This week has gone nothing like I had planned. I was supposed to be at a retreat where I could catch a quick breath of fresh air and get to know some colleagues. Through a series of unfortunate events, I had to leave the retreat early to get back home. I must say that I was very disappointed and angry for not having the time to simply be still.
Well, while I was licking my wounds and feeling sorry for myself, I got a call from my 14 year old. My first reaction was one of anger. Why was he using his cell phone during school hours? My anger gave way to concern as he asked me to bring the medical supplies needed to treat a bleed.
While driving to the school, a million questions began to pass through my mind. What happened? Did he hit his head? My son has severe hemophilia, this could be life threatening. My sense of self-pity gave way to fear and concern. I found out that he was physically attacked at school and pushed off of a railing that was approximately 5 or 6 feet off the ground. Luckily, there was a video camera that caught the entire event on film.
This was a hate crime. The boys who did this had been teasing my son for many days before this event. They called him names that were demeaning and insulting. My son, who says he is not gay, was called names that I will not even write here. They are too cruel and too obscene. All of the names that these two “gentlemen” called my son reflected a gross prejudice against those people who are labeled as different. In this case, the insults were slurs centered around sexuality.
In light of recent national events and this particular event that affected the life of my own family, I come to one question about my own faith. How do I seriously share radical hospitality when I create lists of those who are in the loop and those who should be excluded? I am called to be a minister to all people. We must pick up the gauntlet of being a welcoming and affirming church so that we can stand up against the bullies of this world.
Christ came to set us all free, not to create a list of those who are in and those who are out. Until we truly open our doors and welcome all of Christ’s children, we cannot successfully win the battle against those who threaten and mistreat others. I ask you to stand with me and be far-reaching in your efforts to bring the light of Christ into a world that needs hope and not judgment.
As I pray about this situation, I also am reminded that those who mistreated my son also need prayers. I hope that these two young men reevaluate their own belief systems and learn from this incident. I pray for the graciousness and mercy of God to pour into the lives of our children. I also lift up gratitude for how the leadership of the school (Yes, I mean the public school) handled this situation.