A small still voice at Big Queer Carols
If you’ve never blogged before like myself, it’s difficult and uncertain to know what to write - where to start, what the tone should be and what people will be interested in. It’s like a small still voice trying to find the moment it’s supposed to speak in the break in a storm.
And being a relatively new member of OneBodyOneFaith, this was another first for me attending the 2023 Big Queer Carols, and I was looking forward to the celebration with people whose song I wanted to join in with in the season where we were waiting for the embodiment of Emanuel - and feeling God indeed was with us.
Being also a relatively new ‘home-comer’ to my true self, it’s been a lifetime since the still small voice nestled remotely in my depths took a breath to speak with the voice of one conscious of the intentionality that the Creator, who formed this queer life and all those around me on this afternoon, did so with the skill of perfect love.
This trip was another first for me, to Cambridge’s Wesley House. I was quietly intrigued by the welcome foyer, housing a suspended pew with an incomplete journal quote from John Wesley - “ I look upon all the world as my parish”, and knew this would be a place where hearts would be turning outwards to face a world in the image of the Word Made Flesh.
Opened by one of the most vulnerably honest and inclusive Eucharists I’ve attended, the event was blessed from the outset.
The gathering had everything a good Christmas celebration ought to - a good cuppa, mince pies, cheerful welcomes, and depth through provoking, honest and vulnerable presence which held in unity voices that spoke of common passion for God’s word, God’s work and God’s people.
The work of OneBodyOneFaith over the last year was presented by the leadership themselves; and sharing the anticipated trials, plans and the hopes of a coming year, there is evidently optimism built on solid foundations and connections which are set to reach far beyond our own backyard which will influence the root of institutions as globally as the Spirit will lead it. And it was good to see all the faces behind the scenes in their various roles as they were introduced, holding the space, with laughter and humour that brought a fresh breath to the gathering Christmas season.
Discussion and debate amongst the panel of awake minds and hearts explored and shared what it means today to be embodied children of God - from the unadulterated roots of indigenous connection and wisdom, to the conscious navigation of living in a historically influenced modern culture with opposition and affirmation of sexuality and cultures, and holding the Spirit’s work of enlarging the capacity to love, and behold love, as conscious Beings.
The evening finalised back in the chapel through a service woven with readings of Christmas and poems of poignant reflection, interjected by the timbrel of the organ and gifted voices, big and small, joined in singing glorious carols in a heart moving focus on the presence of Emanuel.
And within it all, the greatness of the music and voices in a place of God in the presence of Christ, a still small voice found the stillness of the triumph, and whispered back affirmation to God in trust of the wondrous creation made - of us.
In the presence of this honest, servant hearted preparation of the coming of the Word Made Flesh, here was the sign of God’s Kingdom at work, visible in the ‘here and now’. In all that Wesley could have spoken of as he looked out at his parish that was the whole world, no corners excluded, in the strength of faith, hope and charity, here I’m sure he would have recognised the completion of his quote that is installed in that entrance hall that OneBodyOneFaith embodies through all its leaders and members, and in the work it strives to do -
“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. This is the work which I know God has called me to; and sure I am that His blessing attends it.”
With thanks to all who crafted and delivered the logistics, liturgy, laughter and love of the 2023 Big Queer Carols.