The rainbow flag in front of our church signals that this is a safe place. In the months since the flag went up I have received queries from families with two moms or two dads asking if this would be a safe place for them. They shared heartbreaking stories of having been rejected from their own churches. I responded that, yes, I believe this is a safe place for anyone who wants communal support for loving God and loving all of God’s people.
As I contemplated writing this reflection, I looked at what others have written about the significance of the rainbow flag. One quote stood out: Gay Pride was not born of a need to celebrate being gay, but our right to exist without persecution. (www.stop-homophobia.com) The significance of the rainbow flag outside St. Dunstan’s Church is not pride, or promotion, or celebrating one group or another. The issue is to respect the dignity of every human being, as we promise in our Baptismal Covenant.
Last October we were all horrified by the reports of carnage and murder at an Orlando night club. Omar Mateen killed 49 people and injured 53 others in a terrorist/hate attack on a popular gay nightclub before being killed himself. On the following Thursday, at 7 PM, St. Dunstan’s Church offered a prayer vigil for the victims of this attack. We draped a rainbow flag, the Gay Pride flag, over a table that held a sand bowl. Into the sand bowl, we placed a candle for each person who died, as we recited their names and ages. The next day a member of our congregation asked if we could place the flag outside, over our street sign, to let the neighborhood know that we grieve for the fallen, and that this is a safe place.
In the last several months, across our nation there have been an alarming number of threats, vandalism of places of worship, desecration of Jewish graveyards, and physical violence against Sikhs, Muslims, Jews, and people who look different. People who identify as LGBTQ have been categorized, along with religious and ethnic minorities, as “other” and “threatening”. The flag in our driveway signifies that we stand against these acts of hatred and prejudice.
We don’t all agree about politics. We don’t all agree about issues of human sexuality or even about religion. What we have in common is our love of God as revealed in Jesus. We find that together, in community, we can better live out our calling to do God’s work in the world. This is challenging work, and we need God and each other. We can only hope to succeed together. Together, and only with God’s help, can we hope to make a difference as we strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
Yours in Christ,