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1/28/2009

"Elders" Were Not Just Men

As has been shown from the O.T. examples, there were "elders" and "wise women" in just the same manner as male elders and leaders. Indeed, in the New Testament the term used as "elder" merely means "older people" and the same term or its relative is used when referring to both old men and old women. In Acts 2.17 when Peter quotes the prophet Joel, "your old men shall dream dreams..." it is "your presbuteros shall dream....". There is no formal "office" suggested in many of these texts as well..

Research Question: Are the "offices" divinely ordained?

A researcher has suggested that the issue of women not being in leadership is the difference between "gifts" which are given to all believers and "offices" that are specifically set aside for men (Bishop, Deacon, Elder, etc.). If that true, however, and can it be proven from scripture and history? An intriguing question indeed.

Who Sinned First?

There are many Biblical chestnuts pulled out to limit woman’s participation in the Christian Church. Women cannot be in leadership, cannot preach, cannot teach, and cannot speak because of such verses as 1 Timothy 2:14 (King James Version):”And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression”.

The message is clear that Eve sinned and therefore she should not act in any of those roles mentioned or utilize any gifts for the corporate body. Adam in this verse is an innocent.

Timothy I & II are commonly attributed to Paul and it is suggested the books were written about 60 C.E. – some thirty years after the death of Jesus. This statement, however, appears to contradict other statements by Paul found in Romans (dated to the 50’s C.E.).
[1]

Let’s review the account of the sin in Genesis 3. The Tempter in the guise of the serpent came to the woman. Why the woman? This section falls directly after the second creation account explaining her origins and after how they are now to be ‘one flesh’ She had been told the rule…but apparently not taught its significance yet. The couple eats of the fruit, move from a state of innocence to one of awareness, and hide from God. When God locates them, he asks by what means they came to lose their state ignorance and innocence. The man then says, “The woman you gave me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” A strong argument of ignorance can be made for the woman but for the man is a conscious decision to both do that which he knew to be wrong and then to try to avoid his own responsibility.

In God’s eyes, the HUMAN was both male and female crafted in the image of God. Only later, through rabbinic commentaries, philosophers, and other writings will Adam be shown in the same light as in 1 Timothy. Indeed, some writings show Adam as an “angel” who remained untainted despite Eve’s fall.
[2]

Romans 5.12-21, carries a discussion of sin and the need and means of repentance. In verse 12 Paul writes “by one man sin entered into the world” and v.17 ‘by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace…” and v. 19 “for as one man’s disobedience many were made sinners.” In 1 Corinthians 15: 21-2 Paul clearly writes “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of them that slept. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The word used is quite often the more generic Greek term, meaning humans or humankind. It is thus clear, that Paul’s understanding in Romans was that by the first human (seen as one flesh and thus gender was unimportant?) sin entered into the world

Why then would Paul say something so diametrically opposed to his early statements? Why would he switch the blame to Eve in such a manner? Paul refers to Eve in 2 Corinthians 11:3 but clearly says by his great subtlety the serpent “beguiled” Eve and he was fearful that the Christians at Corinth might be equally deceived. To be “beguiled” is to deceive, to give false impressions, or to present oneself as something different. The word is found elsewhere in reference to someone being deceived by riches, by false teachers, etc.

Looking at the section in 1 Timothy in context it is apparent something else may be at work. The verses preceding it . Chapter 2 begins with a call to prayer for the blessings of kings that all may live “quiet and peaceable life”.

In verse 8, the writer calls for all men to “lift up holy hands, without wrath and doubting”. Then the writer plunges into verses 9-15 dealing with the conduct of women “professing godliness”. Issues of hair and appearance are in verse 9 “modest apparel”, “not with braided hair” or “gold, or pearls, or costly array”. These were not normally a part of the grooming of women at that time. Indeed, if 1st Corinthians 11 actually teaches, as some suggest, that Paul demands women be veiled – why this directive at all? Why does not the apostle simply say to the women “wear a veil”?
So - when did women braid their hair with gold and pearls?

It is known that in the late 1st century and into the early part of the 2nd century the Roman Flavian dynasty (see images at http://www.vroma.org/~bmcmanus/flavian.html) set a trend with a flamboyant hairstyles on aristocratic women. They were so elaborate and strange that the satirist Juvenal even wrote about them.

The section just following this, verses 11-14, contradict Pauline statements in 1 Corinthians 11 and elsewhere. Rather than women being forbidden to speak, teach, or be active in other ways, Paul accepts as a norm in 1 Corinthians 11 that women will preach and pray (the prophecy refers to communication, or speech, of a divine imperative). Why does Paul contradict himself?

