Just kidding…I walked into a church but none the less the premise is the same. One day in 2017 I walked into an Episcopal Church with my family. We were greeted by a lady named Phyllis at the door and given some rolls. As we moved through the service I wept and wept. It was so beautiful.
That was nearly 2 years ago and yesterday I got to preach at that very same church.
Here is the link to my sermon.
I opened with a poem by Meggan Watterson from her book The Sutras of Unspeakable Joy.
“You ask nothing of me. There’s no proof, no condition, no evidence of my worth needed. You love me because I exhale. Because I exist. Because I came back for you. And to love you in return, all I have to do is love the world.”
Here the the transcript to my sermon.
I remember the first time I truly connected with God. I was dying of a broken heart on my kitchen floor. I lay there for 3 days praying for someone to love me for who I am and for a family of my own. I was battling with the demon of my infertility and I was terrified I would never be a mother. I have always wanted to give birth but my body has repeatedly rejected the opportunity at every turn.
My turning to God at that exact moment of heartbreak was so shocking of a choice that I am still completely awe struck that HE is where I turned. At that moment I was overcome with such a blinding grief that I felt like the demon possessed man in Luke. I recognize now that that moment in 2010 was not the first moment I have wandered in solitary places seeking sanity among the tombs. I have often been driven by the demon into the wilds of my ego, away from love and the whispers of the Holy Spirit. It is an avoidance and fear about my true calling and purpose here on Earth. Like Legion, I have been possessed by the demons of questioning that have kept me from following my true calling from God.
How often have you found yourself there? Lying in the darkness of a graveyard of your making or underneath the bush as Elijah was in 1 Kings, overcome with fear and unable to move forward in your life, wishing for a death that would never come.
As a very young child I went to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. There was a song we sang in primary called, “I am a child of God”. I am a child of God and he has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. I am a child of God and so my needs are great; help me to understand his words before it grows too late.
As we heard in Galatians, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith”.
As a child I used to tell stories that were more ½ truth than truth. I wanted to be seen and not be invisible. So I would make up stories in the hopes of being loved. I wanted to be worthy of love. I wanted to be worthy of Gods love but I didn’t believe I was a child of God. Even as a 6 year old I worried I would never measure up.
As I grew up I gradually realized that I was not going to be loved by God because I was often told I was a walking sin. I did all the things a young woman was not supposed to do. As a bisexual woman with a rebellious streak there was no hope for a girl like me.
Each week we confess our sins in church. We repent of the evil that enslaves us, the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.
I do not believe that the evil is what we have been taught it is. I don’t believe it is the sin of the flesh, smoking, drinking, homelessness, sexual orientation or gender identity. That is low hanging fruit. Those things are too easy and they let people who are quick to judge feel pious in their accusation of personal sin. They allow some Christians to play with the surface tension of scripture, never really tipping the cup to spill over the edge to wrestle with the difficult questions.
Just as Jesus freed the demon possessed man from the evil that plagued him, so too has he freed me from my demons. I know now that I am indeed worthy of Gods love despite my belief that I am not. I am chosen for this work, for this deep dive into the world of divine love. Like Elijah, I am a troublemaker. I am a prophet. I believe in a new brand of advocacy where we humble ourselves to our shortcomings and engage in acts of graceful revolution that bring light to the true reality of people’s lives. I believe that if we engage people in their own spaces, teach them to look at injustices as moments that touch their own lives, if we give them the knowledge of the power structure, if we give them the tools to infiltrate its membrane, then change will take place in America. This is the Graceful Revolution. I am chosen for this work not DESPITE of who I am but BECAUSE of who I am.
The evil that enslaves us is in not believing that we are worthy of Gods love. The evil that keeps us wandering the tombs naked and vulnerable, lost and out of our wits is so potent that it tells us that because of WHO we are at our core we are bad and entirely unlovable.
I thought my story ended as a younger woman. I thought I was unworthy of love and belonging. I thought I was meant to be used and thrown away. To use and throw away others. To be consumed by fear and anger fighting a system that believes me to be wrong because of who I am and the choices I have made.
And then in my heartbreak I was given the greatest gift. I was given the gift of love. The gift of a love so precious and true that it was written on a post it note and left for me to find by my beloved. A note that said simply, “You are worthy.” That love of the flesh has led me to the love of God and to a deep and unyielding love of the Holy Spirit.
And so today I implore you, when you are as Elijah terrified of death and yet knowing you are doing as the lord wished because you are his child, laying under that bush wishing for death, when you are lost in the graveyard of your mind unable to believe in your worth as Gods child, when you are desperate to feel that love, close your eyes, breathe deep in through your nose and out of your mouth, put your hand on your heart and hear the call of God, the trinity, and our beloved Mother Mary.
Know that you are worthy.
Know that you are love.
Know that each and every one of you is a child of God and as you sit at the feet of his son remember that he loves you. No. Matter. What.
It’s Monday, cause some mayhem, raise some hell!
Dr. Melissa Bird
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