By Jimmie Hawkins
So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to make preparations for it?” “Listen,” he said to them, “when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters…
In the gospel of Luke, Jesus, in making preparations for the Passover meal, tells two of his disciples to go into the city of Jerusalem to prepare the meal. They want to know where and are guided by the description of a man carrying a jar of water. In our contemporary mind, this is not an unusual description and could match almost any man. But not so in the days so the Lord, for carrying water was a woman’s job and a stigma for a man.
There are still stigmas today. When people act in ways contrary to society’s standard, gendered expectations of them, when people challenge the norms of accepted protocol, they draw sideward glances and judgmental thoughts. Transgender persons find themselves in a time when more and more they are establishing and building communities that are open and accepting. Yet also, we live in a time when violence and rejection are still far too prevalent.
But like Jesus, we must not only allow, but encourage and support people in their quest to be truthful to the person God created them to be. If there ever was a time when Jesus could have made a condemning statement about sexuality or gender, it is presented in this passage from Luke. Rather than judgement, the Lord said, “follow him into the house he enters…”Jesus is willing to enter any home where he is welcome. Jesus is eager to engage, love and serve with those people whom society rejects. Therefore, we too, as the church, must affirm transgender persons in their quest for wholeness and loving acceptance.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) finds itself in the providential position to embrace and welcome those whose identify as transgender. It is our mandate as a part of the body of Christ universal to love one another, as we are all created equally in the eyes of God. To anyone who feels trapped within the confines of a body which feels alien and distant, we offer our love, prayers, words and actions of affirmation and support.
The 223rd General Assembly overwhelmingly passed two overtures to this position. Overture 11-12 says: “Standing in the conviction that all people are created in the image of God and that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people, the 223rd General Assembly (2018) affirms its commitment to the full welcome, acceptance, and inclusion of transgender people, people who identify as gender non-binary, and people of all gender identities within the full life of the church and the world. The assembly affirms the full dignity and the full humanity of transgender people, their full inclusion in all human rights, and their giftedness for service. The assembly affirms the church’s obligation to stand for the right of people of all gender identities to live free from discrimination, violence, and every form of injustice.”
Overture 11-13 says: “Celebrating the expansive embrace of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the breadth of our mission to serve a world in need, the 223rdGeneral Assembly (2018) affirms the gifts of LGBTQIA+ people for ministry and celebrates their service in the church and in the world.”
This Advent season let us hold dear the revelation, “Unto us a child is given, unto us a child is born, who is Christ the Lord.” As our hearts are touched by the awareness that God sent God’s only begotten son in the person of a vulnerable, innocent, dependent infant, let our hearts also be moved by the same vulnerability that so many in the transgender community experience on a daily basis. May our gift as a church, and as Christians, be the gift of agape love which, when it is freely and unconditionally given, grants so much in return.