Finally, verse15 is a confusing and troubling verse that has vexed scholars for centuries. It infers that women are saved, not through faith in the salvation work of Jesus Christ, but through having children. This directly conflicts with Peter’s statements in Acts 4:12 that “neither is there salvation in any other…” Childbirth, clearly is not a means to salvation.
Second, it infers that the so called sin of Eve (v. 14) becomes an “unpardonable sin” from which womankind is never to find redemption. Compare this to Paul’s statement in Romans 3:24-25 “ Being justified freely by his grace through faith in his propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past…”

All this would suggest that the section in question may be a later addition to the letter or the letter may be a letter written by someone using the authority of Paul’s name (a common practice in the time). If not, there is a troubling contradiction of Paul’s writings and theology. Given the fact that a later time is suggested by the reference to the ornate hair styles, there is contradictory theology present in v. 15, and the fact that in the very next chapter (I Tim. 3) is a discussion of “offices” in the church, it is probable that the book was written later.

So, who sinned first? If one believes to be deceived is a sin then the text is that Eve sinned first. If one believes that that to be deceived is an act of ignorance and that to intentionally do that which is understood to be wrong, than Adam clearly sinned first. Yet, the emphasis is not one or the other. Both were seen to have sinned, both received punishments, and both had to be redeemed.

[1] New Interpreter’s Study Bible (NIB). Abingdon, 2003.
[2] R. C.J. “Adam.” Harper’s Bible Dictionary. Harper & Row, 1985.

1/27/2009

WARTS AND ALL

Are you perfect? Not me. I have two options, I can take myself very seriously or I can learn to laugh at myself. In our faith or religious convictions do sometimes take ourselves (or our forebears) a little too serious? They were not perfect - no matter how wonderful they were. We should beware placing anyone on a pedestal...it invites calamity and disappointment. They are human and they will prove it. Glossing over their foibles, mistakes, or outright sins is not more noble or Christian. Recognize in their humanity your own. See in their own faults and failures the potential in yourself to be less than you can be. The result will be less judgement, more understanding, and a lot less disappointment. Learn to see the truth, accept the good, reject the bad, and laugh at the warts.

A WOMAN'S VOICE

With age, come many observations how little things ever seem to change. In the early 1970's and 1980's there was great discussion about the evils of "feminism" and how it would destroy the world and the church. People would make fun of business women donning their 'business suits' (so often shapeless copies of male apparel) so they could be taken seriously around the office. In the '80-'90s came a rediscovery of color for women in the office and a sense it was okay for a woman to look like a woman and still be taken seriously in the workplace.
Strangely, there was less discussion about the evils of "prejudice" or "male oppression" in those early days . Less awareness or concern of their impact on that same society of world and religion. I note that even in religious groups that have tacitly accepted formally women as leaders, pastors, and in other roles in their ranks, there is lingering attitudes that go unchecked.
One I noticed many years ago and am troubled to see it still around. It is measuring a woman's ability to preach by the way men preach. For a woman to be expected to preach in just the same manner as a man will be to deny her value as a uniquely crafted being reflecting the image of God. Some basic factors will remain: the need for a good hermeneutic, the need to follow the rules of a good communication, and the need for a firm theological foundation. Yet, delivery, viewpoints, and conclusions may be different because a woman will approach the topic from a different worldview, a different set of experiences, and a different set of values.
That is what is needed - that variety of viewpoint that minds and hearts to come together in unity.
What is the result of all this imbalance of the genders? One extreme is hyper-femininity i.e., (June Cleaver cleaning the oven in pearls, the hyper-modest) and hyper-masculinity (Hugh Hefner, the man-cave, and girls-gone-wild). One extreme is a woman having to mimic a man in order to be seriously accepted and respected (the man-suits). Women for centuries have seen the Gospel through the lens of a male preacher and have had to accept that as the norm. The result is myopic, blinkered, and out of kilter faith.
The goal instead should be the embracing of the variety of voices and views found when both genders share their spiritual insights. Man and Woman are like children on two sides of their Heavenly parent - both see God but from a slightly different perspective. It is only when they are joined that a more total picture of God emerges...

1/26/2009

Anna - Role Model for Women Prophets

When the infant Jesus was brought to the Temple to fulfill the obligations of the Mosaic law, he was acknowledged by two prophets. One was an old man who came to the Temple. The other was an old widow who lived at the Temple.
Anna is role model for any woman of God. She lived at the Temple and devoted her self to a life of prayer and fasting. She constantly sought the face of God. Her prophecy would have been given to any and to all who came to the Temple fulfilling the numerous rituals of the Jewish faith. How many words of encouragement did she share? How many warnings did she give? How many tiny fires of hope did she fan to stronger life? How many small griefs and fleeting joys did she witness over the years? How many nights did she cry out to God on behalf of some soul in distress, on behalf of some national threat, or on behalf of some person's deep grief?
Are we living at the Temple? Are we giving our self constantly to a life of intercession? Are we listening for the voice of God? Are we bearing one another's burdens, loving each other as Christ commanded, or strengthening up the feeble hands all around us?
Look to Anna, the prophet, who lived at the place where God and Creation commune.

