One Main Street United Church’s Station
in the Ecumenical Stations of the Cross Walk, Good Friday, 2014
2014 Theme of the Walk: “Break the Silence – Tell the Story”
One Main Street United’s Theme: “Affirming the Crosses We Carry for Each Other”
Mark 15:21: And they compelled a passer-by, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
from the Los Angeles Times, published in The Hamilton Spectator, April 5, 2014:
“ CAPE TOWN, South Africa
When South African airport officials threatened to send Dr. Paul Semugoma back to his native Uganda, he shook with fear.
Semugoma, an outspoken gay activist, was determined to remain in South Africa, where he has lived for two years, rather than be sent back to one of Africa’s most homophobic countries.
Dozens of men are behind bars in Africa, awaiting trial on sodomy charges or already convicted under anti-gay legislation that, according to Amnesty International, exists in 38 African countries.”
One of the toxins in the brew that has boiled over in this ugly homophobia in Uganda and other African countries has been a religious export from North America.
From The Independent (a British newspaper), Friday, March 14, 2014:
‘Roger Ross Williams, the director of God Loves Uganda, a documentary about the influence of conservative US Christians in the East African nation, said, “The anti-homosexuality bill would never have come about [in Uganda] without the involvement of American fundamentalist evangelicals.”
One of the first to investigate links between American conservatives and the African anti-gay movement was Kipya Kaoma, a Zambian clergyman living in Boston. Homosexuality was illegal in Uganda under existing colonial laws, he explained, “But nobody was ever arrested or prosecuted based on those old laws. People turned a blind eye to it. Homosexuality was not a political issue.”
That changed in 2009, Rev Kaoma said, when a group of American evangelicals led by Pastor Scott Lively, a self-proclaimed expert on the “gay movement”, held a series of talks in Uganda. Mr Lively warned audiences that the “evil institution” of homosexuality sought to “prey upon” and recruit Ugandan children in a bid to “defeat the marriage-based society”.’
Losing the battle in the USA with respect to same-sex rights, American fundamentalist evangelicals have been taking their homophobia to other countries around the world.
The key thing, for us, today, here, on this walk, is that as Christians, we cannot disown what others do in Christ’s name. We cannot disown the homo- and trans-phobia that uses the name of Christ to cover its brutal disregard for all God’s children and all God’s creation. We must acknowledge that this homo- and trans-phobia is in our churches, always implicit, if not far too often clearly explicit in marriage and ordination policies, in the churches’ understanding of the family, and of the very nature of personhood. We must acknowledge that this homo- and trans-phobia is in us all, grinding us down.
Like the cross which Simon of Cyrene carried for Jesus.
Let us bear this cross for each other.
All of us have experienced oppression. Oppression denies dignity.
Let us who have experienced oppression break the silence and tell the story.
Let us break the silence and tell the story of God’s love for each of us in our distinct sexual orientations and gender identities and carry the cross for each other.
When we support and affirm each other, we take up a cross none was born to carry, but which homo- and trans-phobia have placed upon some of us. When we support and affirm each other, we take up the cross of Jesus as Simon of Cyrene did. We carry the cross for each other.
Let us sing:
Deep in our hearts there is a common purpose;
Deep in our hearts there is a common goal;
Deep in our hearts there is a sacred message,
justice and peace in harmony.