Preached at Lambda Christian Community Church in Edmonton
Your employer asks you to run over Staples and purchase a box of paper clips. You do things right, so you order one of everything Staples sells to be delivered to your office. What would your employer say? When you go shopping, you only buy what you need. That is the same way in church. You buy what you need. My hope is that you will take home what your heart needs today and accommodate that with your beliefs and world view.
You might be familiar with the TV program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Five gay guys teach a straight man how to dress, decorate his home and be a little more refined. Those who are perhaps a tad irreverent might describe the creation story as Queer Eye for the Straight World.
For around 150 years, there has been a lot of debate about Genesis Chapter 1. Some people feel the creation story is historical and scientific. Other fine Christians disagree, finding deeper meanings than historical or scientific facts. I will not step into the debate, because the way you view this text is not a test of faith and does not measure your walk with God.
As we read the story, we notice when the Eternal creates, the text reads, “God said.” The word said separates God from what the Eternal created. Said is a divider between God and creation.  This shows us that the world is not our god. We worship the creator, not the creation. We can appreciate and care for the world, without worshiping the world. And as we do not worship what God created, we do not worship the creation of our hands or the creation of the hands of other people.
Reading from the Moffatt translation. Genesis 2:4 and 1:1 (Moffatt Bible) This is the story of how the universe was formed. When God began to form the universe, the world was void and vacant, darkness lay over the abyss; but the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
In the Hebrew, we get the meaning that the earth was without value, worthless.  The world appeared worthless to all but the Queer Eye of God. The Eternal saw value and worth nobody else could see. So the Spirit moved upon the earth and gave the earth a value all could see.
The Hebrew word that is translated void has another meaning that does not come across well in English. A meaning implied in the Hebrew is an “undistinguishable ruin.”  To those who feel their lives are a total ruin, there is special meaning in this text. Out of what looks like ruin and void, God creates. Even in our personal ruins and disappointments, God is reaching out. God’s Spirit is moving in your life to create, to do good things.
When the Spirit moves upon our lives, we discover our worth and value, as God’s children. A value that cannot be erased or established by decree of parliament or by church decrees.
The story of creation is about Queer Eye for the Straight World. The idea that God sees potential in the void of our world is in the creation story. God has not stopped creating from the void. Our Lord is still in the business of creating. God creates every day in the personal voids of our lives.
There is the Queer Eye for the Heart. There are times when the events of our lives leave us feeling our life is void. In the void of our lives and our hearts, the Spirit hovers. Ezekiel 36:26-27 (King James Version) A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes . . .
God is working to give you a new spirit and a new heart. The new spirit and new heart do not harbor self-hate, as self-hate and self-condemnation are not things of God. Slowly the stony heart, the heart of internalized self-hate, of internalized homophobia, of internalized transphobia, of internalized racism and bigotry is being changed. And in its place, the Spirit is hovering to create in you a heart of self-love, of self-appreciation. A heart that respects God by respecting God’s creation, for you are truly God’s creation.
An example of the Spirit hovering in the void of lives to create a new heart might help. M.R. Ritley is one of the authors of a really neat book, Gifted by Otherness: Gay and Lesbian Christians in the Church. [This book is strongly recommended and can be obtained from Amazon.] Ritley tells a cool story about a lady I will call Mah, because I can pronounce Mah.  I will condense and paraphrase the story. Mah was born years ago, in the 14th century. She was handicapped from birth. Her left side was weak. Her left leg was shorter than her right leg and she had limited use of her left arm.
When watching her uncle, she noticed he tucked his left foot under him when he worked at a potter’s wheel. Mah felt she found a place shaped for her. To her, making pottery was her God-given purpose. Mah became a potter, quite happy that she’d found her place in life. Her family’s pottery was like Wal-Mart pottery.
One day when working at her potter’s wheel she saw people performing a whirling dance. This was not an ordinary dance; it was a form of prayer. She wished she could praise God and pray through the whirling dance, but her handicap would not let her praise God through the dance.
Then she realized she was doing the same thing – praising God – when she spun the potter’s wheel. Her pottery gradually started to change, becoming beautiful. People come from all over to purchase her pottery.
She sat, made pottery and sang prayers. People started to come to hear her prayers. In time, Mah became seen as a holy woman. She started to get disciples. In her tradition, students supported the teacher. Her students built a place for her to live. She immediately moved her wheel in and started making pottery. Her students told her she did not need to make pottery, as they would support her. She replied, “The moment I understood who God was, I never needed to make another pot.”
Toward the end of her life, she had a dream. She dreamed she had died and found herself at the entrance to the heavenly. She waited to be judged. In the distance, she saw God running toward her with arms outstretched. Shouting welcomes, God said, “I’ve waited so long for this moment. I’ve been longing to see you, and here you are at last . . . enjoy Paradise.”
Mah objected, citing her mistakes. God interrupted her. The Lord said that Mah had done more than God imagined. Mah could not understand. God knew everything. The Lord replied, “I’ll tell you a secret, Mah, I made the stars and the planets to obey me. And I made the angels . . . to adore me. Bu you, Mah I made you to surprise me.”
The Queer Eye for the Straight Guy always has a surprise. The new look for the man’s home is a surprise to his friends and loved-ones.
I am not sure God ever gets surprised, but the Eternal has been surprising people for thousands of years. God surprised all with scandalous grace. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
When you meet God in the heavenly, regardless of your sexual orientation or your gender identification, expect to see God running with arms outstretched to meet, because the Ruler of the Universe has been waiting since before the foundation of the world to meet you.
As you leave today, I encourage you to carry with you the wonderful surprise of God’s love and grace, to carry with you the new heart. And to share the surprise of grace to others, by creating a place of peace, joy and justice in your little corner of the world.
- Christian Community Bible: Catholic Pastoral Edition. (Quezon City, Philippines: Claretian Pub., 1999), 5.
- Christian Community Bible, 5.
- Rick Meyers. “Strongs’ Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.” e-Sword. Computer Software, Version 6.5.0. (Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee: Rick Meyers, 2002).
- “Strongs’ Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries.” e-Sword.
- L. William Countryman and M.R. Ritley. Gifted by Otherness. (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub.,2001), 63-65.
A lifelong counselor, teacher and educator, having worked in elementary and secondary education for 25 years, Gary Simpson is a member of the Canadian Counseling and Psychotherapy Association and has spoken and led workshops on gay-straight alliances, bullying, spiritual self-defense, gay Christian identity, and the needs of GLBT youth and young adults.
Currently studying at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif., he holds a B.Ed. from Union College in Lincoln, Neb., an M.A. in Guidance and Counseling and Ed.S. in Educational Psychology from Loma Linda University in Riverside, Calif., a Master’s in Religious Education from Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta, and a Certificate in Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif.