Author: Nicole Speer
The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. Psalm 118:22
I am becoming increasingly bold in identifying myself as a Christian. This may sound strange to folks for whom church is a natural part of life, but as someone who spent most of her life eschewing Christianity, it took me some time to get used to calling myself a Christian.
My early experiences tagging along to Sunday school with my churchgoing friends and witnessing the rise of the Christian Right taught me that churches were places of exclusion. As a bisexual woman, a first-generation U.S. citizen, and a female scientist, I had plenty of opportunities to feel excluded. The last thing I needed was another corner of the world telling me I was not welcome.
As I have befriended more members of our congregation over the past few years, I have realized I am not alone in feeling rejected from other Christian spaces. We have different reasons for feeling excluded from Christian communities prior to finding our beloved church, but we have all found refuge in the abundant welcome we find here.
With Christmas nearly upon us, I cannot help thinking of us as the Island of Misfit Toys from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special I watched as a child. We were rejected from other communities, either unwillingly because of our unconventional views, or willingly we when realized they would never welcome us as ourselves. On our Island of Misfit Christians, many of us find refuge from the pain of our past rejection. Like a bone that has broken and grows back stronger, the unconditional love we share with each other heals us and makes us more capable of shining God’s light into our dark world.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, says “God uses the rejected to lead the moral revival.” I am struck by the truth of his statement as I think of the ways our congregation used the societal turmoil of this past year to lead our community forward in love. In addition to the work we have always done to serve the poor, the disabled, and the other marginalized groups in our community, we have an emerging Racial Justice Ministry and a new Climate Action Team! Clearly, I am not the only one who has grown bolder this year in claiming my Christianity. Our congregation is claiming its position as the cornerstone of a moral revival in our community.
The pandemics of COVID and systemic racism, and the climate and economic disasters we are facing, have shaken all of our foundations this year. Unfortunately, the rot that allows 8 million additional people in our country to fall into poverty during a global pandemic, enables cities to spend more money on policing than on housing and human services, and empowers an openly racist and corrupt President will not go away on January 20, 2021. Our country has a lot of rebuilding to do. As we emerge from the rubble of 2020’s destruction, I am confident we will not simply dust ourselves off and walk away. We, the rejected Christians, will be the cornerstones of a new, just, compassionate foundation for our community.
Ever-present and ever-loving God, as our country settles into the comfort of competent, compassionate leadership in the new year, help us remember our roles as cornerstones in the building of your beloved community.
“God uses the rejected to lead the moral revival” is a quote from Rev. Dr. Barber’s June 3, 2018, National Cathedral sermon, recently published as a short book entitled, We Are Called to Be a Movement.