Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. October 31, 2018 was the 35th Anniversary in our 36th year in Ministry.
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The Rainbow Flag Is God's Gift To Our Community
by Rev. Br. Shawn Francis Benedict, Appointed Pastor of Ray Of Hope Church




I belive God personally selected the rainbow as the perfect symbol for the Lesbian, Gay, Transgendered, Queer, Questioning, and Enlightened Heterosexual Community. In Genesis 9:8-17 the Holy Bible tells us where rainbows come from. Please take a moment and read through this wonderful place in Scripture.

Genesis 9:8-17

 

9:8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him,

9:9 "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you,

9:10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.

9:11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth."

9:12 God said, "This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations:

9:13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

9:14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow is seen in the clouds,

9:15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.

9:16 When the rainbow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."

9:17 God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth."

This is the Word Of The Lord; Thanks Be To God.



After the flood of Noah God shows tremendous love and compassion for all of creation, "...the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark." (Genesis 9:11) With the making of this new covenant God expresses immeasurable love for all so loudly that it is almost deafening. With this covenant God is assuring all creation that humanity's sinfulness and disregard for God will never cause the total destruction of God's beautiful creation. This is really a covenant of eternal mercy and grace. God only gives life, not destruction, love, not violence and hatred, and truth because God never lies. God wants all creation to know God, and live in the plan God established when the universal order was made. God, therefore, made a new covenant with all creation promising to sustain creation. Then, God made the rainbow as the sign, and seal of this love for all creation.

Most of us agree that rainbows are truly beautiful to behold. Almost everyone stops to see a rainbow. In general, people have an innate feeling that rainbows are special. Science tells us just the right amount of moving moisture mixed with sunlight at just the right angle will produce a rainbow, but science believes it is all chance when certain conditions come about. Holy Scriptures tell us it isn't chance at all. God says rainbows are given to us directly from God's own heart to remind us God loves us. All rainbows, then are signs of God's desire to tell humanity and all creation that God operates completely from a position of love. Whatever God does begins with love, continues in love and ends in love. God is love. (1John 4:8)

As Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Bisexual, Pansexual, Asexual, Heterosexual, eunuchs, hermaphrodites, persons of all sexual and gender expressions, God speaks to us to say God loves us even when we do not love ourselves. Many of us have been taught not to love ourselves by others who hoped we would so despair at being who we were created to be that we might try to be something we are not, or people we cannot be. In fact, we have been taught to strongly dislike ourselves. Just thirty years ago, homosexuality was often referred to as "the sin that dare not speak its name." Even in this year of 2000 AD, "mainline" "Christian" denominations have re-affirmed their various ways of saying homosexuality is incompatible with what they think is Christianity. Do notice they are struggling with just the topic of homosexuality, none of them have even begun to discuss all the other gender and orientations listed above.

Into our world of disapproving supposed representatives of God, and into our resulting self dislike comes the Eternal Lover of all creation with the thunder of truth. God came up with a plan to visually express the Truth that all of us are loved by using Gods' most powerful symbol of that very covenant love, the rainbow.

In 1978 Gilbert Baker of San Francisco decided to fly a rainbow flag to represent Gay and Lesbian freedom. (Source: Alyson Almanac, page 57) Anything I have ever read about how he came up with the idea does not indicate it was for religious reasons, and it is unlikely he had even a clue that there was no more appropriate symbol in all creation than the rainbow for Gay and Lesbian freedom. Now, twenty-two years later the rainbow flag has come to express our desire for equal love for all people regardless of gender, sexuality, race, creed, custom, ethnicity, social status, or economic prowess. The rainbow flag is now being used to celebrate diversity. Rainbow symbols appear on buttons, bumper stickers, little flags, huge flags, streamers, posters, and on just about anything it can be printed on, even bank checks.

Further, in a very beautiful way the rainbow has been a symbol of great hope and human dignity to help relieve some of the emotional pain of the AIDS Pandemic. The rainbow is certainly one of the top five symbols one sees on the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.

In 1994 at the Stonewall 25 parade in New York City people stretched and carried a one-mile long sewn rainbow flag. This flag was made of heavy flag nylon, and it was the width of a two-lane large city street. Pictures were taken from helicopters as it flowed past the United Nations building. Every inch of the entire parameter of the flag was filled with hands holding it up and moving it along the entire parade route. What a tremendous spectacle it was. Pictures of the one-mile rainbow flag appeared in all the national newsmagazines. Most media agencies had wonderful pictures from the air and pictures of the people making if float through the streets of NY.

