society, who claimed to be “holy”, and yet worked with the Romans who were oppressing and killing their people. In the book of Matthew he says “They taught the law but did not practice some of the most important parts of the law — justice, mercy, faithfulness to God”. “They were full of wickedness. They were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones”
The head of our Church – Jesus Christ – is an incredibly political person.
We are a people called to work for justice, and we are gathered together because we are attempting to follow in his footsteps in community. And I think we, as the church, have some wrestling to do with political Jesus.
Which brings me to me – I’m a transgender person- which means that the gender I was assigned at birth is not the gender I identify as. I am holy, and created by God, and my body is sacred, as is yours. This week, the Trump administration said that they are going to stand behind medical personnel who choose not to give me medical care because to some people, providing medical care to me – saving my life – goes against their religion.
This denial of care happens already. I have trans friends who almost died because Emergency Room doctors refused to care for them. 20% of trans people already report being denied health care from doctors. This discrimination already kills people like me. With this announcement, those numbers are going to rise, and more of my trans family are going to die.
Remember this line? “They were like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but full of dead men’s bones” Jesus’s most scathing rebuke was reserved for the people who claimed to be religious, but who joined together in opposition of Him.
The people who are loud about their faith while working together in opposition of Jesus- the pharisees and scribes of our day – are in positions of great political power, claiming that killing me would be an act of deep Christian faith.
In the press release about this, the Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the Health and Human Services Department said: “NO ONE SHOULD BE FORCED TO CHOOSE BETWEEN HELPING SICK PEOPLE AND LIVING BY ONE’S DEEPEST MORAL OR RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS”. That’s not Christianity. That’s murder, dressed up as God, and they have the NO RIGHT to claim the label of our faith.
So. As a people called to work for justice, what does this mean for us? What does it mean to be faithfully Christian when people who claim to have my faith are trying to kill me? What would Jesus do?
Our collective survival depends on one another. This week, viscerally, I am aware that my survival depends on you. Fight with me. I am fighting for my life. My survival is very political. Call your senators. Talk to other people about how dangerous this is for me. Understand that the politics of trans rights intersect with everything else, including racism. Make sure your children understand what it means to be trans, and that it is okay. Make sure the schools your children go to are safe and accepting for trans children. Talk about bathrooms with people uncomfortable talking about bathrooms. Call your senators again. Donate to the National Center for Trans Equality. Tell the trans people in your life that you know this is hell for them, and that you love them. Ask the trans people you know if they can afford health insurance, or rent, or food, and if you can help them with that. If you don’t know any trans people struggling to survive, donate to translifeline.org, because we have one suicide hotline that knows what we’re going through, and it can’t pay enough operators to meet the call demand.
Because that is what Jesus would do. We know that we are Christians called to bring Justice to this world. Let’s go follow in the way of Jesus.