I’m disappointed Casa Q couldn’t be here… <Casa Q was going to present at COGS – their plans changed earlier this week>
I’m still going to speak about them today.
But first, let’s talk about James….
The book of James is all about how we can live into our faith.
And chapter 2, this text in particular,
talks about the connection between faith and action.
James says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
People are REDEEMED by works and not just faith alone.
Another translation would say people are SAVED by works and not just faith alone.
And Catholics and Protestants have debated for generations whether faith or works are more important
in the big people of redemption and salvation.
But to me, it’s obvious that faith and works go hand in hand.
In fact, modern theologians, including the Pope, would agree.
The question that intrigues me MORE is what do we need to be redeemed FROM?
What have we done that leads us to need redemption?
I don’t want to call you out for public confession, so let me make this easier.
What has someone ELSE done that you think leads them to a place where they need redemption?
(examples from the congregation – sin, apathy, indifference, nothing)
Okay. Now none of you said original sin…
But we’re not going to go there today…
None of you said people need redeeming form their political affiliation.
You were thinking it….
Don’t you think that some people need redeeming from their choices of who to vote for?
Or who they already voted for?
Of course we think that. But that’s not of God.
That’s from our egos.
None of you said other things either.
Like that we need to be redeemed from our gender.
Other people have said that.
How many times have you heard that someone “throws like a girl?”
Well, being a girl is obviously worse then, right?
Of course not.
The Bible says there is neither Greek nor Jew slave nor free male nor female. All are one in Christ Jesus.
But society says there’s a hierarchy.
The same could be said for sexuality.
Thank God no one said anything about people needing to be redeemed from their sexual orientation.
That’s not of God either.
That impulse comes from cultural indoctrination and fear and a misreading of scripture.
Not from God.
And yet we can’t ignore that people still preach that message.
And that it has an impact on our children.
That’s where organizations like Casa Q come in.
That’s where WE come in.
With both faith AND works.
Casa Q is an organization that we work with that provides safe living options and services for LGBTQ youth and allies who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
They also provide things like transportation to school and work, life skills classes, and counseling.
They also help educate these children’s parents, in many cases, reuniting newly-educated parents with their children.
They do the work of healing, growth, and reconciliation, all while providing a safe place for these teenagers to live and learn.
There are approximately 4000 teens and children experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque.
Services for families meet a lot of the needs for homeless children and teens, but not if those children and teens are kicked out by their parents.
A disproportionate number of homeless youth are LGBTQ, usually because their families have rejected them and kicked them out.
About 1/3 of homeless children and youth in Albuquerque are LGBTQ.
It’s estimated that there are between 700 and 1000 homeless youth in Albuquerque who do not have a safe place to go, because of their gender identity or sexual orientation.
Right now, Casa Q can only host 8 of those kids at a time.
But it’s a start.
And every one of those kids has a plan,
put together with the directors of Casa Q,
on how they’re going to find work, find housing, and find stability.
Most kids at Casa Q are not there all the way to graduation. Some find housing with high school friends.
Others get emancipated and find safe housing with other young adults.
Others get reunited with their families after Casa Q does extensive work educating the families and helping them create a safer home environment for these kids.
Our role has been to bring food.
And we need more help with that effort.
People who are willing to shop once every month, and people willing to chip in for groceries.
Food flies out of that kitchen. These are teenagers, remember.
And the food matters.
But its’ not just our actions that have an impact.
It’s our faith.
Because when we show up representing a church, it does additional healing work for these kids.
Whenever I go by there, and Jenny can back me up on this, the kids there are always surprised that the people helping them most are churches.
It’s a surprise to them that Christians are helping them.
It is a surprise to see Christians helping people who are on the margins, young people who have been kicked out of their homes for who they are.
That shouldn’t be a surprise!
Jesus healed people that society labeled “unclean.” Jesus crossed gender norms and spoke to women.
Early Christians like Paul said there is neither male nor female slave nor free Greek nor Jew, all are one in Christ Jesus.
And James, in his letter to other Christians said that faith, without works is dead.
We need both.
We need the good deeds.
But we also need to be a louder voice for Christian faith.
We need to tell people who love us,
people who know us as thoughtful, critical thinkers.
People who know that we feed the hungry and care for the homeless and advocate for LGBTQ rights.
We need to tell people who know THAT about us that WE are Christians.
Or that we attend a church.
Some of us are NOT Christians. We have different self-identifications. Agnostic or atheist. But we’re here.
Doing the work of creating a just world, one life at a time.
It’s important that we let people know that THIS is what churches do.
There is no shame in being a Christian.
The shame we experiences comes from the actions of our brothers and sisters who call themselves Christian but who are actually possessed with the demons of bigotry.
But bigotry is not of Christ.
There is no shame in being a Christian…
Repeat after me: “There is no shame in being a Christian!”
If we are silent about our faith and our church, it is those demons our children will hear…
The message of God’s love saves lives. We cannot be silent.
So my challenge to us is two fold this week.
1 – to consider giving to Casa Q ($ or shopping)
2 – Be bold – tell someone in our lives, someone we’re not out to yet, that we are a Christian. Or that we attend a church!
And let them know what this place is up to. Let that narrative circulate.
The person you tell may not need to hear it, but they may have a relative or a friend that’s LGBTQ who’s never heard of a church where they could be welcome.
They may have a friend or a relative that wants to put their faith into action but has never heard of a church that actually puts its faith into action.
The message of God saves lives. May we be bold in our words and bold in our actions, that God might multiply both for the building of God’s reign on earth.