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Fourth Sunday in Lent - March 27, 2022

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of each heart be pleasing to you, O God, my strength and my Redeemer. +

Good morning.

This Lent has been like none other for me. I am not totally sure why, but I think much of it has to do with my own intentionality. I was ordained as a deacon in September 2020, but I didn’t really feel like I stepped into my ordination until this year because last year so much was closed down due to COVID. This year feels like many of the “firsts” of my deaconate journey. And that has caused me to be very reflective of the journey that brought me to this point today. So, as Mother Miriam mentioned 2 weeks ago in her homily, I am going to evangelize a bit today and share some of my testimony.

All I have ever wanted in life, for as long as I can remember, is to have relationship with Divine. Real relationship. Even though I didn’t know what that meant or what it looked like.

I grew up in central Illinois on 18 acres surrounded by woods. Birds of all types – hawks, cardinals, blue jays, purple martins swooping for bugs. There were Bambi-like deer prancing through the yard. Garden snakes slithering through.

Squirrels, cotton-tail rabbits, red foxes.

Lightening bugs, butterflies, & June bugs to chase.

Crawdads & tadpoles.

The yard was full of soft grass & wild purple clover. Red & black raspberries grew at the edge of the woods and tall cattails rose up beside the creek.

And the trees—oaks, maples, walnuts, elms ... all growing together side by side. If you have ever had the pleasure of gazing upon a mixed wood forest, then you know that there are more shades of green than Crayola could ever reproduce!

From the very beginning, I knew in my core that these were gifts from God, and I wanted nothing more than to have real relationship with this Creator God. As Deacon Mildred shared Psalm 63 with us last Sunday, my heart was singing:

God! My God! It’s you—

I watch for you!

My whole being thirsts for you!

My family were regular church attenders, and I also attended a Catholic school 1st through 5th grade. Our teachers were Franciscan nuns who wore full habits. You saw only hands and faces. They were lively, caring women and I thought they had the best job in the world! Teach a few kids and then talk to Jesus the rest of the day. Nothing could be better than that in my child-mind.

They loved me and accepted me. They became my church family, which meant, that they too, like the animals and trees, were now part of my God family.

In high school I met a group that I lovingly call the Jesus Hippy Freaks. As young “born-again” Christians, we had religious tracts in the pockets of our bell bottoms, huge crosses embroidered on the back of our jean jackets and King James tucked firmly under our arms. We went to prayer meetings & tent revivals, sang praise songs and told everyone who would listen about the love of Jesus.

They loved me and accepted me.

They told me I was a “beautiful sister in Christ.”

And so, my God family grew to include them as well.

As a young adult, both in Illinois and here in Texas, I attended several different churches and Christian fellowship groups with a variety of friends. I loved learning and hearing about God. And, I always loved the people and the fellowship as I continued to seek relationship with Divine alongside my God family.

However, things changed drastically for me when realized I was gay. To my face I was still called a beautiful sister in Chris