I have been married for so long to my amazing wife that there was no Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Yes – you read that correctly. That weekend oh so long ago when we were married was when the Super Bowl was played. MLK Day came into being the next year, but some states didn’t accept it for a while. S. Carolina, Utah, and Virginia were the last states to do so – it took until 2000 for the day to become fully accepted. After accepting it in 1986, Arizona rescinded it, only to accept it once more in 1993. Some places and people just have difficulty expressing appreciation for the work of others – especially if the other is not like them.

This is Pride Month for the LGBTQ community, and there are rainbows everywhere. It wasn’t that long ago that those celebrations were held behind closed doors. A lot of straight people don’t see the need for Pride month – just another PC bit of nonsense that makes lefties feel good about themselves (I had a number of people say this to me a couple of years ago – pretty weak). It makes me sad that there are groups so abused by the larger culture that we have to have special months and days to remind us of their value. It makes me sadder that many of the abusers say they are Christians.

The thing that most people don’t understand about having advantages (some might call it privilege), is that we don’t need those special days, because every day is a day for us to feel good about ourselves. Growing up white, male, Christian, and straight, I never had to have anyone tell me to be proud of who I was. As kids, we would talk about our background – are you Irish, or Italian, or Canadian? – and there was never anyone saying we shouldn’t be proud of that. I didn’t need a “white pride month”, (although there have been some who have promoted the idea in recent years) to have to prove to others that it was okay to be white. I didn’t have to worry about liking a person of the opposite sex, because I had the privilege of being part of the majority, and therefore “normal”. I learned all too soon that there is no such thing as normal – diversity is the key to life. Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

I also think of the many people I have known who are different from me, and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to feel unacceptable in your own country. To feel less than or in danger. To feel like maybe God made a mistake. To be afraid you will be beaten or even murdered for who you are or what you look like. I can’t imagine those things because I have the advantage of being white, male, Christian, straight – and now, middle class – in a country that values those things above all else. I don’t have to hide who I am, because I am allowed to be proud.

And so are you – in the United Church of Christ, we have some really great phrases that we bandy about regularly. One of them is, “No matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.” We use this with abandon, and sometimes we even mean it! Mostly, we want every person to know that they are worthy of love and respect, not because of what we have accomplished, but because of how God made us. I will attend many of the Pride events in our community as a sign of support, but I will always be proud of who you are, regardless of the month. No matter who you are – or what you look like – or who you love – or how you identify – are how much money you have – you are welcome here.

Prayer – God of many people, forgive us if we feel more worthy than others, and support us in who we are. You made us and You love us, and that is enough. Amen.

Today’s image is of the Pride jersey and hat of the SF Giants – looks fabulous!