Last weekend, I went to a concert. If you know my family, you know that this is not an unusual event. This was a little different. Honestly, I have tapped out of the multiple late night weekends in favor of my bathroom and pillow. It takes a great deal for me to be excited enough to brave the crowds and the drunks and the exhaustion. I know, I am old.
For months, I excitedly waited to see Panic! At The Disco. Lucas and AJ reported after multiple shows that Brendon Urie was worth the lost sleep. For the record. He was TOTALLY worth it. He can sing. He can entertain. He is so musically talented. Best of all, you can tell he is having a great time performing. But he does so much more. He draws you in. He welcomes you to have fun. He helps you believe that you are important.
I found myself in the middle of a room (well, a huge NBA arena) filled with difference. There were parents and children. There were teenagers and grandparents. There were single and not-so-single people. There were quiet voices and there were those that came to make a statement.
As each person came into the arena they found a colored paper heart on their chair. Every single person in the Toyota Center received a heart. Having not attended a Panic! show before, I was not familiar with this tradition, but it was started by fans on their 2017 tour and continues today. This completely volunteer based group, works to support inclusion and acceptance and the spirit behind a passion and outreach of Brendon himself. In Houston, the visual of the arena was stunning. If you want to see more than my goofy attempt at a picture, check out the history of the project and the images from Toyota Center here.
Brendon Urie is a prophet. Through his music, he is proclaiming the truth of love and acceptance that many in our world, particularly in our country, are not hearing today. He lives it out in his lyrics and with his life. He has long been supportive of the LGBTQ community, but this summer he took it a step further and placed his money where is mouth and heart and voice are. Brendon donated $1 million to GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) to help create GSA (Gender & Sexuality/Gay-Straight Alliance) clubs in high schools across America. This financial commitment helped launch this initiative.
“For years my fans have inspired me with their determination and creativity as they have created a safe and inclusive community,” the Panic! At the Disco singer said in a statement. “I felt the time had come for me to join them boldly, to bring that energy and power to bear on the huge challenges facing our whole society.” rollingstone.com
For those of you that started this blog read and assumed that I was church-girl speaking, perhaps you are now wondering where I derailed. Let me share with you the rest of this story. I was attending the Panic! concert with two teenagers that listen to their pastoral parents proclaim hope and truth all the days. As I was raising my yellow heart in the air, a wave of guilt and sting washed over me. There, in the midst of thousands of people, I felt ashamed and convicted. Not for the reasons that many have wanted me to, but for my contribution to the divide that stands between churches and stadiums like this one across the world.
I literally had a ‘pastor moment’ – as my kids call it – right there on the floor of Toyota Center. I reached over and put my arm around my daughter. I pulled her close and over the loud singing, I shared my heart. “This is the call of your generation. It is my prayer that you and those that come after you will lay down your lives to make the Church relevant and welcoming to everyone in this room.”
I had tears.
Of course, she was not in the mood for Pastor Mommy, but she got the point. And she hears it daily from me and Jesus loving people all around her. I beat the drum daily that a bigger, more welcoming, more inclusive and listening community should be the compass that points the Church into the future. We have so much ground to cover. We have so many conversations that we must LISTEN through. We have so many broken hearts that are calling us to repentance and change.
So let me end with this. I am sorry. I am sorry for the ways that I have closed doors and tuned out and disconnected when things got hard. I’m sorry for the times that I have taken the easier road when I should have walked down the hard and right one in the name of justice. I’m sorry for this times that I have been invited into sacred space to grow and share and love and I was too scared to go because what would happen if…
I went to church that night at Panic!. I have not been that Spirit filled in a long time. Jesus met me there and I am thankful. And I’m so very thankful for the colored hearts that made a rainbow over the Toyota Center remind me today that the promises of God are the same for all.