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Jan 06, 2019

Coming Home

Coming Home

Speaker: Guest Preacher

Series: January 2019

Category: Epiphany Sunday

Audio of 2nd scripture, Matthew 2:1-12, followed by the sermon begins at 23:29. Sermon begins with a few words from Rob, followed by our guest Jordan Decker.

Matthew 2:1-12

 1In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, 2asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” 3When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; 4and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. 5They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:

6   ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

          are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

     for from you shall come a ruler

          who is to shepherd my people Israel.’”

7Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. 8Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.” 9When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. 11On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 12And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.  THIS IS HOLY WISDOM, HOLY WORD.  THANKS BE TO GOD.  AMEN.

Coming Home

          Is epiphany, when we retell the story of the three wise men – Well we don’t know how many there were.  We assume three because of the three kinds of gifts.  We also don’t know they were “wise men.”  “Magi” is the Greek word, and it could be astrologers or philosophers, kings or perhaps queens.  In the plural, magi can include males and females, and in addition to this linguistic point, there is contextual evidence of female presence in such a contingent.[1]  It’s funny how we get so wedded to our ideas of gender. 

We do know that in the context of this story, our visitors have traveled from far away, across their known world.  From this right assessment, however, we may draw the wrong conclusions.  Here’s what I mean by that.  Have you noticed how we always speak of faith journeys, as if it’s all about going long distances to find yourself or to find God?  I even used that language in our community prayer today.  Maybe that’s not the best, or at least only, way to think about the spiritual path—there I go again!

Far be it for me to criticize journey language as I just finished a dissertation on pilgrimage, but anyone who has taken such an epic journey will tell you that while the encounters along the way are powerful, the “you” that emerges emerges from within.  You don’t have to go far to find yourself, nor to find God.  What do we teach our children?  That God is everywhere.  Yet, sometimes we act as if we, like the magi, go to great distances, carrying expensive gifts in order to be received by Christ. 

Notice, the story of the magi, doesn’t end at the manger.  It ends, when they return home.  They no longer carry gifts because they are they gifts.  The same is true for us.  The journey is ultimately about coming home to who we are, who we were created to be and become, our most beautiful, true, even divinely ordained selves, through whom God blesses the world. 

I want to introduce you to someone special who I’ve gotten the chance to know and who I believe has something important to teach us about going home to who you are in your deepest, most beautiful, most ordained being, your true identity despite the layers of identity thrust upon you.  So, this is Jordan, a bit of his story, and his ministry…

 Thank you Rob. Thank you for the invitation to be here today thank you for your friendship. I find it curious that the Magi took a different way Home.

In my faith journey, I also took a different way home. I started with Love your neighbor as your self Everyone I hated, everyone I judged, were the very places in myself I hated and judged the most. I hated the body I was in. She kept me trapped inside of things that were foreign to me. I hated chesticles I carried…Can I say that in church? Rob, I guess I’ll be asking for forgiveness since I didn’t ask for permission? I hated that I had to sit to pee, cross my legs when I sat and be seen and not heard… Since I first heard the words…”When you are already in hell, there is no place to go.’ I have not once questioned my

“enoughness” One night, I had hand full of pills, a glass of water, and some

Divine intervention by a phone call. My sister whom I hadn’t spoken to in months, was calling at the very moment I was having this little heart to heart with god. Me:” I cant live inside this body that is hell. If you don’t show me

the way, I’m coming to meet you and have we’re gonna have a little chat! … and then I hear this ”When you are already in hell, there is no place to go.’ And then this, …ready…by the sea side… That's the night, I like to say, that I lost my religion to find my faith. My sister just needed to talk night no particular reason. She knows I’m often up late. It was midnight my time it was 2 AM

hers. This is the seventh Epiphany Sunday, I have been able to tell this

story. You see I didn't want to die, I wanted to live fully into who I

knew god authentically made me to be. But I kept listening to

whom others told me I was. How can anyone one tell me, I’m not, who I know myself to be? How can I know you, better than you know yourself.

That still small voice inside of me, my guiding light, much like the

star for the Magi in the night sky, was guiding me home…a

different way. Let's pause a moment and look at the word different. Webster's

Dictionary defines “different” simply as… not the same.

Not better or worse, not good or bad, just not the same.

The tiniest dog or biggest tree that are different are labeled rare

and elevated above others that are the same. Rare: Meaning

unusually good or remarkable. I’ll take that definition please!

When people are too different, we don't get labeled rare. We get

labeled ‘different’ but with the squinch of your nose.

My next step! Unsquinching my nose at things that were

different. My mother used to tell me “that one finger you have

pointing out, there are three pointing back at you!”

The next step was watching for where was I judging different,

so I could then see WHY I was judging things as different, and

then using that information to see where I was then taking it

personal.

-OK, so you have red hair, I have brown hair…cool

-You like celery, I think it is from the dark side of the moon…ok

-John has the same tie on as I do…cool, not cool.

