June 18, 2023
The rainbow came from earliest recorded history as a symbol of hope. In the Book of Genesis, it appeared as proof of a covenant between God and all living creatures. It is also found in Chinese, Egyptian, and Native American history.1  

This month, we see it celebrating and commemorating LGBTQ pride. Rainbows, in this community and this context, represent a lot of things including hopeful expectation that the future will be different than the past. Each stripe in the rainbow flag represents different attributes or virtues. Queer Christian theologians, Patrick Cheng and Kittredge Cherry, wrote the "Rainbow Christ Prayer" with these attributes in mind. The opening stanza says this: 

“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.”2

The prayer poem then goes on to list each color as they connect to aspects of Jesus. Focusing on the first stanza, just as the rainbow is meant to be a unifier across differences, so is Jesus. What if Jesus is like the rainbow flag—a symbol of hopeful expectation that the future will be different than the past? 

That would make us like Noah—hunkered down in the storm of life yet held carefully by God. In Genesis 7 all the animals and Noah’s family went into the ark and “God shut them in”. That is, God sealed them in a safe place during an uncertain time. Before the rainbow appears and all Noah knows is the storm, he is held safely. 

In chapter 8 when the flood subsides, the text says, “God said to Noah, ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh.” The safe place is enough until it is safe to come out. The ark probably wasn’t comfortable, but it was enough. 

This reminds me of a quote from Julian of Norwich that helped keep me afloat during the COVID lockdowns. “If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.” 

In whatever storms you find yourself, whatever uncertainty. Whatever symbols and structures and status quos are used to keep you in your place, know that the God of movement and liberation, the God of active hope holds you in Their ark, Their womb, with Their love, until it is time for the sun to shine and you to come out of the hidden place. 

Until that time, like Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, we can see the rainbow symbolism as only half of the picture, awaiting the other half to make a full circle.3 There is more to come. Always. 

This Grapevine devotional was written by Erica Lea-Simka
MW USA SW Regional Representative

Check out our community reading of the "Rainbow Christ Prayer" on our Facebook and Instagram stories and highlights!
These little ladies carry on the uplifting tradition of women coming together to create and make with their hands! A recent MW USA Celebrating Sisterhood event in Northern Virginia raised awareness about disaster relief and collected supplies for Mennonite Central Committee dignity kits. The event included an arts and crafts table for making a variety of housewarming gifts (scrap fabric wreaths, nature magnets, picture frames and water color paintings) as a hands-on way to reflect on the home rebuilding part of disaster relief.

Like a festive prayer that all might experience such peace and joy, MW USA reminds you to celebrate the spirit of sisterhood! How are you and your friends creating, reflecting and doing your little part? Send us a note and/or pictures about your gatherings to share on our social media channels so we can all celebrate with you!
A big thank you to Patrice Rutherford, Robin Chico and Annabeth Roeschley for being part of the incredible panel of LGBTQIA identifying sisters and siblings at our most recent Coffee & Conversation! First, the panel offered their stories, then the rest of the room spoke their truths of struggle and resilience based on similarities or differences. 

Cyneatha reported, “I just felt honored that those women shared their stories the way they did. I was struck by the way our stories fit their [the panelists’] stories. We tend to make it look like they have a different world than us, but the reality is we all fight the same realities.”
Your story is a powerful part of our sisterhood following Jesus together. Sharing our experiences and ideas is how we learn from each other. It helps us know how to encourage one another and enables us to see God more clearly. Even as our stories are still unfolding, venturing to tell it, having it heard, and hearing from others is a powerful way of connection.

MW USA has two opportunities for sharing your story. Each month we feature a story inspired by scripture here in the Grapevine. Send in a 300-600 word devotional based on some specific part of the Bible. Twice a month we feature an original community journal entry in our Women's Voices blog celebrating and empowering women. Send in a 500-800 word story, reflection, meditation or vision.

MW USA is for women however they come to us: broken, powerful, questioning, free. Pen your story and share it with our sisterhood today!
MWUSA Donors enable women to come together in hope, healing and solidarity. We circle around the Bible, guided by women authored Study Guides. We are part of an international gathering of women who reflect on self care and each other care through Sister Care. Pooling our support for Scholarships makes new spiritual leadership possible every semester. God moves in our Conversations and Moves Us to places of growth. Every time we come together in person and online we make ever more links so our gifts and networks can bind the world in God's love.

We make a difference so our sisters can make a difference. Donating makes a difference.