Embracing Everyone Everywhere – God’s Inclusive Love in Joplin, MO

by Helene Swanson

It seems like there are not enough hours in the day but in God’s Time where we all live in peace and harmony there is Eternity. Eternity, a concept that Einstein attempted to define which his Theory of Relativity, a concept as a young scientist I pondered when I worked at the Mercury Test Site in 1978 under the Department of Energy and Reynold’s Electrical Engineering Company’s Summer Science Student Program, a concept I play with when I find my asking if not now God, then when? When will we on this ball of dust lay down the sword and pick up the plough and plant seeds of Love and Light in Christ.

Helene's FeetHelene Swanson’s Feet. Photo Credit:  Captured by Helene Swanson from News Broadcast footage

Ahh… but there I go again getting lost in thought as I often do. This is post on God’s Inclusive Love that I promised myself I would write weeks ago as I left Joplin, MO. So guess I should stay on track as the trains that whistle by remind me that I to must stay on track. For several days now I have been thinking of that last night in Joplin, MO. I have been juggling my understanding of inter-faith relationships, ethnicity, individual background, culturation, nurture versus nature, and just how closely the treatment of our friends who are LBGTQ mirrors the treatment of women around the globe.

Not being a learned theologian but working on it I regularly turn to my dear friend, Spiritual Director and fellow Katrina’s Dream board member, Rev. Kathryn A. Piccard. She is always there to help me along as I come to understand scripture and just how inclusive it is. I had been experimenting with my “talk” since leaving the Oklahoma City, which surprisingly and to my delight had a LBGTQ neighborhood. Upon arrival in Tulsa, OK I met a Martin and Juantia Mayberry, who were initially thrilled to meet a fellow Christian on a pilgrimage, but upon learning I had no desire to promote homosexuality as a sin but instead felt that God made everyone just they way they are imperfect perfect – in short unique – they decided I was misled Christian and challenged my belief system. (We are friends on Facebook and I enjoy thier posts as we move forward by dialoguing). So natural as I often do it was a call to Rev. Kathryn for a review of scripture and God Inclusive Love. Kathryn patiently went over the scripture again and shot off an email to me of her Sermon on the Ethopian Eunuch, little did I know just how important this sermon was going to be in the days ahead in Joplin, MO.

10703956_10204515748724150_7234191634138676432_oMartin Mayberry, Helene Swanson and Juanita Mayberry enjoy a moment at Starbucks in Tulsa, OK.

I had a great time in Joplin, I met amazing people, like Seattle Charlie the worlds most literate hobo, and Elisabeth Earhart who opened up her heart to me, and I met a group of young men at McDonald’s who recognized me from a the local news broadcast in which Reporter Felicia Lawrence interviewed me regarding my quest for Equality for All. I felt a little bit like Socrates speaking to these young people as they hovered around me asking one question after another, “Why are you walking? … Do you believe in Jesus?” Where do you sleep? What is the Equal Rights Amendment?” And then the zinger, “Wait, are you saying that you believe that God is ok with Gays?” We spoke for several hours. And dear Connor Badgley the first lad to approach me concerned for my well being who continually texted his pastor begging that he help me with lodging for the night. So out came Kathryn’s sermon – they listened intensely – the whole restaurant hovered around me. As I was finishing up reading her sermon Pastor Joe came in and announced that he and his wife had reserved a room for me at the local Motel 6. I gladly accepted this most generous offer, as I had not showered in about week and half. I said my good-byes having fronded many on Facebook urging they to say in touch. I must admit I felt horrible getting in car I smelt so terrible. But it didn’t’ seem to phase dear Pastor Joe who said he had a gift for me and presented me a cupcake from the dinner he attended where Sarah Palin had spoken. I asked what he thought of Kathryn’s sermon and invited them to check out the Just Words? and he said it had given him much to think about and that he was going to give this week’s sermon considerable thought –I was floored.

10709629_775657585809475_1244850499_o-1Allen Mitchell, Helene Swanson, Tyler Sprouls take a moment at McDonald’s where Helene spoke to a group of youths regarding the Pilgriamge for the Equal Rights Amendment and God’s Inclusive Love.  Photo Credit” PIlgrimage Supporter

When we arrived at the motel and the lads were taking my things upstairs for me. I asked Pastor Joe for a blessing for the pilgrimage for the Equal Rights Amendment. The lads stopped dead in their tracts to hear his response and as he laid his hands on me to bless me they turned their backs and I noticed their steps were a little more spirited.

Indeed, God works in mysterious ways.