I made the decision to attend in my rainbow dog collar, to be a present reminder of the countless LGBT Christians who exist in our churches all over the world, who don't have a voice, who are silent for fear of judgement or exclusion, or who are known to be LGBT, but asked to hide themselves, lest it be an embarrassment to the Church or draw attention to themselves (so much for 'come as you are'!).
I didn't make the decision to attend in my rainbow collar easily; I was aware that some may see it as campaigning during what should be a spiritual moment. I did it, though, because we come as ourselves, and can't separate out the bits that other people find less offensive, and because I thought that the LGBT community is so often silenced by others in churches, it could help someone else who was present that may be feeling disenfranchised and distanced.
|On my way to the Chrism Eucharist, in rainbow dog collar.|
At the service, it was noticed by some of the clergy around me, who said they loved it, and a couple of young mums behind me, who said that they loved it as well, and what it stood for. Others either didn't notice, or chose not to comment.
I've been reflecting on the Easter message this year, and I've been identifying a lot more with it than in previous years. It's struck me that there is much in the Easter story that the LGBT community can identify with ... hidden identities, expectation to conform, being outside the acceptable institution, and finally - the journey from being welcomed to being vilified, rejected & hated (& in too many cases, pursued & sentenced to death).
It strikes me as interesting that people lean heavily on the "clobber verses" against homosexuality (many of them in chapters that also condemn other behaviour they overlook), but yet Jesus said nothing about the matter ... He did, however, have a lot to say about religious zealotry. Anyway, I've covered a lot in the past about these particular verses, so if you'd like to read more about them, I'll provide two links here:
First, the wonderful lecture by Matthew Vines, on YouTube, here; and
Second, an article by Daniel Payne, here.
So, because I've been reflecting a lot on the relevance of the Easter Message for LGBT Christians this year, I offer here a prayer for Good Friday, from Dorothy McRae-McMahon, whose liturgical resources I come back to, time and time again. If you're not yet familiar with her work, it's worth looking at.
Prayer of Confession
God who never turns away from us in rejecting judgement,
we enter this day as the one
where we are invited to look deeply into our lives.
Embrace us with your costly love as we face our realities -
the tough truth about ourselves
which stands stark and clear before your cross.
Loving Jesus, we grieve our constant failure
to be your true people.
Our lives are often limited by our own concerns
and closed off by prejudice and ignorance.
Show to us our self-righteousness as we tell ourselves
that we are the chosen ones in this world.
Break through our self-deception
so that we may see ourselves as ordinary human beings,
those who share in the crucifying of good
and who are far more dependent on your grace than we will
Forgive us, O God:
For we know not what we do
and we know not what we have done.
Words of assurance
The God who hangs before us in suffering and death
is the God who would rather die than stop loving us
and who offers us forgiveness.
As we stand before the grandeur of his love,
let us receive the pardon of the Christ and live as people
who walk in faith towards Easter Day.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We thank you, O God,
that you travel with us down the days of life,
entering the places which we dread
and staying in the darkness and emptiness alongside us.
We will never forget your kindness in our every moment, loving Jesus.
We thank you on this day, Jesus Christ,
for love which surpasses human knowledge
and grace which bears the pain of death.
Prayer of intercession
On this day, of all days, O God,
we bring to you all the oppressions and suffering in this troubled world.
We do this in confidence,
knowing that nothing is too much or too little for you:
Gather up all of these, our prayers,
into the loving healing and costly carrying of pain
which lies within your own Body, Jesus Christ,
that soon all may be changed into new life.
And now we pray that we, as your earthly Body,
may so be transformed and inspired by your love for us,
that we too may absorb into our life the needs and struggles of the world
and create there a miracle of grace
and a leading forth into a different day.
In the silence,
we honour all that you have done for us and for all people:
Give us faith to believe in a love as great as yours, O Christ.
Go out in quiet faith
to walk the way towards the hope of Easter Day
and our meeting with the risen Christ.
(McRae-McMahon, D. 2006. Liturgies for High Days. London: SPCK)