It was Christmas break. My first semester of college had ended, and I was on the train home from New York City. Thick snowflakes had begun to fall. As I left the station, my father was there to greet me. We shared a strong relationship. We talked about everything: Faith, relationships, dreams, the latest Starbucks drink. But as I climbed into his blue as I climbed into his blue truck that night, I was quiet. After a few minutes, he looked at me and said, “you’re not telling me something. What’s up?” “Nothing,” I said starring out the window. “just tired, I guess.”
But he asked again, “Come on J, you always talk to me. What is it?”
My Chest became tight, and I could feel a headache coming. For some reason, I was nervous about what he might say next. After another moment of silence, he said, “You know J, if you’re gay that’s OK.”
In that second, all the tension and fear that had gathered in my shoulders released. I breathed deeply. I opened my phone and timidly showed my father a photo of me with my first boyfriend by a Christmas tree. He smiled and said, “You two look good together.” It was a good beginning.
Mary, a young girl from Nazareth, was going about her daily life when suddenly she was confronted with something unexpected. The Angel Gabriel told Mary that she would give birth to God’s son. No one would ever see her the same way, and she might be rejected by those who didn’t understand what God was doing. She was afraid, but the Angel was send to encourage her.
I connect to what I imagine Mary must have felt. I did not plan on coming out to my father or my entire family that Christmas, but a moment of great fear turned into a surprise of joy and anticipation. I feared that my family would not understand, or that they would just see me as different. But this is not what happened. It took a while for them to understand, but they accepted me, and I showed them grace as well. As we approach Christmas, think about the Marys around you, or the queer kid with a secret. Who is carrying fear and uncertainty about what is to come? What does it mean to be surprised and overwhelmed by the uniqueness of one’s identity? The angel Gabriel made a comforting appearance, and my father’s face melted into a smile at the train station that Christmas. Today, where are the comforters when comfort seems impossible? Who comes to say. “Do not be afraid”?Contemporary Reading – Will You Keep Watch with Me: Advent Reflections of Peacemakers, Edited by Claire Brown and Michael McRay
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.Luke 1:28-38 (NRSV)