Last week was Oxford Pride, 2013. St. Columba’s took an active part in this, including acting host for the playwright, Jo Clifford, and giving her a place to perform one of her plays, Jesus, Queen of Heaven, in our sanctuary. When it was performed in Glasgow in 2009, it sparked controversy and protest from local Christian groups. It was with this knowledge, but also following lively and rational conversation with Jo, that I attended her performance.
It’s strange, to be in a church. I’m not normally welcome here”.
From this contemplative start (what would we make of Jesus, if He were to turn up in our church today?), which is perhaps now also a meta-reflection on the playwright’s reception, Jo takes us on a journey into her imagination of the portrait Jesus is painting of Herself in her own life.
The fourth wall of theatre is broken down, as parables are re-told – the Prodigal Son becomes the Prodigal Transexual – the Good Samaritan, a prostitute. The despised help the rejected. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first. The messages Jesus told through these stories resonated louder – and I heard them again, heard God again, afresh. God condemns no one. My attention was held from beginning to end.
Her play left me wondering why gender matters so very much to those who protested against this play. As I’ve already reflected upon, we are told in the Bible that
“In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2 (NIV).
All the fullness of the Deity. God transcends gender. Other writers have also explored a feminine side to God. There is no reason to suppose that God’s fullness in Jesus does not include this. Assuming so opens up new ways of seeing God’s character, of understanding His/Her love for us.