Whenever I have organized a National Coming Out Day service, like we are leading tomorrow, my mind drifts, like in a prayerful dreamlike status towards the face of two people. These two faces are etched into the cortex of my being, but any details of their faces are foggy and distant as they have been etched over by metaphor of meanings.

My first face is that of a young lad in his late teens or early 20s standing with two of his friends watching the Pride Parade in Long Beach. As our group marched by, a diverse of people, young and old, with same-sex parents with their children, holding a sign which said “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” I was waving to people in the crowed when my eyes locked upon a face which was deeply touched. I could see that he was emotionally moved; something in his inner being tugged at his heart, and he was almost brought to tears. For a few moments we communicated, though not a word was spoken. Trying to remain anonymous amongst his friends talking and laughing, he sheepishly raised his hand to his chest, and cupping his hand, gave us a tender simple wave. Was it a wave hello or a wave of good-bye, or a wave of thank you? I will never know, but this face, and what transpired is forefront in my mind each and every year I begin to plan our service.

The second face is that of a women sitting in the parking lot of St. Wilfrid’s church, the very first National Coming Out celebration service. As people were making their way to the chapel, volunteers standing out front welcoming those in attendance, came across this lone being sitting in her car. She did not move, she did not get out of her car….she merely sat motionless. Concerned, we asked her if she needed anything, she said no. We offered her some water, she declined. She stayed in the car, and we left to begin the service. When the service was over her parking space was empty. Did it take all her courage to drive to the service, was this her personal coming out epiphany, or was this act of driving into the church parking lot her first step towards reconciling herself with her true authentic being and her relationship with God? Whatever her reason, her’s is the muted face of fear, taking small steps, and the courage to walk a new path.

These two faces, with all their fullness held within the centrality of my being, demand the church demonstrate love, and celebrate each and every person’s uniqueness. These two faces are two reasons I proclaim the Gospel on Sundays, and two reasons why on Sunday night, after the Prayers of the People, I will stand and say:

We meet tonight as women and men: sexual and whole, human and flawed — we are church.

In our humanity we bring our desire: for relationship with God, for relationship with others — we are church.

We bring our difference and diversity and celebrate them — we are church.