Alleluia Christ is Risen!
The world has changed, the power of the tomb defeated. This the season of celebration and transformation. All that is old is being made new, our chains our broken and life reigns triumphant. These strains of joy and hope have been difficult for me to hear this year. For at the beginning of the Easter feast I was confronted with a reminder of worldly death, at the heart of the Eucharist.
I watched delighted as the new fire was kindled, joined the hymns as we processed into the darkened nave. At first it was business as usual, as the now familiar words fell easily from my lips. Then as the Paschal homily of St. Chrysostom was read the service was transformed from a routine affirmation of faith, to an intense encounter of hope. As he spoke through the through the centuries of people being called in at the 6th, 9th and even 11th hour I found myself on the brink of tears. This year has been a particularly painful one for me, as I've wrestled with the way the Episcopal Church often ignores those of us who don't fit into the gender binary. Within our church I’ve been told so many times that my pronouns are an inconvenience, that my presence is a burden. As I listened to Chrysostom's words I could hear myself being called back, invited in to the feast that I have so often been turned away from due to a truth that I cannot deny. With those words falling through the centuries I was ready, yet again, to turn away from the pain and hurt. I was excited and eager to trust that love is working in even the darkest moments of my life.
Then we reached the Eucharist, that precious gateway to Mystery. Opened by the lessons I had heard I was eager for this celebration, this Thanksgiving. So lost was I, wrapped tightly in the love that held me close, that I didn’t notice which Eucharistic prayer we were using. Then out of the warmth and light a single phrase cut me to the quick, from Eucharist prayer B the words "everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters" echoed through the room. In that moment it felt as though the invitation I had been issued just moments before was stripped away. In an instant I cast from the joy of being a beloved person invited to the greatest feast of all time, into the role of an outsider, a freak, a mistake. With the life I have lived I no longer feel as though I am a son or a daughter, gendered words that have repeatedly asked me to lie about myself. On my most daring days I believe that I could be a child of God, yet there are times such daring feels more like self-delusion than the whisper of truth.
Yet I believe that it is from the seed of that delusion that the truth of resurrection can be spoken. For even though I remain plagued by doubt, the fact that I can even consider believing that I am a child of God is nothing less than miraculous.
I was never meant to survive. Every time I turn on the news and hear about another trans youth committing suicide I am reminded that was supposed to me. A psychiatric survivor who was drugged in adolescence to enforce conformity, I was never supposed to speak. Isolated from my people, cut off from the history of gender-benders from across time, I was never supposed to learn. Condemned as demon possessed, and cast out of the church of my youth, I was never supposed to believe.
And yet, I do. For I have tasted of the resurrection. I’ve felt the resurrection in the arms of those who have held me as I’ve cried. I’ve seen the living Christ in the communities who’ve claimed me, even when I wouldn’t claim myself. I lived a resurrected life, in the triumphant act of getting up each and every morning.
This year I don’t have the strength to try and take in the enormity of the resurrection. I have no energy for debates about the nature of the resurrected body, nor a desire to tease out the complicated traditions that have formed this season. At this moment, for me, entering the resurrection simply means living under the incredible belief that even my broken body, my battered soul, is in the process of being made holy and whole.