Worship | Pride Sunday | June 19



The video above includes the full service, except for the time for sharing.

Permission to podcast/stream the music in this service obtained through One License with license A-727859.

Sermon: Bodied Biodiversity
Texts: John 20:24-29; Genesis 1:1-13
Speaker: Bethany Davey

I have the unique privilege of preaching on Juneteenth and Pride Sunday, both of
which celebrate and affirm collective liberation from colonial oppression. While
the work of liberation is ongoing, lifelong and absolutely collective, it is essential
that we take a breath, pause and celebrate those who have paved the way for these
days to become a possibility. Juneteenth and Pride Sunday are possible because
ancestors and generations of dreamers and activists dared to imagine a reality that
defied colonization, that defied empire.

Queerness, which we intentionally celebrate this month, defies empire. Queerness
is in direct opposition to the homogenous nature of colonialism that thrives within
white supremacist heteronormativity and favors Eurowhite, cisgender, heterosexual
ways of being. Were colonization to have its way, we would all be young, ablebodied,
white people adhering to the norms of heteronormative gender stereotypes;
not only would colonization have us be the same, it would have us be a very
specific kind of “same” so that it might perpetuate itself indefinitely.

We can see the dangers of same-ness beyond humanity, in the homogeny of
monocrops and monocultures. In order to sustain capitalism and factory farming,
forests are decimated to plant field upon field upon field of soy, corn and other
singular crops over and over and over again. What may have begun as a vision for
feeding the masses instead contributes to the starvation of humans, the extinction
of non-human animals and species and the starvation of the land; the Earth cannot
sustain the monocultures associated with farming at this scale. The soil becomes
imbalanced and depleted, void of the essential nutrients that diverse biotic life
provide. To insist on sameness—even sameness with a sprinkle of “something
else”—means that the land cannot sustain the crop, and the crop cannot participate
in life’s cyclical existence, providing for those in its biotic community. The crop
may survive, but it will not thrive. As the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and other
indigenous peoples have demonstrated, a rotating variety of crops must co-exist in
order to sustain vitality and to co-create rich, nutritive soil. Sometimes called the
Three Sisters, corn, beans and squash were and are grown alongside one another,
which benefits the health of the crops, the soil and the bodies that enjoy these
complementary foods. Biodiversity is needed for such reciprocal thriving and

And God saw that it was good…

Biodiversity extends beyond the land, and permeates our human ways of being.
However, biodiversity is not a superficial call for diversity, equity and inclusion. It
is not a call for increased representation of underamplified voices merely for
diversity’s sake. Rather, biodiversity among humans means that not only are each
one of us integral to life’s interconnected web, but each of us—as our full and
flourishing selves—are needed. When our individual full and flourishing
uniqueness can blossom, so can the full and flourishing uniqueness of the
community. And when full and flourishing communal uniqueness can bloom, so
can that of the individual. We exist in what Brazilian ecofeminist theologian Ivone
Gebara calls relatedness: we are inextricably connected to all that is, and to one
another. As she says, “We are, fundamentally, relatedness.”2 If we are indeed
relatedness, what affects one invariably affects the whole, and what affects the
whole affects the one. And as such, our sacred pursuits for liberation are not for a
distant “other,” they are for me, for you, for all.

And God saw that it was good…

While the story of Thomas from today’s passage in John has often been used to
demonstrate the importance of faith that does not insist upon proof, I gravitate
toward a different emphasis, one that I received from Father Shannon Kearns of
Queer Theology and others: a resurrected Jesus 3 reveals himself to his dearest
people, his disciples, with his scars. I’ve long resonated with Thomas, and feel
badly that his doubtful reputation originates from his curiosity and skepticism;
were I present in that room, I feel certain I would have suspected an interloper. I
feel certain I would have felt I was protecting the group, and the legacy of Jesus,
by insisting upon a bit of concrete evidence to support what is, quite frankly, an
unbelievable claim. I like Thomas and I feel a deep kinship with him across the
divide of time. This story makes me want to holler, “Isn’t Jesus big enough for the
questions? Isn’t there room for uncertainty, wariness and doubt?” I believe that
there is.

