Death and Life

Dear People of Grace-

This is a heavy letter:

I’ve been thinking lately about how prejudice and acceptance are literally matters of life and death for real people- maybe you have been too, with the recent suicides of young people attacked with anti-gay bullying, and recent hate-crimes in New York City and elsewhere. We need to remember that although many of these hate crimes were about sexual orientation and gender identity, at least one was about anti-Muslim bias.

And every month, if not every week, someone comes to our church, seeking a word to lead them out of the despair that hatred has them trapped in. As hard as these conversations are, I wish you could know about each of them. Because your existence as a congregation is literally a matter of life and death to people in this neighborhood, in Houston, who need to know the Good News about God’s love.

I’ve also been thinking about violence and hatred because coming up this month is the Day of Remembrance for those who have been murdered throughout the year for their gender identity, or by anti-trans prejudice.

You remember, perhaps, that a member of Houston’s own transgender community, Myra Ical, was killed this year, and that I attended her wake, making year the Day of Remembrance is especially personal.

We are also remembering, this year, Roy Antonio Jones III, who was beaten to death by an older family member who said he was trying to “make him act like a boy, and not a little girl.” Roy was 16 months old.

I want to personally invite you to attend Houston’s Day of Remembrance service, at 7pm on November 20th, at the Bruce Religion Center on the University of Houston campus. As people of faith, we don’t turn away from injustice, pain, or despair in the world.

Just today, I’ve quoted this Scripture from Romans to two different people who needed to hear it: “For I am convinced that neither death nor live, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Nothing. Nothing separates us from God’s love.

And so I want to end this heavy letter with some lightness: we have this treasure to tell. We have words of life to speak. Literally, words of life. You and I give life to the world all the time. We speak the truth about who we are, and give hope. We share the wonders of our lives, and preach joy. We celebrate our loves, and break down walls of prejudice. Most of all, we witness to the One who Loves, all of us, unconditionally. And people full of Grace, that matters. We have words of Life for the world.

-Pastor Lura

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