1/20/2009

Understanding Jezebel

"Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist. Be on your guard..anyone who does not abide in the teachings of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God. Do not...welcome anyone who comes to you and does not bring this teaching; for to welcome is to participate in the evil deeds of such a person." 2 John 1:7-10

In the O.T., she was the Priestess-Queen from Tyre married to Israel’s King Ahab. As a daughter of a foreign king, no doubt trained from birth, she could be described as being politically forceful and astute, she exercised a real position of authority (based on her use of the a royal seal and her hosting the false prophets at her own table), and being committed to, and actively engaged in, her pagan faith. As a religious leader (priestess) in this pagan religion, she actively promoted it, threatened the prophets of God, played host to the priests of the pagan faith, led the worship in this pagan faith, and actively persecuted the prophets of God. (Brenner, Athalya. The Israelite Woman. JST, 1985).

The next instance of the name, crops up in Revelation 2, where it is symbolically to represent a false leader in the church at Thyatira. The characteristics of this false leader are claiming prophetic authority to teach “fornication” and “to eat meat sacrificed to idols.” The person represented by the term Jezebel (it may be a man or a woman) has emerged from a church filled with good works (love, faith, service, and patience endurance, and obvious growth in discipleship).

Several ideas of interpretation exist concerning the book of Revelation. One is that the messages of the book are directed more to the time period and not to future events. If that is the case, it is known that several strands of Gnosticism and Montanism (an ecstatic philosophy of personal revelation and prophesy) were at work in the communities around Thyatira. It is also interesting to note that the terms “fornication” and “meats offered to idols” are in Acts 15:22-29 where the Jerusalem Council asked that of all the new Gentile believers they only follow those “essentials”.

So it seems most logical that the “Jezebel” of Revelation was a person who was promoting a “different Gospel” (based on one of the philosophies mentioned) and was tolerated by the otherwise worthy church. The mention of the terms “fornication” and “meats offered to idols” would seem to indicate the issue was doctrinal. The person, the “Jezebel” (male or female), was preaching a false doctrine and being tolerated. Perhaps, even as Ezekiel was frightened off by the first Jezebel (in 1 Kings 17), this Jezebel was frightening off or intimidating people (even true prophets) by their attitude of hyper-religiousness via these new revelations or special knowledge. The “orthodox” was being overtaken by the Gnostic and its hyper-mysticism and special knowledge teaching or the Montanist super-revelation and emphasis on the supernatural.

Instead of being some ‘demon” or “spirit”, as some teach, the Revelation Jezebel would seem to suggest that the church had forgotten the teachings of Jesus that a tree is known by its fruit, of Peter that the believer must test the teaching of the false teachers and prophets, and the reminder that “all scripture” is given for “instruction”. There is no need for secret teachings, mysterious rites of initiation, or “new revelation” and to allow such teachings , as John states, "does not have God."

1/19/2009

What Is The False Prophet?

Throughout the Bible the concept of the false prophet is found. In the Old Testament this person was one who -
1. prophesied from their own imagination, or heart, instead of saying what God instructed
2. prophets of another God
3. prophets who would only prophesy when paid to do so
4. prophets whose words went against the words of God
In the New Testament, there is also the term 'false teachers' and these referred to the people who went about the emergent church and preached 'another gospel' (such as Gnosticism or any of the known heresies). Sometimes these were Jewish-Christians who wanted the church to retain the laws and rituals of Judaism. Sometimes these were individuals who taught something that did not follow the teachings of Jesus or the Apostles. Sometimes these were followers of pagan Gods who wanted to draw the Christians into, or back into, the pagan rituals.

Not Feminism - Biblical Inclusion

For many people the term "feminism" carries with many negatives and even attempts to limit that to a "biblical feminism" have spawned their own problems. The term is too political for many, and too limiting for others. Even the more precise term "Biblical egalitarianism" finds itself in the same place - balanced between a rock and a hard palce. I much prefer the term "Biblical inclusion". I define it as "an awareness that God created all humans in the divine image; made them part of the divine plan; and includes them in the redemptive and missional process; God also includes them in the gifting process for the benefit of the total Body of Christ."
Biblical Inclusion is an awareness that mistakes in the translation of the Bible have often reflected male biases and current contemporary prejudices. For example, many times the Greek term meaning 'people' has been translated to read 'men' or 'man' to the exclusion of the intended mixed gender audience. So, for example, when 1 Timothy 3:1 is translated to say " Any man who desires the office of bishop..." it is incorrect and should read, "Anyone who desires the office of bishop..." Early church records from historic studies indicate that there were indeed women bishops and deacons in the church.

