People Who Love Fiercely

lyniceA Friday classic. An excerpt from The Sun Magazine interview (Oct 2014) with Rev. Lynice Pinkard.

I identified deeply with my father’s ministry, and I wanted to emulate him. My siblings and I used to play church. I’d stand on the hearth with a white towel around my neck like a clerical collar and preach. They hated it, but I was the eldest, so they had to go along. As much as I loved Sunday worship services, the cadences of black preaching, the way people expressed their faith openly, the call and response, I also cherished the community, the deep love I felt from the congregation. And Jesus is just about the only man I’ve ever been in love with!

In early high school, though, a kind of fierceness began to develop in me. I sensed that other people thought I was strange because I liked girls. I never felt strange or as if God or Jesus didn’t love me, but I heard in various churches where I sang in community choirs that homosexuals were “a stink in God’s nostrils,” that God was sickened by the sight of us. In my late teens and early twenties I started reading the Gospels more and thinking about them in ways that others around me didn’t.

In my early thirties I came to understand that, for me, the cross was not a religious symbol; it was a symbol of dissidence. I realized that people who love fiercely often die violently: Gandhi, Medgar Evers, Martin Luther King Jr. The Jesus I was hearing about in many churches and the Jesus I was reading about in the Gospels seemed like two different people. Jesus became more of a revolutionary in my eyes. He is what the glory of God looks like on planet Earth. By meeting us in Jesus Christ, God “touched down” and became vulnerable to suffering, even to the point of violent death, to be in solidarity with us and to bring about justice, which I like to think of as love in action. The best of our leaders in the U.S. and around the world also touch down in solidarity with suffering people and a suffering planet.

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