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.
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.
Red is for life, the root of spirit. Living and Self-Loving Christ, you are our Root. Free us from shame and grant us the grace of healthy pride so we can follow our own inner light. With the red stripe in the rainbow, we give thanks that God created us just the way we are.
Orange is for sexuality, the fire of spirit. Erotic Christ, you are our Fire, the Word made flesh. Free us from exploitation and grant us the grace of mutual relationships. With the orange stripe in the rainbow, kindle a fire of passion in us.
Yellow is for self-esteem, the core of spirit. Out Christ, you are our Core. Free us from closets of secrecy and give us the guts and grace to come out. With the yellow stripe in the rainbow, build our confidence.
Green is for love, the heart of spirit. Transgressive Outlaw Christ, you are our Heart, breaking rules out of love. In a world obsessed with purity, you touch the sick and eat with outcasts. Free us from conformity and grant us the grace of deviance. With the green stripe in the rainbow, fill our hearts with untamed compassion for all beings.
Blue is for self-expression, the voice of spirit. Liberator Christ, you are our Voice, speaking out against all forms of oppression. Free us from apathy and grant us the grace of activism. With the blue stripe in the rainbow, motivate us to call for justice.
Violet is for vision, the wisdom of spirit. Interconnected Christ, you are our Wisdom, creating and sustaining the universe. Free us from isolation and grant us the grace of interdependence. With the violet stripe in the rainbow, connect us with others and with the whole creation.
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.
Detail from “Christ and the Two Marys” by William Holman Hunt (Wikimedia Commons)
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.
Kittredge Cherry with Rainbow Candles (photo by Audrey)
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.
Patrick Cheng and Kittredge Cherry
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
Rainbow Christ Prayer translated into 10 languages
Rainbow Christ Prayer goes nationwide at churches, schools and events (2014)
Rethinking Sin and Grace for LGBT People by Patrick Cheng (Jesus in Love)
Welcome the New Year with Bridge of Light by Kittredge Cherry (Jesus in Love)
Rainbow Christ Prayer at Huffington Post
Rainbow Christ Prayer short version
Rainbow flag (Wikipedia)
Patrick Cheng's website and Twitter feed
This post is part of the Queer Christ series series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. The series gathers together visions of the queer Christ as presented by artists, writers, theologians and others.
Copyright © Kittredge Cherry. All rights reserved.
Jesus in Love Blog on LGBT spirituality and the arts