And God saw that it was good…

Beyond my sense of connectedness with woeful, doubting Thomas, the reality that
strikes me as even more profound is that of an embodied Jesus who has retained
his scars, who has maintained his bodied humanness, who has demonstrated—as
my fellow theological student, Missy, likes to say—his fleshiness. If Jesus’
resurrection exists within a very human, scarred body, this demonstrates a
commitment to the bodied, fleshy realities of life. This demonstrates that Jesus is
entwined in human, bodied existence, within the body of the Earth and all its biotic
and abiotic life. This demonstrates that, as Father Shannon Kearns says, bodies
matter, defying the dualistic 4 mind-body separation perpetuated by modern
Christianity. If bodies matter, my body matters, your body matters, our collective
body matters, the Earth body matters. And, that mattering implies a kin-dom of
God that is not for later. It is for now, in our bodied, fleshy, present reality.

And God saw that it was good…

Queerness is bodied and fleshy—a reality of biotic life from which we cannot
disassociate, though colonial religious institutions try to steal its breath. Could it be
that instead of divorcing ourselves from the vibrancy of our queerness, Jesus
instead offers an integrated path through which we can deeply connect with our
bodies? Jesus, in his scarred human flesh, offers a way of being in which we live
fully, freely and wholly in our bodies, a path in which healing the great mind-body
divide is possible and our scars maintain our stories. This is a path on which we are
deeply connected to our relatedness with all that is—with our own bodies, the
bodies of all others, the body of the Earth. In this enfleshed, queer reality, I
imagine thriving. I imagine color, creativity, life, movement, vibrance. I imagine a
refusal of coloniality, a refusal to squeeze the self or the collective into a stifling
Box of Same-ness. I imagine fullness of self. I imagine biodiversity.

And God saw that it was good…

I am in recovery from a fundamentalist upbringing in which I inherited teachings
of original sin, and thus, original depravity. My humanity, my body, was not to be
trusted and was irredeemable without Jesus, without God. I sense an antidote, in a
concept offered by a beloved professor: original goodness. Inspired by the
Buddhist teachings and practices of Pema Chödrön and others, ecofeminist
theology professor, Dr. Elaine Nogueira-Godsey, asks of the students in her
Introduction to Theology course, What does it mean if we are created not
originally in sin, but originally in goodness? For me, it changes everything.

And God saw that it was good…

If we are created in original goodness, I am good. My body is good. Our individual
and collective bodies are good, enfleshed in the divine and the divine enfleshed in
us. Through this lens, queerness becomes a bodied, vibrant way of being that defies
the parasitic energy of colonization, an energy that steals from all—oppressor and/
or the oppressed. For me, Pride Month, Pride Sunday and Juneteenth all celebrate
bodies. These designated moments in time celebrate bodies that are vivacious, full
of life and free to flourish in their divine fullness, because we know that our
collective wholeness relies upon both the nourishment of the whole and the
nourishment of the individual. “We are, fundamentally, relatedness.”5 Our
bountiful co-existence necessitates a biodiverse thriving in which all can flourish.

And God saw that it was good…

Can we imagine a garden sparkling with color, teeming with life, nourished by a
communal biodiversity in which all may thrive? What might that feel like? How
might that be?

And God saw that it was good…

Breath in, breath out.
Breath in, breath out.

May it be so.
And God sees that it is good…


1 “Three Sisters, A Planting Tradition,” Citizen Potawatomi Nation, March 13, 2014, https://www.potawatomi.org/

2 Ivone Gebara, Longing for Running Water (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999), 84.

3 Father Shannon Kearns, “Your Body is Good: A Resurrection Sermon,” Queer Theology, https://www.queertheology.com/your-body-is-good/.

4 Kearns, “Your Body is Good.”

5 Gebara, Longing for Running Water, 84.