Come on home
You don’t have to be alone.
—Summer’s End by John Prine
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My gay friend loves Easter. And no, it’s not because of the jaunty bunny or rainbow-colored eggs.
My friend loves Easter because when he was as good as dead, Easter gave him his life back. He doesn’t care whether the resurrection is fact or fiction, logos or mythos. Easter saved him.
I grew up in church, he told me. I heard the Holy Week stories every year. Palm Sunday. Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Easter Sunday.
As a child I loved skipping into the church waving palm branches. I loved washing feet at the Maundy Thursday faux Seder and saying as Jesus said to his disciples: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
I loved the seven last words from the cross on Good Friday. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” sent chills down my spine. I loved the sanctuary shrouded in black for Black Saturday.
But most of all, I loved the sight of the gloriously transformed sanctuary on Easter Sunday, bedecked with lilies, tulips, and banners aflutter with butterflies proclaiming: HE IS RISEN.
I loved church. Church felt like home.
And then I discovered I was gay.
I told no one. I had heard enough growing up in the church to know people like me were unwelcome. We were judged. Condemned.
I didn’t feel safe anymore. I didn’t feel at home. Jesus had left the church.
But I kept going. It was in my blood. It was a family thing. I wasn’t strong enough to stand up and just walk away.
And then it happened.
Once again it was Holy Week. Jesus was unjustly condemned, crucified, and buried in a tomb. A stone was rolled over its mouth.
I’d heard that story a million times. But on this particular day I was hearing it as my story. The world had condemned, crucified, and buried me, but God would not let hatred win.
God rolled away the stone and said to his son: Come out.
On that particular Easter Sunday I heard that voice say to me: The stone is rolled away. Come out.
And I did.
And guess what: Much to my surprise I was welcomed by a whole new family.
Come on home, brother. You don’t have to be alone. Ever again.
(And that’s the resurrection I believe in.)
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