1/17/2009

Serving At The Meeting Place of God


Ex. 38:8 " He made basin and stand of bronze from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting". In reading this I was struck by how odd that "servants" (as many commentaries labeled them) would be camped out in front of this most holy area. It would be like the kitchen staff parked by the front doors to the White House...it made so little sense. Surely they were not cooking, washing, sewing, or nursing children in such a location?


Then reading Wilda C. Gafney's book 'Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel' it became much more clear. She indicates that the Hebrew in use there infers more the image of a guild of Prophet-Warriors. The Hebrew used - to reflect how God is termed a "Sovereign of Warriors" - infers a martial connotation: an honor guard or 'sanctuary guadians" (Gafney, 153) comprised of prophetic-warrior women. The mirrors, rather than being stereotypical icons of their womanly vanity (as some commentators have offered) become than possible warrior tools of signal or prophetic tools or icons of their roles as "seers" of a vision. (Gafney, pg.153-157). It then causes one to question if this was not a role that was in place in Ancient Israel right up through the time of Christ - in one form or another?


1 Sam. 2:22 " Now Samuel was very old and he heard how his sons were abusing the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting." Commentators have often labeled these women as serving girls, or even temple prostitutes allowed to infliltrate the temple life, but more likely is that they were women continuing the tradition of serving as prophets attached to the religious house as guardians, gatekeepers, prophets, and spiritual guides.


2 Chron. 34: 22 "...went to the prophet Huldah...who lived in Jerusalem in the 2nd Quarter, or the place of instruction." Authors have attempted to demote this prophet for centuries for various reasons and using various rationales. Recent attempts have been to demote her to a "librarian" (as a professional librarian I find this attempt to demean the prophet as particularly insulting - it infers that to be a librarian would have been a lesser, menial, or non important role. I think they mean to imply ( revealing their lack of research - I think they mean that she may have been a scribe or copyist). The truth is simple - she was a prophet attached to the temple, in a place known as a center of religious instruction and knowledge, her prophecies were respected, and she was honored for centuries after by having the nearby gates named for her.


Luke 2: 36-38 "There was also a prophet, Anna....she never left the temple but worshiped therewith fasting and prayer night and day...." The tendency has been to protray this woman as a shuffling old frail lady with nothing else to do but go live at the Temple - images of the widow and her mite are evoked. Simeon, the other prophet in the story, has to go to the temple but the woman is there already. I believe she was in the place of the women in Exodus, Huldah and in Samuel. A member of the prophet-warriors, prophet-teachers, prophet-prayers in which women had served the Lord for centuries....
Perhaps....the reason Jesus dealt with women was to restore them to their place in the worship of God as well? Those overlooked and nameless women who followed, as well as the named followers, were also "serving" at the place of meeting God and in a similar fashion. Not merely women who were "camp followers" but women who were disciples, prophets, guild members serving as "warriors", "guardians", and "disciples". If they saw themselves as a new phase of the old system of guardians - that would explain their presence at the cross in a most meaningful way...truly serving at the meeting place of God.

1/16/2009

New Read: "Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel"

Author Wilda C. Gafney has crafted a scholarly and insightful work on a neglected and even avoided subject. A short book - 222 pages of text - it covers an overview of female prophets in Israel and the ancient Middle East, it explores the female prophets in scriptures, the female prophetic guilds (funerary/musical and scribal), the term in Rabbinc and Christian texts, and looks at the prophetic constructions. (Fortress, 2008, ISBN 978-080006-6258-5).

For the Shelf: Ten Lies the Church Tells Women


Grady's book (http://strangdirect.com/xcart/product.php?productid=17508) is excllent and needed.

Add to Your Reference Shelf

The IVP Women's Bible Commentary / ed. Catherine Clark Kroeger and Mary J. Evans . ISBN: 978-0-8308-1437-4
Available from the publisher (IVP Press) or from Amazon.

A Mind is A Terrible Thing to Waste

Prov. 31:26 "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue." In the last century, it was common advice for someone to tell a young girl to never let a man know how smart she was. Brains were among the things that a young woman was told would drive off a man. Since 'getting a man' was her chief reason for being, this was important advice. So along with the old adages that " a girl who wears glasses will never get passes" and "blonds have more fun" was " a girl with a brain is always a drain." So - never be or appear smarter or as smart as a man, never be quicker, stronger, better, more capable, or skilled: lie if you had to, after all, all is fair in love and war. Too many woman did just that and entered into relations based on lies and denigration of identity. Women were to enter joyfully into an eternal childhood where they would always need a man to take care of them, control them, and use them. Women were inculcated with coping skills based on the manipulative struggle between Lucy and Desi on "I Love Lucy", the sex and siren of the Hollywood "sex kittens". the lies and trickery resorted to by Samantha on "Bewitched" or a dozen other twisted images of the relationship between men and women. Today there are still too many who continue this attitude. "Deep thoughts" are for men...they are something that woman should not "worry her pretty head over." God gave women brains and intellect to be used and to allow them to wither or be stunted so they fit the box of a sinful society or a manipulative hermeneutic is a waste...and maybe even a sin.