-You like techno colors, I like beige…ok

But now don’t be too different…because then you will become

the “other”. When I get put in the “other” box, now it is ok to

label me as “it”…

When I’m being dehumanized in order for someone else to feel

more comfortable, that’s saying I am different with a squinted up

nose.

So I started just saying, I love that!

I have literally said to someone…”I love that you have to

dehumanize me, to make yourself feel better, about how bad, you

feel about yourself.”

I love that We make up stories about other people, believe those

stories to be true, no actual facts, and then blame them for the

stories we made up about them…I love that!

I grew up in the evangelical Assembly of God church. Where they

spoke in tongues, and danced in the isles and scared me to

death. On Highway 40 somewhere in the middle of the New

Mexico desert, I found music that made me pull off the side of

the road, and had me dancing full Moon light, in praise God

much like the relatives of my childhood.

That helped me understand their music Took them to the place of

ecstasy with God, my music, took me to a place of ecstasy with

God. different music same God. different isn’t good or bad, right

or wrong, it just means not the same.

Further down the rabbit hole of my human, as I was unpacking

going to hell… I thought,

-What if astrology, is our life map, IS really our life's purpose laid

out for us at the very moment of our birth. and…I love that!

-what if numerology…and I love that

-what if quantum physics exists so that we can understand that

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, we are not our bodies, we

merely get to drive them around for about 80 years, give or take a

few…I love that!

I am pretty sure there are a number of you who are like me and

beat yourself up with words you would never say to anyone else!

My next step, in order to know thyself, was put down the bat I

was beating myself up with. I had to love myself back to life. Not

beat the heck out of myself in hopes that I will change. That

lesson doesn’t work out the way we think it will.

I didn’t actually change because I beat ourselves up. I changed

when I loved myself back to life. When I realized I was worthy of

being loved in the first place. All of my self work led me to realize the dream of a post-op recovery house and the lessons of Love serve remember.

I have not done this alone in the least! Ms. Janie Sparh has

tendrils generations deep and she has called on so many to

make this dream happen! I feel as though I am drinking from a

fire hose of support!

I wanted to start a nonprofit for safe post-op recovering. When

you say Yes to authenticity, that requires rites of passage, in this

case also known as Gender confirmation/affirmation surgery, you

need a place to recover that is safe. It was required for me to have a care giver for two weeks after I was released from the hospital after having what is called bottom surgery. That caregiver doesn’t need any special qualifications,

just a second set of eyes on you in case there is an emergency.

-A second set of hands to change your bandages if you can’t.

-Someone 24/7 making sure you are breathing and haven’t

busted a stitch and aren’t bleeding out. You need a place you don’t have to worry about getting kicked out of while needing 24/7 care because the owner finds out you are transgender. Imagine, the bits you have waited for your whole life, and the fear of them falling off or falling out! I held my breath for 38 days

moving through the fear, waiting for that special sensation to return. Hoping, praying, it would return and that the surgery was worth the gamble of not being killed for peeing in the bathroom. All of this healing while hiding so to not be found out! 57% of Trans youth will attempt suicide when there is no parental support. So let’s look at what that looks like…(If we are all

trans youth, this side plus some over here, all of you will be bullied, at school, at home by siblings or at least one parent, you will hold your urine so long it causes bladder infections because you are scared to go to the bathroom) or worse, you are a 7 year old trans girl that an adult teacher can’t make a rational decision about a child needing to pee that she pee’d herself twice at

school and the humiliation that went along with that. Now the 57% number drops to 4% when one parent loves their child. 41% of trans adults will attempt suicide. No one can know us better than we know ourselves. No wonder we are labeled mentally ill. I was. people didn’t believe who I knew myself to be,

created laws against me, tried to erase me. Told me I was not ME! When Trans women of Color say yes to authenticity, their life expectancy drops to 35 years old. I said Yes to my Faith…to Love, serve, remember Love God with all of my heart and Soul and mind and strength Love your neighbor as yourself, Serve others in need Remember why you are here in the first place. At the Trans HeartLine House we are loving humans back inside their beautiful bodies. Helping them on their long journey, find a little respite in this meat puppet called our human. Friends, we have these beautiful mansions called our bodies, minds and Spirits. We are so afraid to go inside and take a look around because we are too busy trying to be, who others tell us to be. We live on the front lawn, sleeping on the blow up mattresses, with a porta potty on the curb, So afraid to be our authentic

selves.

I was afraid of going to hell

I was already in hell

I was afraid of being abandon

I was abandoning myself

I was afraid of loneliness

I was lonely in a 20 year marriage. I invite to your own Epiphany this year. To leave the blow up mattress in the front yard, and turn inside open every door you are afraid to open. Its only scary the first time. Get to know

thyself. You have a road map inside called your still small voice. I had to

get quite to hear the audible silence of mine. I had to let the judgments go.

I had to let the self beratement go I had to just love what was and what is right now. Here is my assessment of my journey so far, where ever I go, there I am! Today, I am a 45 year old, divorced, overweight, single, cat loving man…and I love that!

[1] https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/simply-spirit/epiphany-wise-women

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