Last month, 43 people marched with Holy Cross at the Heartland Pride parade in downtown Omaha (including 6 friends from Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bellevue). It was a joyful celebration where thousands of people gathered to stand up for unity and equality for the LGBTQ+ community.
During the parade we wore rainbows and carried signs of love - including a banner with the words, “You Are Loved” in bold print. This year, Wendy Brenner and I carried this banner and it received a lot of attention. People yelled, “We love you, too!” and “Thank you!!” One woman who was watching the parade with her 3 children actually stopped us en route and asked if they could take a picture with us. Of course we said yes and she quickly positioned her children around the banner and took a picture before thanking us profusely.
This moment had a huge impact on me, because it spoke to the power of this simple message. The message of love that we share is so radical, so unexpected, that it is worthy of a photo op! Sadly, the church has too often shared a very different message, telling people in the LGBTQ+ community (and others who do not conform to societal expectations) that they are NOT loved, that they are not acceptable. And so it is unexpected and surprising when a church shows up at a pride parade and loudly proclaims the TRUTH of God’s love for all people. Which is exactly why it is so important that we march - to stand up and speak out and to share the Good News of God’s love.
I am so lucky to have been raised in a church that taught me the truth of God’s love and I am so grateful to be part of a community today that publicly proclaims this truth so that everyone can hear it. Because the world is in need of the Good News that we share. That mother with her children is a perfect example of how desperately people are longing to hear this message of love.
You are loved. Do not underestimate the power of this simple message. It is one we all need to hear. And it is a message that we all can share.