Biblical Scholarship in Perspective

An English professor wrote the words. "A woman without her man is nothing" on the board and asked his students to punctuate it correctly.
All the male students in the class wrote: "A woman, without her man, is nothing."
All the female students in the class wrote: "A woman: without her, man is nothing."
Punctuation is powerful.
This story illustrates what has often happened in Biblical scholarship. In many sections of the scriptures where decisions like the one above had to be made the biases, prejudices, and views of the scholars became clear. In using "men", for one example, in text portions where the correct term would be instead "people" or "humans", the meaning of the text was subtly shifted.

1/15/2009

'WISE WOMEN' AND 'MOTHERS'

These are terms found in numerous places in scripture and when compared to general history, they may constitute titles. A "wise woman" could be found in many cultures as a recognized position within a community. To define the word in relation to woman as only meaning "cunning", "craftsperson" (as a weaver) or "skillful" fails to apply equally the same use of the term for men. In a similar manner, "Mothers" can be a title in just the same manner that men of note were called "Fathers" in the Old Testament. It is seen as a honorific in the New Testament. The women who were "Mothers of Israel"may have been called that as a title of honor and it may be indicative of their role in the spiritual, cultural, or emotional development of their society.

1/13/2009

Needful for the Ages

Some people question why there is a need to address these subjects. Haven't these things all been settled? Aren't women a recognized and active part of the church? Aren't men less controlling or power focused? Hasn't the church grown to recognize the width of the people and their potential?

Here is an example of just why these issues do not disappear and the need to address them continues:

"Yet, he had this to say in a 'discussion' about weather a woman needed 'spiritual covering' to operate as a minister or leader:

A woman is not to be no "spiritual covering " over a man. A man is not to be submiting to a womans leadership,thats backwards!A pastor,bishop or apostles are only men as they are only men in the scriptures. A man is not to be submiting to a womans leadership,thats out pf order and straight anti-christ. All the men of the lord treated women the way they should be treated. And when christ chose his 12 they were all men,because christ knew the order.

1Tim 3:1 does say in the original language "if a man desires the office because when you keep reading down at the rest of the qualifications it says in verse 2 that he must be the HUSBAND of one wife,a woman cannot be a husband! And in verse 4 is says One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity....THE WOMAN IS NOT TO BE RULING THE HOUSE SO THATS HOW YOU DEFINETLY KNOW ITS TALKING ABOUT A MAN.THE MAN IS THE RULER OF TTHE HOUSE!

Phoebe was not a church leader,paul said she is our sister.
And junia is not a woman,he is a man,paul said junia is his KINSMIN,thats a male relative,and he was not a church leader,he was of note among the apostles but he was not one.

He gave them dominion,but adam was still eve's head,she was taken out of him and she was his helpmeet. Nobody is excluding women,but the role of leadership is the mans job,the women can teach other women and children but not men!

Nowher in the bible did women serve as pastors,bishops,missionaries and church leaders because thats out of order and against his word and any church that is doing it or has done it was and is in error!

im not wrong,the scriptures say what they say,you just cant handle it. Diakonan does not mean leader,thats a LIE. And minister just means to help.

The name junia is a masculine name and paul makes it clear this was his KINSMAN!Thats a male relative!A kinsman and kinswoman is two different things,junia is puls kinsman,not kinswoman!Junia is a man!

I never said eve was inferior but adam was still her head from the begining.And he made adam first showing his divine order,and help meet H5828 is only used twice in genesis,it is not in psalms.

Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Anna,Dorcas, Lydia, Phoebe were not no leaders!

Nowher in the bible does it say that!!And mary magsdelene was NOT no apostle!

Stop lying on Gods word!She was not sent on no special mission,all she did was tell the diciples that he is risen and to meet him in galilee!

THAT IS NOT PREACHING!And mary did not even go with the diciples.Why?Because thats when christ said to go teach all nations and that is not a womans job!

Nowher does it say mary was an apostle so stop lying on Gods word!And prophecy does not mean preaching or teaching!Those are seperate things!So stop lying on Gods word!"

1/11/2009

Scripture Thought

"...Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!" -- Numbers 11:28.

