Colors of the rainbow flag reveal the many faces of the queer Christ in the following Rainbow Christ Prayer by lesbian Christian author Kittredge Cherry and gay theologian Patrick S. Cheng.
Rainbow flags are flying around the world in June for LGBT Pride Month. Rainbows are also an important symbol in many religious traditions. The Rainbow Christ Prayer honors the spiritual values of the LGBT movement.
The prayer matches the colors of the rainbow flag with the seven models of the queer Christ from Patrick Cheng’s book “From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ.”
The prayer has been translated into 10 languages: Spanish, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Malay, Polish, Portuguese and Russian. More translations are underway.
Progressive Christians believe that homosexuality is not a sin. Scholars say that the Bible does not condemn loving same-sex relationships. Therefore churches should accept and affirm LGBT people. The Rainbow Christ Prayer grows out of the understanding that LGBT people are a natural part of God’s creation.
Let us pray…
Rainbow Christ, you embody all the colors of the world. Rainbows serve as bridges between different realms: heaven and earth, east and west, queer and non-queer. Inspire us to remember the values expressed in the rainbow flag of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Rainbow colors come together to make one light, the crown of universal consciousness. Hybrid and All-Encompassing Christ, you are our Crown, both human and divine. Free us from rigid categories and grant us the grace of interwoven identities. With the rainbow, lead us beyond black-and-white thinking to experience the whole spectrum of life.
Rainbow Christ, you light up the world. You make rainbows as a promise to support all life on earth. In the rainbow space, we can see all the hidden connections between sexualities, genders and races. Like the rainbow, may we embody all the colors of the world! Amen.
How people use the Rainbow Christ Prayer
People have adapted the prayer for a wide variety of settings, including a queer theology class in Dallas, a non-violence training in Pennsylvania, and a poetry reading in Los Angeles. It has been used as a blessing at Shabbat dinners, a meditation at yoga classes, and a wedding gift at a same-sex marriage. It has also been denounced as blasphemy by the hate group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.
Small needlepoint rainbow crosses were handed out with a short version of the Rainbow Christ Prayer in 2013 when Salem United Church of Christ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, hosted a training for the Silent Witness Peacekeepers Alliance. The Alliance helps the LGBT community have safe, peaceful gatherings by providing a non-confrontational buffer between protestors at Pride festivals and other events. A member of the Salem church stitched the rainbow crosses specifically to go with the Rainbow Christ Prayer for volunteers at the training.
The mini prayer cards, measuring only two inches high, adapts the prayer with new opening lines: “Rainbow Christ; You embody all the colors of the world. Rainbows stretch in order to connect diverse realms: Inspire us to stretch beyond boundaries so that we may embody the wonders born from the diversity which You created.”
Origins of the Rainbow Christ Prayer
I got the idea for the Rainbow Christ Prayer as I reflected on Patrick Cheng’s models of the queer Christ. Patrick and I each spent years developing the ideas expressed in the Rainbow Christ Prayer. It incorporates rainbow symbolism from queer culture, from Christian tradition and from the Buddhist/Hindu concept of chakras, the seven colored energy centers of the human body. The prayer is ideal for use when lighting candles in a rainbow candle holder.
The Rainbow Christ Prayer has been welcomed and used by many progressive Christian communities and denounced as blasphemy by conservatives at Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.)
I first wrote about linking the colors of the rainbow flag to queer spirituality in my 2009 reflection on Bridge of Light, a winter holiday honoring LGBT culture. Meanwhile Patrick was working on his models of the queer Christ based on LGBT experience. In 2010 he presented five models of the queer Christ in his essay “Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People” at the Jesus in Love Blog (and as a chapter in the book “Sexuality and the Sacred: Sources for Theological Reflection.”)
In a moment of inspiration I realized that Patrick’s various queer Christ models matched the colors of the rainbow flag. Patrick and I joined forces and the Rainbow Christ Prayer was born.
With wonderful synchronicity, Patrick had already added two more queer Christ models, so he now had seven models to match the seven principles from Bridge of Light. He wrote a detailed explanation of all seven models in his book “From Sin to Amazing Grace: Discovering the Queer Christ,” published in spring 2012 by Seabury Books. The following year Patrick authored “Rainbow Theology: Bridging Race, Sexuality, and Spirit.”
For more on the history and meaning of the rainbow flag, see my Huffington Post article Rainbow Christ Prayer honors LGBT spirituality.
Gay spirituality author Joe Perez helped lay the groundwork for this prayer in 2004 when he founded the interfaith and omni-denominational winter ritual known as Bridge of Light. People celebrate Bridge of Light by lighting candles, one for every color of the rainbow flag. Each color corresponds to a universal spiritual principle that is expressed in LGBT history and culture. I worked with Joe to revise the Bridge of Light guidelines based on my on own meditations on the chakras and their connections to the colors of the rainbow flag.
The symbolism of the rainbow resonates far beyond the LGBT flag. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the rainbow stands for God’s promise to support all life on earth. It plays an important role in the story of Noah’s Ark. After the flood, God places a rainbow in the sky, saying, “Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:15-16). In the Book of Revelation, a rainbow encircles the throne of Christ in heaven.
Image credit: “Stained-glass Rainbow Flag with Cross (Baner enfys gwydr lliw gyda Chroes)” by Andrew Craig Williams
Links related to the Rainbow Christ Prayer
Rainbow Christ Prayer at Huffington Post
Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People by Patrick Cheng (Jesus in Love)
This post is part of the LGBTQ Calendar series by Kittredge Cherry. The series celebrates religious and spiritual holidays, events in LGBTQ history, holy days, feast days, festivals, anniversaries, liturgical seasons and other occasions of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people of faith and our allies.
Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Qspirit.net presents the Jesus in Love Blog on LGBTQ spirituality.