Week 2 Lenten Devotion 
by Antony Larry

Well to say it's been a rough couple of weeks in the UMC is an understatement.  Who would have ever thought that three little letters would alienate and hurt so many people? As an LGBTQ+ person, I have found deep hurt in these letters: UMC. These letters have carried me throughout my life and helped shaped me into the person I am today. From the tragic death of my parents to the day I publicly began to admit that I was indeed gay, those letters were there with me. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been so much pain, harmful words said, hate spewed in the name of The Church. It has left myself and many others in pain.

As I searched for answers to why all this was happening, I began re-reading a book that gave me a better understanding of The Trinity. Many of you have read the book "The Shack". This quote from one of the chapters really stood out to me and was spoken by the God character "So no, I'm not too big on religion...and not very fond of politics or economics either...And why should I be? They are the man-created trinity of terrors that ravages the earth and deceives those I care about. What mental turmoil and anxiety does any human face that is not related to one of those three?".

That's it! Religion has caused so much pain and turmoil in our world. Religion has caused wars, riots, killing of innocent people. Religion! Not God. So often during this "battle" for those letters(UMC), I've cried out these words from Psalms 27:7-9 "Listen, God, I'm calling at the top of my lungs:

    "Be good to me! Answer me!"
When my heart whispered, "Seek God,"
 my whole being replied,
"I'm seeking him!"
  Don't hide from me now!"

The question is who was I yelling these words to? Was I yelling them to God or to a denomination?

 When we turn our eyes away from something that is man-made and turn our eyes on The One who said "Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and Love your neighbor as yourself, then we can begin to show true love for all people.

Let us remember that the UMC is not GOD. LOVE is GOD. STANDING UP TO EVIL AND INJUSTICE is of GOD. BUILDING PEACE is of GOD.

As we continue to fight injustice together, remember these words from 1 John 4, "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them".

Thanks be to God for unending love, amazing grace, and Jesus' example of radical justice. 

By Antony Larry. Antony is a Worship Leader and Associate Director of Youth Ministries and Worship Engagement at St. Luke's UMC in Orlando, FL. Antony serves as the Vice Chair of the Florida Regional Office of MFSA and is a member of the National MFSA Program Council. Antony is an eternal justice seeker and seeks to show the love of Christ to all

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