Compare with Joel 2.28, Ephesians 4.11. Reflect on the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the prophets and in the Church. Would we today, as modern prophets and communicators, be jealous of another who acted in the same manner? Would we have a gate keeper mentality? Would we be elitist as well? Would we recognize that in God's divine plan he has gifted the church with people who operate in certain skills areas for the purpose of doing the work of the Gospel. Some teach, some preach, and some do other things.....not on race, gender, or status in society (Gal.. 3.28). Can we do any less?

Why Are You Paying Attention to this Subject??

Why offer information about the role of women in the Bible, ancient Israel, early Christianity, and contemporary history? Because it is not taught, preached, used as illustrations (except as a negative) on far too many instances. People apply poor exegesis, bad hermenutics, and worse logic to far too much of their understanding of the role of men and women in religious life. I offer as evidence, respectfully, the following link as an example of the need for such a site as "Huldah's Gate"....http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080218183921AAlmJ3n

Prophet Guilds


According to several Old Testament experts, the pattern for prophets in Ancient Israel included gathering into several groups. There were independent prophets who went about, there were prophets attached to temples, civic-economic centers, or palaces (as seen with Huldah, Anna, and Deborah), and there were those who united into guilds. These last were similar to monks as they moved into together, trained, prayed, and communed with God apart from others. These often opened schools were they taught others and trained upcoming prophets in understanding and using their gift of communication and discernment. Some excellent sources include: Prophecy in Ancient Israel (Fortress, 1962); Israel's Prophetic Tradition ( Cambridge, 1982), Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel ( Fortress, 1952); Basic Forms of Prophetic Speech ( Westminister, 1967).

1/10/2009

"Renaisance Fire Alliance"


RFA is a program that encourages local churches, groups, and agencies to promote the reintroduction of the arts into the worship experience. For too long the church has abandoned the creative arts to the world....forgetting that God was the first to model that diversity, artistry, and beauty were key elements in life.


Through dance, music, painting, storytelling, poetry, writing, and sculpture God's love can be communicated, people can be drawn to consider their spiritual life, and be inspired to go on seeking God.


The Christian world has too long ignored the creative sparks God has placed in out midsts and we have too long said "such and such is worldly".... and the church has often become stale, staid, boring, ugly, and plain. The God who created the diversity of the natural world surely had better hopes for how our worship experiences should be.

Those Pesky Verses of Paul - Now Available!


Author Marilyn A. Hudson tackles a topic that has long afflicted many women in the Christian church. For one of the few times, the apparent limitations of women in the life of the church are examined by a woman. The words of the Apostle are balanced by examing the actions of Jesus Christ. Centuries of assumptions and "copycat" commentary are peeled away to reveal a world of new possibilities. The result may surprise some, anger many, and challenge all to reconsider "Those Pesky Verses of Paul."


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Endorsements for “Those Pesky Verses of Paul”:











In an era where Bible interpreters, commentators, and theologians emphasize the anthropological aspects of the vital contributions of women to Christianity and the New Testament, Mrs. Hudson places the emphasis of exegetical enterprise where it belongs…in the arena of proper and correct Christology.” Ken L. Young, Associate Professor of Bible and Theology




Marilyn Hudson provides more than an eye-catching title; in this work she delivers corrective to misnomers concerning the biblical portrait of women. Her conclusion that Jesus inaugurated an elevation of women to their proper distinction, and that Paul echoed that practice in the Church, desperately needs to be resounded in our day. With her stroke of a pen and sharp grasp of scripture, history and gender differences, this writer compels both men and women to re-examine ancient texts and contemporary interpretations in a quest to arrive at the truth.” Dr. Terry Tramel, Professor of New Testament




“Marilyn provides much needed balance in her examination of those “pesky” verses. Finally, a woman looks at the scriptures, sees the truth, and communicates it!”Anna Storm, Renaissance Fire Alliance


“Mrs. Hudson's work explores a subject that has plagued the Christian world for centuries. What role, if any, should women play in the ever-unfolding drama of the church? Rarely has there been unity of thought in this "arena." Her work is informative, innovative and intriguing. It states clearly and succinctly the examples from the scriptures that have been argued many times. She writes to declare truth rather than to "prove a point" or "make a case." Bound by neither time nor culture, she makes her presentation in perspective of both in order that the reader understands more clearly, what the doctrinal precedent is. Christ brought liberty to the captive--even the captive of culture.” C. Iaquinta, Certified Counselor and Educator



“Marilyn is…a skilled writer and storyteller…It’s so refreshing to have a balanced view of the role of women in the Bible – especially one that is written by a woman!"Megan Miles



For the first time I was able to read a woman’s perspective on these most perplexing of scriptures, Marilyn raises the questions that have puzzled, and disturbed me for years. She brings much needed sense and sensibility to the text. She handles them with a strong spiritual depth that preserves Paul’s place in the canon while bringing some much needed fresh air to the murky, bias layered texts…” Mary Brown, Educator

1/08/2009

John 5:8

"Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk..." John 5:8.

