Open to Wonder

By DeWayne L. Davis

Published July 7, 2023

In This Week at Plymouth

“A people must be encouraged to celebrate not in spite of who they are, but because of who their Creator has made them.” —Bishop Yvette Flunder.


On the first full day in Atlanta for the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Convocation (TFAM), when I took a rideshare back to my hotel from lunch, the driver asked me if I was visiting. I told them I was a minister attending a church conference. The driver immediately replied, “I am so glad someone holy is here. It was Sodom and Gomorrah here last month with all that Pride stuff. I’m a person of faith, too.” Then the driver launched into a diatribe about how their LGBTQ passengers were dressed and how disgusted they made them feel. I didn’t want to get into a debate, so I replied, “Be careful who you call holy or unholy. Let God handle it.” We rode in silence afterward.


How did we get to the place in Christian witness and discipleship where we heap condemnation and persecution on others? Jesus neither condemned nor persecuted anyone. Did we get it from the Apostle Paul? After all, he persecuted Christians before his encounter with Jesus. Did Paul reject persecution after his conversion and new life as a follower of Jesus? Or was persecution acceptable as long as it was the right people being persecuted? Ironically, the attitude and religious opprobrium my driver felt so comfortable articulating about LGBTQ people was why the conference I’m attending was created. Too many LGBTQ people of faith experience religious rejection and abuse by their homes and churches. TFAM is a witness to the radically inclusive love of God for all people and affirms and celebrates all God’s children from every tradition and experience.


I confess that I was a little hurt by the behavior and reaction of my driver to their LGBTQ customers. They evinced no curiosity about the people they served nor demonstrated any regard for their dignity. As that experience continued to vex my spirit, I heard the theologian Keri Day exhort people of faith to embrace “a posture and theological grammar of wonder,” whereby we allow our desires and expectations to be interrupted by God’s unfolding movement in our midst. What would it look like if we were curious about the people who anger, annoy, frighten, or make us uncomfortable rather than rejecting or lashing out at them? What kind of beloved community could we create if we insisted first on joy, hope, and hospitality when meeting strangers? How much would change if we allowed time to sit with the strange and the unanticipated? I am blessed that the welcome and embrace I felt at the conference overwhelmed the intolerant perspective of that driver. And now, I’m opening myself to wonder, trying to have the humility to let God reveal God’s self to me in the strangers and neighbors I encounter. God, in your mercy.