Ho, everyone who thirsts

I love Isaiah. The poetry, the fear, the anger, the hope. I’ve never attempted to queer the book, and to be honest I typically read it with an agrarian lens. But there’s something different this time.

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.

Isaiah 55:1

How many times have you been told you are welcome, even though you aren’t truly seen? As a nonbinary person I get it all the time. Come to the banquet but hear gendered language. Feast on the harvest but we’ll put you into a binary. All are welcome but you’ll have to use a gendered restroom. The church is expert at gaslighting.

Yet there’s something different about this Isaiah reading. It’s not just those with means who are gathered. It’s not just those who match a binary, it’s not just those who have the right resources, it’s not just those who fit into the patriarchy. Here, all of God’s people are called into a new community.

It begs the question: who are we excluding? Queer folks carry the weight of this burden too often. Since the ELCA tends to be on the progressive side, I fear we often let ourselves off the hook: we allow queer clergy, so we’ve done all the necessary work.

Bullshit.

We needn’t look far to see the ways that we exclude queer people from our communities. And maybe that’s why I’m hearing these words from Isaiah differently this time. Maybe Isaiah is calling us to open our eyes and hearts to that new community.

What might it be like, my dear queers, if all people were included? And I don’t mean the standard “All are welcome” that church websites regurgitate. But truly included.

Regardless of who we are, who we love, how we present — queer folks have a deep and longing thirst. And too often we end up being excluded from that spring of living water. But this week, Isaiah is sure to welcome all of us — especially those exiled to the margins of society — to eat and drink without price.

There is no sacrificing our identities. There is no hiding parts of ourselves. There is no “fitting in.” For God calls us just as we are into her warm embrace, and fills us with delight.

“Listen, so that you may live,” Isaiah proclaims. May it be so.

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