Jesus interacts to change circumstances.

1. Jesus notices the man.
Go down the streets of any major urban center and you can find people. Hurry through the local market or mall and there are people. Crowded on a city bus or train or elevator - there are always people. How often do we really see them? How often do we notice them to provide simple grace, human respect, or Christian love?
2. Jesus speaks to the man,"Rise..."
Jesus is not content to allow people to remain down i nspirit, down in circumstances, or down in limitations. Jesus will always give the command to "get up!" "Arise!" "Move!"
3. Jesus directs the man to "take up thy bed"...
There are no half-way measures with Jesus, There is no slinking back down, taking the easy way...ceasing to try....No! Jesus says "take up thy bed"...gather it all together and go...stop waitng around and stop depending on anything outside of faith in God. It does not matter what your "bed" is: health, money, relationships, bad choices, fear, insincrity, lack of confidence, addiction, sin, or confusion....what ever the "bed" is pcik it up and take control of the situation through the power of God.
4. Jesus sends the man away, changed....
Faith put into action...one foot in front of the other....heading off...into service...into witness...into mission...."walk!!"

1/07/2009

THE ALABASTER VASE: A Liturgy


Preparation: The altar area should be decorated with various sized ornamental urns, vases, and flasks. Worship leaders may wear appropriate first century woman’s dress, robes or plain clothing. If possible perfume or some fragrant oil can also be used to add to the experience.

Call to Worship: Christ awaits! How will we respond? Do we hesitate counting the cost to our reputations or how it might impede our stature? Do we hesitate because we fear how others will see our decision? Do we pause swamped by personal shame, guilt and a sense of our unworthiness? Christ awaits! How will we respond? How…how….will we respond?

Response (Four readers, storytellers or dancers):
Read or share from The Word:
Reader 1: Matthew 26:7-13
“A woman came to him having an alabaster flash of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on his head sat He sat at the table.”…. “But when Jesus was aware of it, he said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me…for in pouring this fragrant oil on my body, she did it for my burial…I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Reader 2: Mark 14: 3-9
“And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the Leper…a woman came having an alabaster flask if very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on his head…..Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me….She has done what she could…Assuredly, I say to you , wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Reader 3: Luke 7: 36-50
“..a certain woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table….brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at his feet…weeping, and she began to wash his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed his feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil….Simon I have something to say to you…” and then “Do you see this woman?...Your sins are forgiven….your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”
Reader 4: John 12: 2-8
“Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany….there they made him a supper and Martha served…then Mary took at pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair…”

The Witness:
I wonder, did Mary pause for moment as she pulled the alabaster flask from its place of honor in her life. Did she examine once more the lovely palette of colors – the fawn and the ivory and the browns as they waved through the stone? Did she open the flask and breathe deeply, one last time, of the fine scented oil that rested within? Did the scent of the oil that had cost so much….for which she had paid in so many different ways over the years… make her grasp it tighter for just a moment? Did she, for just a second or two, hesitate in her actions?
Or, so consumed with love and adoration for the changes made in her life by this one person, did she act with impulsive speed? Was she eager to rush to Jesus, the one who had restored her brother to life, who had given her reason for living, and who had caused a dream to spark into flickering life in her heart? A spark of hope that better days lay ahead replacing all the empty, fruitless, yesterdays? Did she, instead, grab the flask without a thought, without a hesitation, without a fear, as she dashed in childlike haste to the room where Jesus sat at meal?

[Lifting up one of the large jars or flasks, hold it high so all can see it and then replace it on the altar or table. If possible pour the fragrant oil or perfume out into another vessel so its aroma begins to spread or pass around an open vessel with aromatic oil or perfume]

What are the jars in our lives we have hoarded as too valuable to use? What treasures are we tempted to never share? What have we stockpiled for a rainy day that never comes?
Are we the complaining and corrupt followers who can only talk of wasted resources instead of seeing the restoration of relationships? Can we see no further than the interruption of someone deemed so unworthy or beneath our notice? What is released through the gift of the fragrant oil to rise up as an offering of love to God? What barriers or walls crumble under the onslaught of tears? Rising from the feet of Jesus –renewed and restored - what is His direction for us?
What is our precious alabaster flask? What have we hidden away for some future use? What is our oil? Is it the control of our life? Is it a relationship that has gotten in the way of our spiritual growth? Is it pride? Is it an addiction? Is it a dependence on friends and family instead of God? Is it a gift or talent that might enrich the world if released?
This scene shown in each of the Gospels is about love expressed without concern of dignity or rejection; it is about the sacrifice of things we hold to have value; it is about forgiveness so complete that to not act in thanksgiving becomes impossible; it is about recognizing the most valuable things in life are not our possessions, not our status, and not our looks, but it is our relationship with God.

