Reveal

We are never without an opportunity for a new, fresh revelation of those things that we most need to hear. Whether it is revealed in a dream, a sacred text, or a common daily occurrence, it’s important to be able to listen to what is waiting to be revealed.

The Loss of a Mothering God: Exploring Noah

Posted on 16 Feb 2019 | 0 comments

Most of our depictions of God are of the old, white guy with a beard in the sky, prepared for judgment. If we’re lucky, we’ve rediscovered the vibrant, multi-faceted and very non-white God who Fathers us with love and power and compassion. But if we’re honest, the concept of a Mother God disrupts us and makes us desperately uncomfortable. It’s no surprise that when The Shack revealed God as an older, loving black Mother that so many of us rooted in traditional Western Christianity lost our ever-loving minds. But some of us felt the whisper of DEEP MAGIC in that story. The Deeper Magic that reminds us that Male & Female, we were created in the image of God. That there’s a Mother in there, the Hen gathering Her chicks under Her wing, or the agony of a torn veil at the death of a son.

When we imagine the story of Noah, we often think of a high and mighty warrior God, smiting most of creation in order to satisfy some sick judgment. We are deeply disturbed, and even with the salvation of one single family and a bunch of animals, the devastation of the planet seems incredibly troubling – despite the rainbow at the end. I mean, it makes total sense to me why Noah goes on a bender within short order after landing.

But I want to re-imagine this story, trusting that God was not distressed by Goddess culture in the ANE, and that God didn’t feel threatened by Tiamat, but that God wanted to provide a counter-narrative to the birthing of conflict of terror and violence that erupted from Tiamat’s womb. I want you to imagine, if you will, that like other women since the dawn of creation, God realized that she was birthing something that had what we might call “failure to thrive.” And this realization led to one of the most heart-wrenching, grief-filled decisions that this Mothering God had to make. Does She allow the toxic, violent, murderous life to poison the whole womb of creation, love, and ordering that She’s gestating and co-laboring for in this primordial world? Or does She make the agonizing decision to flush the dying children from the womb in order to give Noah’s line the best possible chance to survive and create something beautiful? Perhaps the termination of this portion of her gestation was the best possible choice of No. Good. Choice. And maybe, just maybe, God understands the woman’s grief of having our identity and value in society determined by the by-products of our lady parts.

When we imagine the story through this lens, we are transported into a profound counter-narrative to other flood stories and a re-integration and remembrance of creation in the most confounding of stories. We are invited to return to the promise of the Spirit hovering over the waters and breathing life into the most meaningful and life-giving of creations. We are invited into the womb of darkness and despair in order to emerge into the world of light and air.

Noah’s story, then, becomes a place of healing and hope for those who have lost pregnancies, had to terminate them – by choice or by necessity, for those who fail to conceive. The Mothering God understands deeply the loss of women who have pregnancies that fail to thrive in a world that is hell-bent on determining the worth of women by the production of their wombs. The story becomes a beacon of a Mothering God’s understanding of what it is like to see life that you intended for blessing washed away in saline and blood. It invites us into a story of blessing and hope for the imagining that God creates as She blesses woman after woman in the Scriptures not only with children when all hope was lost, but also with purpose and identity, creativity and grit beyond the birthing of babies. We see a Mothering God who gives identity to the childless – like Deborah, Miriam and the daughters of Zelophehad, as well as to those great Mothers who continued the lines and re-enacted the covenant – like Jehochebed, mother of Moses, Sarah and Hagar, Leah & Rebecca & Bilhah & Zilpah and even Elizabeth and Mary. We see a Mothering God who empowers the midwives in Egypt to refuse their orders and continue life, Mary to conceive and bear a son, and Lydia & Euodia & Syntyche & Junia to blaze trails through the new Church.