When I saw the one-mile rainbow flag the Holy Spirit moved me very deeply in my heart. What I heard in my mind and heart was so significant to me that I can almost recall it here in detail. True, these aren't exactly the words I reflected on that day, but these words are very close. I want you experience some of what I experienced God saying that day. It went something like this, God said:

"There it is, my rainbow. I celebrate today my covenant as I see your rainbow flags everywhere. I see my rainbow in the hands of children, on the strollers of babies, in the hands of young men and women, and in the hands of the elderly, on your pets, your hats, book bags, and yes, I am remembering my covenant right now as I see you. Yes I am keeping my covenant with all of you. All of you here, I see you, I hear you, I am with you. If you only knew how much I love you. Fly my rainbow with pride! Fly it high, hang it from your house tops, fly it from your cars, cover books with it, place it as the welcome door mat to your home, and though you may not know it is I who am with you, I am with you always. I know your pain; I know what liars are saying.... Shhhhhh... Quiet children, you have no need to defend yourselves to me. I made you, I know more about you than you know about yourselves. Fly my rainbow! You make it look so beautiful! So many beautiful rainbows flying in the warm June sun. Fly! Fly! Fly high against my sky! Whenever I see your rainbows I will remember you by name, and I will remember how much I love you. When you are home with me you will see all the pain and injustices will be over. Let me into your lives oh my people. I can comfort you so much and help you understand why so many do not comprehend my ways. You understand my ways. You are right, all people are beautiful in my sight. Fly my rainbow with pride today and every day. I want you to fly it. I will help you love it and if perchance you don't find out why you love it so in this life, I will personally show you when you are home with me that I was with you all the way. I love you."



These are almost the exact words as I am finding it very easy to relive that moment as I sit here and type away. I remember tears were flooding my face as people of all ages walked by holding the giant flag; people in military uniforms, clergy clothing, professional uniforms, skaters, Goths, the poor, some wealthy, club kids, leather men, drag queens, men and women in hard hats, people in medical uniforms, all kinds of people holding God's rainbow and causing it to fly. It looked like humanity was holding and presenting God's Coat of Arms for the world to see that we do belong to God and it is that fact that will eventually win. Many of the people were crying for many reasons that day. As I stood there taking it in, I was overwhelmed with the presence of the Holy Spirit at the 25th Anniversary Stonewall parade.

There is a very large rainbow flag that is hanging on the wall at the Pride Community Center in Syracuse, NY where the Syracuse Extension of Ray Of Hope Church worships. It is the largest symbol in the room. It is impossible to be in the room without seeing it. We have come to really appreciate it as our most prominent symbol in our worship space. Should God ever will us to have a permanent building of our own it is clear to me that the rainbow flag must be the most large and looming art piece in the worship space.

In my mind, there is the miracle in all this. Millions of gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, questioning, bi-curious and transgender people truly believe the lies that condemn us from the so-called church, and so-called society. Many are convinced God hates them and that God will someday be condemning them to Hell. Yet in spite of all that confusion God found a way right into their hearts. God had to find a way to counter the lies and shout NO that isn't true. God found it! God put into the heart of an unsuspecting young man, Gilbert Baker of San Francisco, (the city named after St. Francis of Assisi who really knew how to love and accept all people) to make God's rainbow the very symbol of the hope for liberty and justice for all.

The Book of Revelation says God will recreate the Earth and destroy the sting and curse of sin. At the time of this new creation we will finally have that world that is "one nation, under God, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all." The United States of America is incapable of ever being that new world order according to the Bible. Further, the Scriptures promise God will make God's home on Earth in that hour. When we see God face to face, we will finally understand why the rainbow is the perfect symbol of His truth that God is with us always.

You see, the Bible tells us in the Book of Ezekiel chapter 1:28 and in the Book of Revelation, chapter 4:2-3 God's throne is completely encircled by an unbroken rainbow for all eternity. WOW! There is no way one man naturally chose the symbol that is God's very own signature and seal for God's own throne to be our symbol and flag!

God chose the rainbow as our symbol of diversity and freedom as the perfect way to reach out and love us. So when you see a rainbow sticker, flag, button, etc., stop and envision the throne of God as it is completely encircled with the rainbow this very second as we speak. Tell me this was an accident. No, I should say, try to tell me this was an accident! God is so good to us. We are loved with an everlasting love, one that is eternal and beautifully expressed in the circular, eternal rainbow with God in the center.

I would hope as you are reflecting on this you are experiencing the touch of God in your heart right now, and I also hope you take the time to shed some tears of joy and gratitude. Know this very day how much God loves you. Fly a rainbow flag this summer. Put some rainbow stickers on your books, your car, your skate board. With every one you display, say: "thank you God for making me" as you press it into place. God wants you to celebrate who you are as a gift from God and to take your rightful place with all creation singing God's praises forever and ever, Amen.

May almighty God bless you, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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