Monday, June 25, 2012


The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh—my adversaries and foes—they shall stumble and fall. (Psalm 27.1-2)

Yesterday Walt and I, along with many members of our Lake View Presbyterian faith community, joined more than 60 churches to walk in Chicago’s Pride Parade. There were hundreds of us—so many that our entourage stretched longer than a city block, far longer than any Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches parade entry ever had. It was thrilling, and our joy was made full by the ebullient response we received. Thousands of spectators cheered, thanked us, high-fived us, and more than a few embraced us with teary eyes. As we turned the corner for the parade’s last leg, we spied the Westboro Baptist crowd, a small clutch of people from the infamously homophobic Kansas church that turns up each year. And something marvelous happened. We began to rejoice! Those on the sidelines added to our chorus. The roar that went up overpowered the invective hurled our way through Westboro’s loudspeakers. Not one hateful word could be heard.

Last night, as I reflected on the event, it occurred to me that we witnessed exactly what David writes about in Psalm 27. We saw our adversaries stumble and fall. And there was an important lesson in that, I think. When we embrace God as our light and salvation—as the very stronghold of our lives—we have nothing to fear. There is no reason to suppress our joy and confidence. In fact, facing those who would denigrate our making and beliefs is cause for joy. It incites rejoicing that we are free from gnawing hatred and hollow piety. We are at peace with our God, our neighbors, and ourselves, And out of that realization flows rivers of joy that drown out those who condemn us—especially those who, like the Westboro folks, go out of their way to diminish the wonder of our making.

Our joyful antidote to the bilious attacks was the last hurrah for this year’s parade. No doubt there will be repeat engagements at future marches. Yet our number will continue to increase, and with it our joy. We will rejoice even more vibrantly in the coming years—not to prove a point, but because joy is the point. As I closed the chapter on 2012 Pride, it struck me that this year’s parade ended just as it began. Our service preceding the march closed as the choir sent us out with the “Everybody Rejoice” chorus from The Wiz:

Can you feel a brand new day!
Can you feel a brand new day!

“They shall stumble and fall,” David reminds us. And on we march, into the light, salvation, and stronghold of God’s new day.

The Chicago Coalition of Welcoming Churches prepares to step off at this year’s Pride Parade.

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