A Mothering God has a vision to empower women with or without children – whose identity is grounded in their Belovedness as daughters of a profoundly blessing, empowering, nurturing Mother God. We are given worth and beauty in receiving our inherent image from the one who is continually creating, continually caring, continually nurturing, sustaining, innovating, sowing peace and reaping righteousness. We are grounded in a vision of a Mother God who brings life from emptiness and agony in the way that only women can. We are given a view of the power of grief and tears and their necessity to clear the floor for new things to emerge. We are shown that our “womb” is a profound symbol of the power that we have been given to give “birth” to new things in this world with power, strength, and bearing down. Noah gives us hope that no longer are we alone in our grief of stillbirths – our children of flesh or our children of spirit and ideas – and our failed starts and our failures to thrive.

So, I offer this poem, written from the heart of a grieving womb, for those of you with infertility, lost pregnancies, ended pregnancies, and for those women who have no desire to be pregnant at all. Because you are seen by a Mothering God. You are beloved despite your pro-creation or the production of your wombs. You are Beloved because you are a precious half of the image of God, living, breathing, and a custodian of the creative force in the universe for its beautification and its nurture. Blessed be.

From the Dark Waters of a Mothering God

When the dark waters rose
~~There was no seed in Sarah
No light could penetrate the depths
~~There was no seed in Rebecca
of the womb of blood and saline
~~The seed of Tamar ill-conceived
of the waves of darkness and terror
~~Hagar’s child forsaken, feared, abandoned
The womb of the world that was emptied
~~Bathsheba’s agony, thrice endured
As She swallowed the deadly, bitter truth
~~A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping
Her children are failing to thrive
~~Her children are no more
No heartbeat, no soul, no empathy
~~The innocents dashed against a stone
Leprous and diseased from the inside out, devoid of feeling and health
~~The sons smothered before taking a breath
And those bitter herbs of truth taken
~~Yet Hannah & Elizabeth’s tenacious hope
Detached those lives from her heartbeat
~~And the fierceness of Miriam in worship
Created the perfect storm
~~To part the seas for her people
The rain and thunder as those lives were drowned
~~No mother should outlive Her children
Pushing those lives through the birth canal
~~Blood and tears, sweat and agony
Ejected into outer darkness
~~The grief of Mary at the foot of the cross
And A Mother’s tears of Grief that filled the world
~~the veil was torn in two, to remove the barrier
Transformed into a Rainbow of Promise
~~Lydia, Deborah, Junia empowered
The deepest Sorrow of No Good Choice at all
~~Except Surrender
Turned into a glimmer of hope offered
~~the daughters anointed, burning with Spirit
A branch of peace extended
~~Reunited with Her in the cool of the Garden
An understanding reached
~~Her glory revealed, Beloved, Bride, but no longer simply Birthing
Of Her perfect Image revealed in them, the daughters of God

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From Easter, 2016

Posted on 6 May 2016 | 0 comments

Today is Easter. It feels a bit arbitrarily dated this year, and I almost feel as if I didn’t catch up. I’ve been so caught up in Jewish rhythms this year that my own liturgical rhythms have been a bit more muted. I’m still wrapped up in Purim and deliverance and courage and honor – and so my reflection on Resurrection feels so different this year. We went to church, and it was so uplifting and fun. My  “mom” up here in Canada is a pastor of a dynamic little congregation, and like many other evenings with this family, we have had intense and wonderfully thoughtful and deep conversations about faith and culture and ideas over amazing food and wine. We’ve been trying to figure out an age-appropriate way to talk about Easter with Amanda – but the whole ugly, violent death scenario is hard to reconcile. And you can’t get away from it with this holiday – I still have memories of being 3 or so and crying because they killed a nice man. But it’s a reality, because there can be no empty without a tomb.
I think about the diversity of people that I connect with here in this space. And I don’t want to have a preachy, turn or burny message on this special day in my tradition, but I want each of you to know the depth of love that my faith has given me for each of you – that there is something truly supernatural and miraculous to me about the *grace* that God has given me to love such a wealth of different people with such different backgrounds, faiths, opinions, perspectives, ethnicities, political views, and doctrine with the abandon and compassion that I feel when I think about you. There’s a passage in my sacred texts that I feel encompasses this – and if that same power that raised Christ from the dead is living in you, will He not give life also to you? That power of the resurrection – the power that brings things thought dead back to life – that’s the power in me. That’s the fire that fuels my love for each of you, believing in your dreams, believing in your goodness, believing in the best of each of you – knowing that whatever dies in undue time can, indeed, be brought back to life.
I want to live not just a resurrected life, but a resurrecting life, empowered and empowering each of you – no matter your beliefs or differences – to breathe life back into your dreams and dreams back into your life. To take broken and hurting places and pour as much life and love into them as I can, to bring restoration. To me, the empty tomb is a reminder to GO, to DO, to be present to each of you in a way that brings you life.
I may not always live up to this, but I pray that every year, I get a little bit better, and get a little bit closer to hitting my mark.
In general, this holiday, I am trying to hold sacred space for the resurrecting, life-giving power that I’ve been entrusted with, so that in living life with each one of you, I can impart some sacredness, some mystery, some light, life, and love.
I wish you a Blessed day, and may you find resurrection power flowing through your spirit in the coming season.

