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On the curb

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A Latino gay man, a minister, an elected official and a Muslim woman encounter each other on a rainy night as we watch for a rainbow.

Today’s texts – Psalm 25: 1-10 and Luke 10: 25-27

Pastor Phil
Pastor Phil

Miguel was young, Latino, gay. He had just had a delightful happy hour at a local gay bar and was heading home as darkness was settling in on this warm summer night. It was raining a bit, but it really did not matter. Even though the water was soaking through his brightly colored gay-pride tee-shirt, he know he could dry out when he got home.

A couple of guys were coming towards him on the sidewalk. They looked at each other and nodded.

“Hey, queer, go back where you came from. Faggots like you don’t belong in our country.”

Miguel looked down and kept walking past them. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain on the back of his head and crumpled to the ground. Then he felt a sharp object piece his side and could feel warm blood starting to flow out onto the sidewalk. He felt the hand of one of the men grabbing his wallet as they ran off into the night laughing.

The raindrops bounced off his face. His eyes were closed as he grimaced in pain. His mind was swirling with words, images, fear.

samaritanAnd then he heard footsteps. A Christian minister was walking down the sidewalk. Fortunately, he had a Bible on his smart phone, so he stopped by Miguel and opened up the Bible app.

“You have sinned in so many ways,” the minister began. You have violated the laws of Leviticus. You have ignored the injunctions of Paul. But there is still time for you to repent, for you to be saved from your wickedness.”

And he began to read a Psalm.

“Fools say in their heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt. They commit abominable acts; there is no one who does good…They have all fallen away; they are all alike perverse. There is no one who does good, not one…God will scatter the bones of the ungodly; they will be put to shame, for God has rejected them.”

The minister looked at Miguel and shook his head.

“While you still have breath, there is time to repent. Ask for God’s forgiveness that you might be saved.”

The minister looked at the time on his phone. He was already late for Bible study, so he hurried on, shaking his head at the prospect of another lost soul.

The rain was falling a bit harder now, the water mixing with Miguel’s blood on the sidewalk. He could feel consciousness fading in and out. If only someone could help him.

An elected official came by and looked on in shock and horror.

He assumed Miguel must be homeless. He obviously was an illegal immigrant, given his Latino appearance. If he stopped to help, it might look to voters like he favored aid to the poor and amnesty for the undocumented.

He quickly stepped off the curb and went to the other side of the street. He silently offered a prayer for the suffering man. Thankfully, he would not be late for his fund-raiser at the five-star hotel down the street.

Since the elected official had said nothing, Miguel was barely aware he had passed by. But the pain was increasing. He moaned, then managed to cry out “help,” hoping the words would not be drowned out by the rain.

Good-SamaritanAcross the street, a Muslim woman was walking home from work, tired at the end of the day, hurrying to avoid getting too soaked by the rain. She thought she heard a man’s voice, a voice that suggested some sort of distress.

She looked across the street and saw Miguel lying at the edge of the sidewalk under the streetlight. She caught a glimpse of red on the ground.

She hurried over to see if she could help. He was lying on his back, blood on his side, matting up on the gay pride tee-shirt. She looked at his face, she looked at the shirt, she looked at the blood, conflicting thoughts swirling through her mind.

She knew that within the Islamic faith, a majority of scholars consider homosexuality to be a sin. She knew that in nine Muslim-ruled nations, homosexual activity can be punished with death. She knew that the Qur’an includes the story of the people of Lot being destroyed by the wrath of Allah for homosexual behavior.

She knew all that as she looked at this young Latino man bleeding on the curb.

But she also knew that as in Christianity and Judaism, there were new understandings of sexuality in Islam. She knew there was a growing acceptance among Muslims in this country – and indeed in many Muslim majority nations. In fact, in 20 Muslim-majority nations, homosexual acts were legal, even if their morality was still being debated. She knew the world was changing.

She also remembered what Nihad Awad had said last month after the massacre of gays at a nightclub in Orlando. He spoke as the executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations when he said that “homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia interconnected systems of oppression.”

She knelt down next to the man and said, “I am here. I will try to help”

She reached up and took the end of her hijab and pressed the beautiful cloth to the knife wound. She held that with one hand while pulling out her cell phone and dialing 9-1-1. She kept gently talking to the man, telling him help was on the way, urging him to hang on.

Miguel looked up at her and smiled a bit through the pain. “Thank you,” he whispered.
ambulanceThe ambulance came and the paramedics began treating the man. As they were putting him in the ambulance, the woman asked if she could accompany the man to the hospital.

Later, as he was resting in his room at the hospital, the wound cared for, fresh blood flowing through his body, she prepared to leave. She wished him well. He thanked her for her care. And then he asked why she took the chance of stopping to help him when others had passed him by.

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I saw a fellow human being in trouble. And then, I’m ashamed to say, I paused for a moment. I saw your tee-shirt and assumed that you were gay. And in my religion, that can be a problem. But I also know that our shared humanity is more important.

“I thought of people I know who are gay. I thought of a co-worker who is trans. I remembered my relatives who came to this country from another nation. And I remembered that my religion teaches compassion. I knew I could not walk away.”

Miguel thanked her again. He talked about stories from his faith tradition about unlikely neighbors. And he wished her well.

It was early morning by the time she left the hospital. The sun was up in the sky just a bit. The rain was ending. She looked up at the rainbow arcing across the sky. She got in a cab and headed home.

We ended the time of reflection with a trans youth singing “True Colors” by Cindi Lauper. Here is a video of Cindi Lauper singing it.