Thus another Advent begins. It promises to be one of the most different Advent seasons of my life. To begin with I’m passing through the season in the company of my sister and my niece. I haven’t spent Advent with my sister since 1976. Wow, that’s almost 40 years ago. Hard to believe but it is true. I’ve never spent an Advent with my niece.
How did this situation come about? It was a function of my vocation and my location. I went to Ann Arbor for college in the fall of 1976 and for the next 10 years was at some school during Advent. I was only able to come home in the week of Christmas. In 1987 I jumped into parish ministry and that meant being at a congregation for Advent and mostly getting back to Cleveland on or after Christmas.
Even when I left parish ministry and transitioned I still couldn’t go home for Advent because I still lived on the west coast and had to work for a living. I couldn’t take 4 weeks off to go home for Advent. When I returned to my true vocation the same congregational-life-in-December pattern resumed.
Now I have my sister and niece here with me. This is their first Advent in the Northwest and they must find their feet in this season while in a new place. That is a challenge for them. The challenge for me is that together with them, we must find our way as family in this Advent and in all the seasons ahead. We are trying new things as we continue to build a new home together. It’s a process that requires attention and care from each of us but so far I think we are doing well.
TDOR was first marked on November 20, 1999–an important year for me as that was the year that my male life collapsed and my transition began. However the day didn’t really penetrate my awareness until maybe 2005, though it has been a constant companion since then.
This Friday and Saturday I’m speaking at two Transgender Day of Remembrance events. This is a first for me. I’ve never been asked to speak at such an event before and I’m honored and humbled to have been invited.
I have that set of feelings that I always get when I’m approaching the chance to open my mouth in public. One of that set of feelings is nervousness. That might come as a surprise to some since I’m always told how calm and peaceful I am. I like to think of this nervousness as the waves that start to form as you move from the open sea toward the shore. Where the shore and the wind and the sea meet there is the energy of the waves and you need the waves if you’re going to surf. And for me, speaking is like surfing. The day I no longer feel that nervousness is the day I hang ’em up as a preacher.
I feel excited. I’m eager for the events to start and the moments to come. I want to see what will happen and what God will do. i want to do that thing I do because I know that something good will happen for those gathered communities. That’s why I open my mouth, so that good might happen for others.
Specific to the day I feel deep sadness and strong outrage. I’ll speak to both of those in my remarks Friday and Saturday. I’ll call both communities to remembrance and to action. May God add a blessing to the speaking and the hearing.