Sunday, December 18, 2011
Mary had no voice.
What an odd situation. God chooses to use a woman who has no voice to bridge the eternal gap between humanity and the completeness of God and his Kingdom. I started to read a book about Mary, written by an Evangelical man. He tried to exegete the life of Mary, so that we may better understand her role within the story. I gave up on him by the second chapter, because he seemed to miss the point.
As do many people who have never experienced pain, oppression, or poverty. Mary was completely ostracized from her community. She carried around that reputation for the rest of her life. That reputation of being unfaithful to her husband, or being crazy enough to believe that God impregnated her. I am sure you have met one or two people within your life who had held similar views about their role within the Kingdom. You know, the person on the train, who says he is a prophet, or the woman that walks into your church and claims she has a special understanding of scripture.
Jesus wasn't just born in a humble cave. Jesus was born to a woman who held a dangerous reputation. A woman who did not even give birth within her community, but rather had her husband, help her give birth. A woman who did not follow the cleanly laws of the Israelite birth process but rode on a donkey to a foreign place to give birth. And let me tell you, pregnancy is a nervy process to begin with, let alone having to deliver a baby in a cold, dark, dank, place. This woman did not follow the Israelite law in anything. Yet she bore Abba's son.
A woman that had no voice brought Abba's son into the world. A woman who had a dangerous reputation raised Jesus, had authority over what he ate, and wore, and what kind of chores he would have around the house. I would be curious to sit across from Mary, and ask her how she felt about her son. And, how she reconciled her dangerous, law-breaking, reputation with trying to teach Jesus the truth and the law. While, I sit here reflecting on Mary the law-breaker, I ask myself that same question. Will I try and raise my child with an understanding that moral Christianity is crucial to understanding the life of Jesus, or will I try and demonstrate a faith that is more interested in following the Holy Spirit than in morality? Maybe a little bit of both?
Sunday, November 27, 2011
They loved the idea. So, I took a model I learned in school and I changed the language to fit within the group's framework. I had all the group members buy a copy of The Bible book by book, and we started on 1 John together.
Every week we did some exegetical and contextual work. Every week we tried to immerse the group within the understanding that the Holy Spirit is crucial to our understanding of scripture. Every week I challenged their old framework. It was a lot of work but slowly I saw some of their old framework shift and take a new shape.
Now, many people would consider this discipline a waste of time. A lot of leaders in ministry focus on service and outreach to challenge their people. I think that is a wonderful discipline to practice. Some of the most convicting moments within my life have been in step with some sort of service activity.
However, I will defend the discipline of challenging theological frameworks using scripture even after the grave. I find it crucially important to our faith because while we will meet Jesus in service to others, without the eyes and ears to recognize what He looks like we will likely miss a holy moment.
Challenging this group's interpretative framework was not motivated by pride or Biblical arrogance. I am not foolish enough to believe that I have the key to an interpretative formula, but I am aware enough to know that the Kingdom's foundation is the many different views of faith that our ancestors experienced in their own life.
Hebrews 11 paints this ancestral illustration of faith that we get to be apart of as Kingdom people. Every person in that faith list had a different experience with God and the Kingdom. And every person within that list had a whole framework that had to be shaken, twisted, and molded into a framework that could glimpse more and more of the Kingdom.
Moses was not ready to lead the people into the promise land when God called him. God had to rework Moses' framework over a period of time to bring him to a place of leadership and understanding.
The women in my group, me included, have been immersed in a specific framework which limits our understanding of the Triune God. However, through the story we have been given within scripture, through our experience, through other Kingdom people, and through our Christian tradition we place ourselves in a place where God continues to shake, stir, twist and mold our framework.
Our Bible studies are a wonderful example of this discipline. As we are constantly being challenged with a Gospel that does not fit within our White, Middle class, slightly racist, American, gender specific framework.
As we meet we challenge each other to seek the story within scripture and to wrestle with the faith of our ancestors.
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Saturday, November 26, 2011
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Sunday, September 18, 2011
My women's small group has been studying 1 John lately. One of the biggest themes we have noticed during our study is the contrast of light and dark. We get to choose whether we live in the light or in the dark. If we accept Christ and his love into our life than we are living in the light and if w reject Christ an his love than we are living in the dark.
John flushes this kind of love out in 1 John 4:7-12 let me read it for us...
If we want to live in the light than we must accept the reality that love comes from God alone and that christ's death and resurrection were the fullest expression of Gods love for us. If we buy into this radical and transformational story and accept it into our lives we are called to love each other wholly and completely even when we are hurt, or angry or frustrated.
Communion is a time where we get to display this love in a physical way. Before we take communion let us ask ourselves if we are seeing God's transformational love in the details of our lives and within our church body or are we lost in hopelessness and despair?
Let us reflect on whether we are living in the light or in the dark before we participate in the holy act of communion.
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Friday, September 16, 2011
Have you ever been to the desert? It's hot there during the day and very cold during the night. It's a variety of extreme conditions. You would not want to get stuck out in the desert. In Christian spirituality the desert image has strong historical roots. The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years seeking solace and reconciliation as they waited as they waited to enter the promiseland. Jesus himself went out into the "wilderness" for forty days and forty nights. In history we can see desert father and mothers who deserted the world and went to seek the holiness of solitude and sand using Jesus as their example. We have writings from many of these men and women who had to get out of the world to save their own souls. Now a days the desert imagery is used to describe wilderness spirituality. The desert is the place where your soul is dry and where you
wander and wonder and feel like God is very far away. This is where I have lived for the last three years.
I got married. I moved to southern Illinois. I became a preacher's wife. I grew into an adult. I got a full time job and then I quit. I went back to get my Masters degree.
All of this happened and I feel like I am still wandering around in the desert with bare feet. I have definitely continued to make decisions but I am not sure about any of them. I feel like my heart is no longer unified.
I am torn between the spiritual responsibility of where I am and who I am around with the knowledge of knowing I am called to do ministry full time in a vocational setting.
While I have been hanging out in the desert I have started to cultivate my some discipline. If you were trapped in the desert you wouldn't drink all your water at once, you wouldn't waste your energy walking around in the middle of the afternoon when the sun is the hottest. You would die if you wasted your energy and resources while stranded in the desert.
That is why I have started cultivating disciplines. I really don't want my soul to perish because I wasted my energy climbing up a sand dune of conflict that produced no results or change. I want to keep my cultivation in practice so that when I get to a place of rich greenery I can enjoy the beauty of the place. I do not want to get caught up in the beauty and in the belief that i created the beauty with my great leadership or righteous spirituality. I am cultivating now so wherever I am led I can try and see and hear the Creator. The one who has led me and the one who has been with me, and the one who is good.
While I wait for the green, cool, wet grass under my blistered bloody feet I will continue to practice the discipline of cultivation. While I sit in the desert and wait for the hottest part of the day to pass I cling to Romans 8:26-28.
God is still moving and breathing and living. I get to be in a place where God has taught me humility, discipline, and gratitude.
What are you learning in the desert?
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