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Expectation and God’s Goodness

Posted on 1 Dec 2015 | 0 comments

It’s the season of Advent. A season of expectation and waiting. In the ancient text about Jesus written by Luke, we have two songs of expectation. One from a young woman, and another from an old man, both glorifying God for His goodness, His restoration, His power.
But imagine if you will, the voices of these two people. Mary – a young Jewish woman, found pregnant before marriage. Formerly known for her faithfulness and devotion to the Lord, now she is seen as ruined, tainted. Joseph, her betrothed, most likely was encouraged to set her aside, and he even considers doing so, but refrains because of a message from an angel. What kind of expectations could such a woman have? Scorn, ridicule, pain, or suffering? Yet it says that Mary treasures the announcement and is filled with excitement and expectation for the Goodness of God. How often do we see the Goodness of God in the midst of news that is troubling or disconcerting? How often do we treasure the word of Life that is given to us, even as we know it will bring us struggle and heartache? Mary shines as an example of a young woman who trusts, who lives knowing the Heart of the Father, trusting that His Goodness will triumph over any circumstance.
Contrast that with Zechariah – an old Jewish priest, tasked with serving the Lord, held in honor and esteem, and given even more when his wife becomes pregnant miraculously after decades of waiting without any seeming life. Now, Elizabeth is preparing to give birth. Yet, Zechariah’s response was clouded with doubt. Even with all the trappings of a religious faith to convince him that the angel spoke rightly, he still doubts God’s goodness. He knows that if true, it will create honor and fulfillment for his family – the opposite of what the announcement foreshadows for Mary. Yet, he cannot bring himself to believe that God is FOR him, that God’s GOODNESS will triumph. And so, in consequence, while Mary rejoices and sings with expectation, Zechariah is given nine months of silence to ponder and come to terms with God’s word coming to fulfillment.
As time moves forward, however, expectation grows, and both Mary and Zechariah move deeper into an understanding of God’s Goodness and promise. They see it from unique perspectives, however. Mary’s perspective reflects the oppressed, the suffering, the poor in spirit – the very people her son Jesus will bless in His Beatitudes later in life. She sees the promise in store for these people and foreshadows the coming blessing of God for all people. Zechariah sees the light of tender mercy dawning as well, realizing that God’s perfect Love casts out fear and doubt, allowing him to serve God and be a minister of His Goodness.
Let’s look at two portions of the text:
From Mary – From generation to generation, God’s lovingkindness endures for those who revere Him. God’s arm has accomplished mighty deeds. The proud in mind and heart, God has sent away in disarray. The rulers from their high positions of power, God has brought down low. And those who were humble and lowly, God has elevated with dignity. The hungry—God has filled with fine food. The rich—God has dismissed with nothing in their hands. To Israel, God’s servant, God has given help, As promised to our ancestors, remembering Abraham and his descendants in mercy forever.
From Zechariah – He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant—the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live…Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Both Zechariah and Mary know the promises of God and His Goodness for their people, and claim them for the future. 

