So three day days ago was Belfast Pride. By all accounts a wonderful, joyous celebration of Love and acceptance. I was sad I missed it because Belfast is a city in a country that often seems very divided and any opportunity to join thousands of other people from different faith or no faith backgrounds, variety of political persuasions, skin colors, Protestants and Catholics, should be grabbed with both hands.
It should be celebrated.
If you ever attend a Pride event any where in the world it is undoubtedly a colorful and vibrant occasion. This of course, has much to do with the use of the rainbow as a symbol of inclusivity. Everyone is welcome, everyone is celebrated.
And with such inclusivity, comes some obvious problems.
Scattered throughout the hundreds of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts I saw this weekend about Pride; there were a few concerns about the hijacking of the rainbow as a symbol of Pride from being a symbol of God’s Love and Grace to the world.
The interesting thing about this is that if anyone has any rights to the rainbow as a symbol it is the Israelite people, the descendants of Noah. In essence, all of us who use the symbol of a rainbow today have coopted the rainbow for their own needs.
Which is ironically, it’s whole purpose.
None of us have a right to the rainbow and yet, all of us may use it. (Tweet this)
As one comment from a friend pointed out, rainbows are formed from the natural phenomenon of refraction of light. Another friend responded that yes, but all nature belongs to God.
Is my first friend correct or my second friend?
The answer is an unequivocal, Yes!
Noah and the First Pride Event
The story of Noah goes, that after the flood and Noah and his family had finally gotten used to their sea sickness, God sent a rainbow as a promise that he would never again destroy humanity like He had. It was a sign to the Israelites and consequently to all of us, that we are accepted and that everyone is welcome. You are not judged by the color of your skin, your religion or who you love. You are invited completely as you are.
This then reminded me of the Nichole Nordeman song “Not To Us”. In it she sings, “Anything that’s good, anything that’s true, let it point to You”. The words point to the true message of the rainbow and the danger of claiming it as ours alone.
When we claim it as our own we have severely missed the point of the rainbow. God had just wiped out people who he deemed as wicked and through the rainbow, God demonstrated a massive change of heart. The rainbow represents the moment God decides that all human beings have worth. The repercussions of this for all of us can not be overstated. Everything has a purpose and can be redeemed.
If two people of the same sex are in love and lay down their lives for each other, it is good and true and beautiful and it points to something far bigger than any man made religions or traditions.
If an Atheist brings food to the hungry, it is good and true and beautiful and points to something far bigger than any man made religions or traditions.
If a Buddhist comforts the weak or mourning, it is good and true and beautiful and points to something far bigger than any man made religions or traditions.
If a Christian brings peace to their community, it is good and true and beautiful and points to something far bigger than any man made religions or traditions.
God was not stupid when He designed the rainbow. The rainbow, despite it’s enormity can never fully be grasped. There is no real beginning or end to it since anytime you get close you realize it is also simultaneously far away. Just like us, when we try to put strict borders on Love or truth, we find ourselves far apart from what true love is. The nature of a rainbow, is colorful. All colors are represented and each of them are required for the rainbow to be full and complete. Lose one, and it sacrifices an important part of it’s very essence.
Humanity is no different.
Then there is the one big issue about claiming the rainbow as our own, that is maybe the most problematic of all. When we claim it as ours exclusively, we are saying that we get to decide who is in. When we, as the church claim it as ours and no one else’s, we have shut the door on many wonderful and beautiful people and experiences. We take the place of God and we do this out of a fear of what we don’t understand.
But this is not Love and can never ever be described as anything resembling Love. It is selfishness and fear and anger. But let us never be fooled into thinking it is Love.
The rainbow is a gift to everyone. It does not have to be protected or kept hidden. It shines above us all regardless of any of the internal and external storms we each face every day. For that, we should be grateful. So grateful then, that maybe the next time we see a rainbow we remember that we are all invited.
The only thing we then need to decide is, if we want to come to the party.
Let us not imagine that we might have a hand in where the wind blows, where Grace goes. Let not any passion be for any kingdoms we have fashioned in our own name, for our own fame- Nichole Nordeman