On Tuesday, Great St Mary’s flew a rainbow flag from the top of our iconic tower to mark the beginning of LGBT+ History Month. We will do so again at the end of February. We do this because we are part of the University of Cambridge, and the University is rightly committed, as the Vice-Chancellor puts it, ‘to helping create a society where everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is able to reach their full potential.’
We do this too, moreover, because we are an Inclusive Church, seeking to be a place of worship and welcome where people are celebrated and affirmed without discrimination on grounds of disability, economic power, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, learning disability, mental health, neurodiversity, or sexuality.
For a church to fly the rainbow flag is, how shall I put this, not uncontroversial. Flags often are. Eddie Izzard’s brilliantly waspish skit on flags and empire is both funny and challenging. Perhaps you recall recent public conversations about the way in which Government ministers rarely appear these days without one of more Union flags as a backdrop; or why the BBC’s annual report did not include a Union flag anywhere.
Much of the worldwide church struggles with issues of human sexuality. There are as many reasons why as there are individual Christians. The Living in Love and Faith process seeks to discern a way forward for the Church of England in relation to matters of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage because of society’s changing perspectives and practices - especially in relation to lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex people. It was our privilege to have Dr Eeva John, the Enabling Officer for this process, as our preacher at Great St Mary’s last Sunday. If you weren’t there, make sure you listen to her excellent sermon in the video below.
Flying a flag is easy enough. The experience of many who have been wounded by an
ex-clusive church is not. So let’s pray to be more inclusive – to recognize that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. To learn to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgives us. And to enfold our own desiring into and around the longings of God for us to know and love him in his Son, Jesus Christ.