A young man walks into a cathedral. He is feeling unhappy and distressed. He has come looking for answers but he is not sure how or why. He finds himself standing before a large crucifix and beside it is a prayer board. For a moment he hesitates and then begins to write a prayer. He writes that he is lonely. He writes that he is gay. He writes that he does not want to upset God because God’s happiness is what matters most. Then he pauses before adding “It hurts”.
The next morning, at the early morning Eucharist, the priest stands at the altar, before him are the prayers left in the cathedral the day before. He starts to offer the prayers that have been written and then comes across the young man’s prayer…and the priest starts to cry.
The priest longs to shout out: How has it come to this? How have we managed to give the burden of guilt to a young man exploring his sexuality and the idea that he has upset God? When will the Church finally be free to celebrate the wonderful diversity of human gender and sexuality and affirm the possibility of long-term, committed relationships for all?
Trying to remain faithful, the priest continues standing at the altar. Before him now are placed the bread and wine waiting to be offered, blessed, broken, shared, out-poured. In response to the young man’s prayer come these symbols of God’s unconditional, undying love.
The service draws to its close, and as the priest leaves the chapel he glances vainly in the direction of the prayer board wishing the young man might still be there. But he is not. More than anything the priest wants to find him, tell him God loves him whatever his sexuality, that being gay does not upset God and that what would make God truly happy would be him living his life in love and faithfulness to the best of his ability.
As the priest takes off his robes, he cannot forget the hurt captured in that prayer and resolves, in what ever ways he can, to embrace the rainbow and loudly proclaim, in word and deed, God’s love for all.