This theological reflection is adapted from an
address given at a service in Chorlton
The Manchester Pride Parade is flamboyant, even outrageous, with a real carnival atmosphere - I think heaven's going to a bit like that!
It's great fun but more than that - because for many of the people there, it is not all that long ago that they would not have dared to raise their heads and admit their sexuality. Yet, here they are - walking with heads held high, with pride.
Christians have an important part to play at Pride. There are always a group of Christians standing at the side of the procession with placards carrying homophobic words. There needs to be another message to our sisters and brothers in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, and for the last few years there have been a group of "Christians walking with Pride"
"Do not fear, there is no darkness, only light and love."
This was the last sentence of a poem that was once used at the Vigil, held a few days later, for victims of HIV/AIDS.
Hundreds of mainly young people gathered that evening in the city centre. It was dark and we couldn't see each other properly, but then we lit our candles in remembrance of the people who had died, and we could see the faces of the people nearby. I could see the young man in front of me, and the candlelight lit up the tears on his cheek. He was being comforted by his boyfriend, and I thought: who can say that this love and tenderness is wrong, and I also thought that heaven is going to a bit like that, too.
So what would Jesus do in this situation?
Well, on the face of it, Jesus was silent about same-sex relationships. From what we can read in the gospels, he neither condemned them nor condoned them. But that might have been because the Romans, who were the rulers of Judaea at the time, regarded same-sex relationships as a natural option, though they had strict laws to punish rape and child abuse. So for Jesus same-sex relationships were part of the norm.
And after all, he had plenty of opportunity to speak out against them if he'd chosen to - and he did speak freely about other aspects of moral and social behaviour. His silence of the subject may well have meant that for him, it simply wasn't an issue.
But that was then. Nowadays, it's different.
Nowadays it is an issue.
Nowadays, people are sometimes osctracised, insulted, abused, physically hurt, even killed, because of their sexuality.
So I cannot believe that nowadays Jesus would remain silent.
What would Jesus do? Well, I believe that Jesus would have been at that Parade, enjoying it, being alongside the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, walking with pride with them. I believe that Jesus would have been at that Vigil, drying the tears, and being alongside the suffering.
Jesus would not have remained silent.
Neither can we, the followers of Jesus, remain silent.
During the vigil one year, one of the speakers announced (and it needs to be noted that he is not a Christian):
"Present at the parade where those Christians who tell us that it's wrong for us to love each other, while shaking their bibles at us.
But there were some Christians walking with us in the parade, waving right back at them."
This announcement was greeted with loud cheers and applause.
I, for one, am proud and moved to be part of the group of Christians who earned those cheers and applause.
copyright © Revd Sarah Brewerton 2008 and 2012
rev 5 August 2012