As we enter a season of Advent, we are invited to remember and participate in God’s Goodness, His mercy, His Kindness, His Faithfulness to all generations. Even as God was faithful to Mary and Zechariah in their circumstances, bringing restoration and redemption, God is eager to be faithful to us in this season of our lives. He is eager to be faithful as we are expectant for not only the return of the King, but the restoration and renewal of all things. God desires for us to partner with Him and trust in His Goodness. He longs for us to treasure our promises and allow our expectation to move our spirits to rejoice and proclaim the good things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do.

Some questions for reflection:
* What promises have you received from the Lord that remain unfulfilled? Have you held them with expectation or with doubt?
* In what ways have you seen God’s Goodness manifest, even when times are hard – and seeming to get harder?
* How can you partner with God this holiday season to see His Goodness made manifest to other people?
* What would you like to hear from God in this season? Take a moment and journal out some questions that you would like to have answered.

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SB1062 Mini Soapbox

Posted on 26 Feb 2014 | 0 comments

1507015_10100739662986609_337452490_n<begin soapbox and mild theological reflection – please feel free to ignore>
I normally try to remain silent on most political issues, but having now read SB1062 from AZ, I’m actually more concerned about the bill and its ramifications. The wording of it is far too vague, leaving numerous openings for the state to *have* to come in to define religious practice. I really don’t want the state to define those practices.

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Why today is actually a Good Day

Posted on 29 Mar 2013 | 0 comments

Cashel 2The last post I wrote had to do with dust and ashes.

Death.

Sadness.

Grief.

I sat with friends and family who had to say goodbye. And in that saying goodbye, there were so many different kinds of grief. There was the grief of death – that someone had died. But the lingering grief is the one that most people don’t talk about. It’s the grief that comes in a million little deaths. The death of dreams.

I’ve had to watch people I love desperately have to figure out a whole new way to live. The death of the “first call” – you know the call you always make immediately when you want to share some news? Or the death of the summer plans, when you have to start thinking about new things to do with the time you already had requested off.

So every little death adds up and it’s like grief keeps rippling over you in waves. Like the anti-orgasm. Instead of life and joy and love, it’s just pain and sorrow and doubt.

So you move on. And you keep on keeping on.

So when I think about Good Friday, and what it is supposed to symbolize, I have to look at grief all over again. How did God grieve? What about Jesus’ grief? The story is saturated with not only pain and suffering and death, but betrayal and fear and hypocrisy. Blood, sweat, tears. A million other authors have written about the pain and humiliation of the crucifixion. I don’t feel like repeating it. Because it doesn’t sit well with me. I’d like to believe that I’m different, that I wouldn’t have abandoned my best friend, my deepest love, the one I would claim to die to follow… I’d like to believe that I would have loved him. That if it had been Aaron on that cross, I wouldn’t have been afraid.

But I’m really weak. I’m so unbelievably fragile and I don’t always have the strength to stand with those I love. I don’t always even REMEMBER to text or call the people I love and tell them so. Would I have been a John or Mary sitting at the foot of the cross, or would I have been a Peter.

I know that in the past, I’ve even been a Judas. Betraying God even while I kiss Him on the cheek.

How does any of this make sense or even translate remotely to good?

What was God thinking? I mean, how does His grief even begin to become imaginable? Looking at the only perfect person, His only Son, and allowing Jesus the choice of moving into self-sacrificial love. Did He cry when he saw the hands pierced? Remembering the tiny fingers that held onto Mary & Joseph’s fingers when he couldn’t even speak? Did it move Him to see the weight of the world – pain, suffering – resting on His only Son’s shoulders? Did He grieve the million tiny little deaths that followed? All the things that Jesus would never experience – like growing old and having grandchildren?

When my friend died, he spent a number of hours on life support. My husband said something that rattled me to my core

He must have seen something for her that was so glorious that he knew he had to let her go in order to give her the future she deserved.

