“The least of these…”

I spent last weekend at a retreat. Not just any retreat, but one sponsored by GALA (Gay and Lesbian Acceptance). This was our second year attending. We’ve become (and are becoming) part of this community the last couple of years in very personal ways. It’s been a challenge, but it’s also been a blessing…and this year was no exception.

We were a somewhat smaller group, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

We heard–and shared–stories with each other. Sometimes stories of incredible pain and exclusion…but there were also stories of incredible acceptance and love.

We shared in laughter and games.

We enjoyed the challenge of a silent auction…wondering who was going to get the last bid on. The most popular items were some sets of jams…one set of 4 jams went for over $30, another for $27.

We shared our talents with each other…comic and more serious.

And we shared in a moving service that included an Agape meal. We began with singing–singing songs of joy and hope, songs of challenge. We shared in offering…and then we shared in sharing Christ’s meal. Those who offered it were selected because they embodied various aspects of the Christ–one who has been a member of our faith tradition for all of her life, but has never been allowed to be a “full” member…has always been on the outside because of who she is; one who is the hope of the future, a young woman who was presentative of the LGBT youth who were present…who is our future; and one who is the institutional representative, the ordained minister. The three of them represented different aspects of the one God–diversity united in one.

As the bread and grape juice were offered to each one present–many of whom have been deeply hurt in the past by being excluded from Christ’s body–by these friends, I was reminded of the scripture (Matthew 25:39-41) that says (my paraphrase) “When you minister to the least of these–those who are ignored or marginalized–you minister to me.” These were “the least”…at least in the eyes of many.

And I was reminded of just how much we need each other. When we marginalize others, we are marginalizing Christ…and we all lose.

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