Pride Sunday
Psalm 139:1-18
Matthew 5:1-12, 14-16

One of the stories that we as humans like to tell goes like this:

In the beginning, there was a minutely small and infinitely dense speck of dust floating in the vast nothingness. At some point, this speck of dust exploded, and the entire universe spread forth at an incredibly high rate of speed. First it was gravity that came into being, and light, galaxies, suns, and planets eventually followed. Some of the debris from this explosion began to gather together about 9 billion years later, forming what would become Earth. Water then appeared on its surface, and life was soon to follow, and many millennia of evolution led to the first human beings — homo sapiens, as we are technically known.

I can’t say that I’ve studied this since college, so my retelling of this story is a little bit vague. Nevertheless, I have no reason to believe it’s not true, at least until a new theory comes around. But around here, there’s another story that we like to tell that tells of the process a little bit differently.

In the beginning there was…nothing.

So God did what God does, and began to create. First it was the light and the darkness, called day and night. Then God separated the waters, creating the dome of the sky and the waters below, and then the waters below were gathered so that there was land and then there was the seas. After there were seas and the land, God filled the land with vegetation, with plants that bore seeds and trees that bore fruit. And God said that it was good.

Then God created lights in the sky to mark signs, the seasons, the days, and the years; the greater light—the sun—to mark the days and the years, and the lesser light—the moon—to mark the night. And seeing that the seas and the skies were empty, God created sea monsters and other swimming creatures to populate the waters, and flying birds to populate the sky. Next, God had the land bring forth all kinds of living and wild creatures; you know, the sort that creep on the dry land. And God saw all of this and said that it was good.

Then God began to play around in the dirt a little bit. God took the dust of the ground and formed something that looked like a human being—“in our image” is how God described it—and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life. God told this human to have dominion over every creature and organism that had been created and to be fruitful and multiply. And God saw all that had been created and for the very first time said that it was “very good.”

These are two different stories that tell of our origins; of the creation of the world and of human beings. The first story is the scientific story, and it holds an immense importance in understanding where our world came from, where we as humans came from, and the nature of our ever-expanding cosmos.

Then God began to play around in the dirt a little bit. God took the dust of the ground and formed something that looked like a human being—“in our image” is how God described

it—and breathed into its nostrils the breath of life. God told this human to have dominion over every creature and organism that had been created and to be fruitful and multiply. And God saw all that had been created and for the very first time said that it was “very good.”

These are two different stories that tell of our origins; of the creation of the world and of human beings. The first story is the scientific story, and it holds an immense importance in understanding where our world came from, where we as humans came from, and the nature of our ever-expanding cosmos.

It was this theme that the psalmist took on in the lesson that was read a few moments ago:

For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearfully, as though God was full of awe at what had been created. Wonderfully, in the same way that a well-seasoned watchmaker skillfully builds a new timepiece. Made, in a way that suggests that we aren’t merely products of our culture or our time but rather knitted together with the image of God within our very identity, blessing out identities and our bodies.

This is the God who searches us and knows us, who knows when we sit down or when we stand back up. This is the God knows all of our ways, all facets of our identity and our innermost thoughts. This is the God from whom we can never escape; who abides with us whether we find ourselves on mountaintop or whether we are making our bed in Hell. This is the God who knows our deepest longings and urges; our questions and our struggles And this God—who knows all that we are — looks at us and calls us the beloved; the loved.

Yet time and time again, it seems that we are tempted to forget this. Too often, we feel the urge to hide those parts of ourselves where we are convinced that God somehow made a mistake when creating us. And let us not forget that we in the Church have done a terrific job of acting as though this were true, as we call some people “incompatible with Christian teaching” because of their identities.

Of course, there are times when we admittedly have done a great job of screwing it up for ourselves. The Bible is full of stories of people and communities falling away from their identities and God having to usher them back, reminding them of who they were created to be. And time and time again, we will likely mess it up again, acting in ways that are not loving to ourselves, to our neighbors, or to God.

And yet—even when it seems as though we are in the depths of Hell and torment itself, estranged from our innermost being, God is with us, constantly whispering in our ears: you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Can you imagine what might happen if we took this to heart? Can you imagine if this really became one of our core values?

I can’t help but believe that we would be able to see each person that walks through these doors and see that divine image within them; to see them fully, knowing that they are

wonderfully made by God. We would be able to go down to the Pride March this afternoon and look each and every person in the face and say, “you are fearfully and wonderfully made,” all inclusive of gender expression and sexual orientation; of all facets of their identity. We would be able to encourage our children to fully explore who it is that they have been created to be, because they have been fearfully and wonderfully made by their Creator.

And I think that we might live a little more boldly, a little more authentically. We would begin to see our bodies as a gift. We would have the grace to fully explore our own identities, to better understand ourselves and our role in this world. And I firmly believe that we would have the courage to show up as our full self—fully embodied; fully present. We would be able to see ourselves as Jesus taught us to see ourselves—as a light in this world, a light that we can no longer hide but must shine brightly so that the whole world can see.

And we as a church would look more like the body of Christ. We would be far less willing to exclude those who don’t act or think or worship or love like we do. We would be more prophetic when any person is treated as though they are disposable, when they are abused or oppressed or locked in cages. And we might get a little more bold; a little more graceful; a little more loving.

For my friends, you are fearful and wonderfully made, and do not let a single person tell you otherwise. This is not saying that we are perfect; there’s always the need to confess and repent, and God’s grace is always working within us to make us more fully human; more fully ourselves.

But let also not forget what it is that we say on Ash Wednesday: “Remember that you are dust.”

And not just any dust. We are that same galactic dust, stardust, composed in primordial explosions. We are the dust that was formed in the hands of God, that received the breath of God. And God saw that it was very good.