Was that what happened on that day? Did the Father see something so glorious that He knew that He had to let go in order to give us the future we deserved?

I can’t imagine what it was like to live before that day. Before GRACE. Before self-sacrificial love set the precedent for who God is.

Because the reality of God is self-sacrificial, tender, world-changing LOVE. It’s the kind of thing that changes the world.

It’s the kind of thing that looks at the grief of the cross, and says…

For the glory in front of this action, for the way in which it will change people for the better, for the LOVE that this extends to overcome evil in the world…
For these things, I will let go of my expectations, my plans, my priorities. I will surrender and trust that this death means something.

And because of all of that, today is called “Good Friday.”

And because of all of that, I took the mess of my life, all the disasters, the horrible things I’ve done to people, and the horrible things done to me. And because of all of that, I can let go and say…

For the glory set before me, I will let go of myself and live thoroughly in self-sacrificial love.

It is always worth it.

 

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Dust and Ashes

Posted on 26 Feb 2013 | 0 comments

I’ve spent most of my life trying to make sense of things. Thinking about things, pondering, and getting everything together in my head.

But sometimes things don’t make sense.

Sometimes…

Things crash into you like a comet from the sky and all you can feel is pulverized.

Helpless.

Hopeless.

What does life look like now?

When the fire and the smoke and the dust and ashes clear, what does life look like now?

And just because they’re clearing for me on the outskirts, what about the people at ground zero?

Covered in dust and ashes, groaning under the weight of loss.

I feel like a roadside gawker, transfixed by the accident.

I can’t look away, but I feel so helpless.

Job 2:12-13

When his three friends saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief.  Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.

I know that the suffering is too great for words now for some of you.

And there are no words that will make any of this make any sense.

Because sometimes things don’t make sense.

Sometimes…

Things crash into you like a comet from the sky and leave you desolate.

So all I can do is journey back to you from where I am, journeying back to join you in the dust and ashes.

No platitudes or empty words or anything else.

But I do promise to sit shiva with you.

To not speak, but to simply be present (in spirit and later in person) and offer the only words I have.

I’m so incredibly sorry.

This is so unfair.

I love you.

Ha-makom yenakhem etkhem b’tokh sh’ar a’vaylay.

May God comfort you among the other mourners.

In loving memory of John Clifford Peters.

You leave a legacy behind that is irrevocable.

You will be deeply and tremendously missed.

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10 Steps to a Better Political Season

Posted on 3 Oct 2012 | 0 comments

Dear friends,

Wordle: Declaration of IndependenceThis letter is primarily addressed to those of my friends who consider themselves biblical Jesus-followers. So if that’s not you, feel free to read or pass this along, but I’m pretty aware that the laws of proper societal etiquette don’t hold you to these statements. That being said, I think that there are some principles in here that apply across the board – “don’t be a jerk” being one of them. But, however, if you do consider yourselves in that category, can I ask you to get to the end before commenting or ranting or otherwise going a bit elemental here?
As a Christian, I am significantly concerned with the way that the Church (big C, universal) in the United States is handling political dialogue. With the election coming up, more and more Christians are beginning to play the world’s game of political dialogue, which is “If I can yell louder and talk nastier about the political candidates, I might make someone angry enough so that they don’t vote for their guy.”*
I’m going to ask some difficult questions, go through some deep thoughts I’ve had recently about what the New Testament text has to say about authority and the way we are to behave, and offer some practical steps for the church in the coming month.
In general, there are about three times as many mentions of the word “love”(or compassion, gentleness, kindness) as there are mentions of concepts regarding “truth.” We as the Church have become far more concerned with loving to speak the truth than we have been with speaking the truth in love.
The next time you question or argue with someone about their political choices (and in this I’m talking to both sides), I encourage you to ask them afterwards “Do you feel loved right now?”

It should be our absolute checkpoint. Our bottom line.

Feel free to skip down to the “10 Steps” practical part, but I encourage you to read it all when you have time.

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