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Living In Abundance

Community United Church of Christ / Boulder CO

Rev. Nicole Garcia / June 30, 2024

Happy Pride!! I am thrilled and honored to be with the congregation of Community UCC this morning. According to my calendar, the last time I was with you was in January of 2022.

It’s been a few days, so I am thrilled to be back.

Today Boulder Pride is happening in downtown Boulder.

I suspect I have been invited to deliver the message today because of my complex identity as the first queer transgender Latina to be ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the ELCA. It’s important to be here today for when I came out in 2003, there were very few trans role models and even fewer trans people of faith in leadership positions.

A lot has changed since 2003 and there is still so much work to do, but we have to take time to celebrate all that has been accomplished.

I must fully disclose the fact that I am the vice-president of the board of Rocky Mountain

Equality, formerly known as Out Boulder County. If you head to the Boulder Pride festival in

downtown after service, you will hear me speak at about 1pm about how Out Boulder County outgrew our name and rebranded as Rocky Mountain Equality. There is a need in all of Colorado for the LGBTQ programs and advocacy undertaken by the incredible staff of Rocky Mountain Equality. We had to change our name to reflect the abundance of God’s creation.

What do you think of my clever segue to abundance and the “Wedding at Cana”.

I have to admit I like preaching at UCC churches because I am usually given the opportunity to select the readings for the day. We Lutherans tend to use the Revised Common Lectionary, so I preach a lot based on preselected readings, which is fine. I’ve preached from that lectionary for more years than I will admit, but I like having a choice now and then.

So why the “Wedding at Cana” for Pride Sunday? Because so many of the arguments I hear

about giving “them” rights means there won’t be enough for us. That is the theology of scarcity.

It sounds like…

If two men or two women marry each other, marriage means less.

If immigrants are allowed into the country, there won’t be a job for you.

If a trans person uses a bathroom, people could be in danger.

Honestly, a trans person has never been convicted of any crime in a bathroom.

You are in more danger if there is a congressperson in the bathroom, but I digress.

The arguments used against the Queer community are based in fear.

They are variations of the same arguments used for centuries in order to control and manipulate people so the dominate power structures can retain their power.

I believe in a theology of abundance and abundance starts in the Gospel of John.

What I love about the Wedding at Cana is that the story takes place in the second chapter of the Gospel of John and it is the first sign performed by Jesus. The first indication of the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth is one of abundance.

The mother of Jesus tells her son there is no more wine.

Jesus replies, Woman, what concern is that to me and to you?

My hour has not yet come I admit, the mischievous part of me thinks Jesus said something more like, Ma, I just want to hang out with my friends.

It’s not my fault they didn’t have a decent party planner

Luckily, I’m Lutheran, so grace abounds.

Anyway, the mother of Jesus turns to the servants and says,

Do whatever he tells you.

Six huge jars are filled with water and Jesus turns around 180 gallons of water into wine. That’s about 900 bottles of the best wine.

For a long time, I thought this lesson was telling me that if I ask God for what I want, I will get it in abundance. But when I read this story closely, no one asked Jesus for more wine.

The text reads, Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.

When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him,

“They have no wine.”

The inept party planner didn’t ask Jesus or his mother to provide more wine. The mother of Jesus made a statement, not a request. It was Jesus who made the decision and he provided what was needed.

As I was wrestling with the idea that Jesus will give us what we need, not necessarily what we

want, I happened to read 1 Corinthians chapter 12 in one of my daily devotions.

As Paul wrote in verse 13 from our reading this morning,

For in the one Spirit we were baptized into one body

That is the heart of the message Paul wrote to the Corinthians.

In fact, Paul addresses an issue most pastors would like to have—too many people are

volunteering their talents and there is a competition between the people as to who is doing the most for the fledgling community.

As human beings, each of us wants to be noticed. Each of us wants to be lifted up for something special or something different or something unique and we want to be told what we do is better than what anyone else can do. But in first Corinthians, Paul is telling us that each of us has been given something special by the Holy Spirit and that something special must be used for the good of the community. Each one of us is special for we are all made in the image of God.

We are all made in the infinite love of God and the gifts that have been bestowed upon us by the Holy Spirit have to be shared so that we can all thrive.

It took a long time to recognize the gifts the Holy Spirit bestowed upon me.

I spent 16 years in law enforcement and the majority of that time I tried so hard to prove that I was a man, but I failed miserably. It took a lot of time and prayer, a couple of really good

therapists and support groups to help me realize I've always been Nicole and I had to live into being Nicole in order to be happy.

I have been told I am a good preacher, teacher, and listener. Attributes that work well for a pastor and therapist. I can read a financial statement, but don’t ever ask me to create one. Don’t ever ask me to fix anything or ask me for directions. I definitely don’t speak in tongues. There are so many things that I can't do and I give thanks to God that there are people who can do the things I cannot do. We need each other.

Once I began living as Nicole, the Lord God gave me what I needed to live in abundance, but not the abundance I thought I wanted, but the abundance I needed. I am not rich, but I have a home, a car, and food in my fridge. So no, my abundance isn’t measured by what is in my bank account. My abundance are the people in my life. I have a church where everyone knows my name. I have friends across the country because I have been given opportunities to travel and speak and teach in cities across the United States. I have family who makes sure I know I am loved.

My question for each of you is this: Where do you find abundance in your life?

I mentioned earlier in my talk that I believe the gifts bestowed upon me by the Holy Spirit are those of preaching, teaching, and listening. What gifts of the Spirit do you have?

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