Thursday, June 7, 2007

Goodsoil Devotion

Packing for Churchwide
(For Chicago or from your home)

Rev. Megan Rohrer

    Nakedness is the essence of unity, of not being torn apart, of being for the other, of respect for what is given, of acknowledging the rights of the other as my limit and as a creature. Nakedness is the essence of being oblivious of the possibility of robbing others of their rights. Nakedness is the revelation; nakedness believes in grace. Nakedness does not know it is naked just as the eye does not see itself or know about itself. Nakedness is innocence. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Creation and Fall.

Since the fall, many of us have a hard time with our nakedness. Even those of us who are comfortable with our bodies are unlikely to participate in Churchwide naked (except for the few of you who are reading this naked in your homes over the internet). It would be a blessing if we could all bear the fullness of our bodies and be fully present at Churchwide, in our Christian communities, in our churches and in all our relationships.

But whether you are participating at home or in Chicago, I imagine that you will have to decide what to wear and how to present yourself; I encourage you to pack. Unlike the more commonly used term “passing” which tends to be viewed pejoratively by non-queer folk as a way to hide the truth or trick people (i.e. passing as straight or the opposite sex), “packing” is a way to help us reveal our true selves. Packing is a literal filling in of the gaps so that others can see the truth that is felt by an individual person packing. Rather than tricking or providing an illusion, packing seeks to be fully present.

People pack for many reasons, but in this devotion I want to lift up the way that packing can people physically and authentically be present to/for each other. As a trans person I sometimes pack or pad my body so that other people can see the sex I feel. Similarly, I know a woman who packs/pads her body so that she can reveal the womanhood that was left scarred and changed after a double mastectomy to fight breast cancer. Maybe you too have some part of your body that does not feel like it looks, that prevents you from being fully present from others or prevents others from being fully present with you. God(dess) has accepts us as we are, but we sometimes have trouble doing the same for our bodies or for the bodies of our neighbor.

As a pastor, I encourage us all to pack for Churchwide. And by this I mean, using the fullness of our bodies (whether physically in Chicago or not) to reveal our authentic selves to others. I believe that if we all pack for Churchwide, that our very bodies as well as our hearts, our actions and our minds, will proclaim that ALL of us no matter our size, shape, ability, age, skin tone, and/or genitals are beautiful children of God(dess) who were named and claimed in the waters of baptism, into the priesthood of ALL believers and declared good.

However, because the mark of our baptism and the sign of our priesthood is invisible on our foreheads, we need to pack a visible symbol of God(dess)’s call to ALL of us. So here is my suggestion of what to wear to/during Churchwide:

    Christ should be our clothing (Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:26-27; James 2:16): In the shame of our falleness and in our inability to be fully naked, we are encouraged to have Christ as our clothing to connect us to others, to connect us to God(dess) and to allow us to be free for and from our neighbors.
    Wear the armor of God(dess): Ephesians 6:11-20 encourages us to put on the armor of God by packing our loins with truth, covering our breast/chest with righteousness, rooting our feet in the living Gospel, shielding bodies with our faith and letting the Spirit speak through our tongues.
    Wear a rainbow: The rainbow is God(dess)’s sign of love for ALL people and a sign of queer pride. Wear a scarf, pin or other flourish of rainbow color to let people see a visible symbol of God’s love for all.
    Or, something that is meaningful to you and proclaims God(dess)’s call to you and to ALL people.

Pr. Megan is the Director of the Welcome Minsitry, a non-profit that works with the homeless and hungry in San Francisco, Ca. Pr. Megan is a member of the ECP Roster and was ordained extraordinarily on November 18, 2006 with a joint call from: Christ Church, Her Church (Ebenezer), St. Francis and Sts. Mary and Martha Lutheran Churches to minister to the poor of San Francisco. Megan attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD and received her master of Divinity from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.