Let me start by offering our yearly reminder that the original Pride Parade was not a parade but a march to commemorate the riots that broke out in response to police brutality against the queer community. This year will be the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. As we wave our rainbow flags and celebrate the advances that have been made toward greater justice for queer people, we should never forget those roots and how they compel us to continue to work for justice alongside the most vulnerable and oppressed among our communities.
And for the Church (captial “C”), presence and participation in spaces like the Pride Parade should be grounded with an awareness of the history of how faith communities have long been at the forefront of the oppression of queer people. Even if our specific congregation has worked toward justice and made strong commitments to blessing and being blessed by queer people, holding this wider context in view can allow us to do this work in a way that dismantles that legacy without trying to erase or gloss over it.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead the Connecting Families retreat, and one of the guiding questions that shaped my presentation was, “How could the Church be transformed if it practiced the kind of love that didn’t simply affirm queer people but insisted on learning from them?” It’s a question with lots of different answers that shoot off in lots of different directions, but it’s a question that continues to inspire me as I think about my own faith.
During that retreat, I had participants read together and meditate on the Rainbow Christ Prayer written by Kittredge Cherry and Patrick Cheng. The prayer connects the colors of the rainbow Pride flag with different aspects of Christ’s identity and names how those ways of understanding Christ intersect with different aspects of queer experience. For instance, the prayer calls on the “Transgressive Outlaw Christ” to empower us to follow the example of being willing to break rules for the sake of love.
Yes, on the face of it, it sounds a little silly, and we joked about “rainbow Jesus” during the retreat. But what I like about the prayer is that it names many different aspects of who Christ is as a way of showing how the salvation Christ offers is a fully embodied experience that transforms not just our hearts but all the ways we live and move and interact with the world. While it was written by (and largely for) queer people, I believe it calls us to faith in Christ in a way that all people need to hear.
You can read the full text of the prayer at the link above, but I’m including below a much shorter version that was released by the authors. I invite you to read the prayer (either version) and consider the ways you are being called by Christ to a fully embodied practice of love for yourself, for others, and for all of creation.
Rainbow Christ Prayer (short version)
Written by Kittredge Cherry and Patrick Cheng
Rainbow Christ, you embody all the colors of the world. Inspire us to celebrate each color of the rainbow!
Red gives us life. Self-Loving Christ, you are our Root.
Orange stirs our passion. Erotic Christ, you are our Fire.
Yellow awakens our courage. Out Christ, you are our Core.
Green moves us to love. Transgressive Christ, you are our Heart.
Blue frees us to speak. Liberator Christ, you are our Voice.
Violet clears our vision. Interconnected Christ, you are our Wisdom.
The colors of the rainbow are distinct, but they all shine together to make one light. Hybrid Christ, you are our Crown.
Rainbow Christ, you are the light of the world. May the rainbow lead us to experience the whole spectrum of life! Amen.