[Lift the flask once more]

“Why trouble this woman?” the Lord said. Why trouble the repentant who wish to only express their devotion? Why trouble the person whose thanksgiving is passionate and dramatic? Why trouble the person who values the true things over the worthless?
Have you….dear friends…brothers and sisters….have you brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at his feet…weeping, washing the feet of the Lord with your tears and anointing them with the things you once valued…with the fragrant oil we once horded and treasured…
”Jesus says: “I have something to say to you…Do you see this woman,” he asked. She is every man and every woman in this moment. “Your sins are forgiven”, he tells all who will hear “….your faith has saved you. Go in peace -
Response:
“Stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage”. Galatians 5.1
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
“..For I will be merciful toward their unrighteous deeds and I won’t remember their sins ever again.” Hebrews 8:12.

Celebration:
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord.” 1 Thess. 5:23
“…the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from sin‘s law and death.” Romans 8:2.

Benediction:
May the God of grace, love and peace now affirm that you are the child of God, a daughter of faith, and a full member of the Body of Christ. This is the message of Jesus to all women and all men. As we remember her act of selfless love and adoration and feel faith stirred within us to kneel at the feet of Jesus and know we are forgiven.
Your life is the priceless flask opened to bless and anoint.
You are the treasure hidden and now released to show others the way.
The sweet aroma of grace and love surround you and all those you encounter.
Stand firm in the belief of Jesus Christ, the Elder Brother of the Redeemed, who is able to keep you and guide you and bless you all the days of your life.

Response: Amen!

The Game Shop by Marilyn A. Hudson

The bell of the shop sounded like a taunt as I opened the door and entered the dimly lit store. A stooped little man shuffled to the counter and peered over his half moon glasses at me. He moved his hands and large flakes of dead skin sloughed off like leaves in a brisk autumn wind.
He seemed to be older than time, more mummified creature than human being, until I looked into his eyes. A flash of something danced across the shadowy eyes and I told myself I was simply seeing things. Despite my rationale assurances, and the sweater I wore, I shivered.
“I didn’t mean to come in here.” I tried not to stammer but found I suddenly had little control. “This is a mistake. I must have come down the wrong street.”
“No, no, this is the place alright.” He stabbed a dry finger toward the front door. “The Game Shop. See, says so right there on the door.” He exhaled a dusty spore of breath and I realized he was laughing. “I’ve been expecting to see you come back one of these days”.
“I don’t want to play anymore games. I must have taken a wrong turn back there somewhere. I was following someone, and I must have lost sight of him in the crowd along Broadway.”
“So you say….”
“No, truly, I don’t want to play anymore.”
“Ha! I’ve heard that one before and told by some of the best.” He chuckled and the sound was obscene; as if a door to a particularly vile scene had been opened for a brief moment. “Here, take a look at these new arrivals. These little pets are used so much they are always being updated and reissued.”
He brandished his bony hand in a theatrical little gesture and pulled a box from beneath the counter. He shoved it across to me. “This game is called Pick a Little. Really livens things up, let me tell you!”
“’Discover the critic in you,’” I read. “’Tear friends apart just the bare tongue.’”
Halting as I realized what I was reading, I stepped back and shook my head. “I can’t… No, I am not interested in that.”
“Practice the art of creative invention,” he noted with a sly wink in my direction. “Yes, sir, that’s a goodun’.”
I knew this game and knew I had once played it like so many. It reminded me of a bunch of squawking chickens rooting around in the dirt from some sliver of food. Scratching, clawing, and digging in the muck for something morsel to devour. I began to feel weak, as if tiny biting beaks were already digging into my flesh. I shoved it hard across the counter. “Take it away!”
I turned then to find the exit, but the shop had grown dim, as if giant shadows huddled near, bending low to catch each whisper of sound. The aisles seemed to have grown together as well so that they seemed to obscure the faint square of light leading to the street. Clutching at my throat I realized that it suddenly seemed so hard to breathe.
“Ah, I know what you need. What you want. You like an action-packed game, don’t you?”
From the shelf behind he pulled another box. “Read that!”
“’Kill the Wounded’”. I read the name aloud and felt the words cleave to my tongue. I’d been on the receiving end of this vile game and the memory still had the power to make me ill.
“Yep, this one’s a real winner. This one is really popular among Christians. They are some kind of extreme players there, let me tell you. As I said, lots of players for this one, although not all my customers will admit to playing this game. For obvious reasons, they have to keep that part mum.”
The lurid cover of the box drew my yes. I saw a guerilla fighter holding an Uzi with bodies littering the background. I leaned in closed and saw a button on the soldier’s beret reading, “Smile Jesus Loves You.”
“With this little honey you can learn to kill people by telling them things “for their own good.” A sneer slashed across his face. Added bonus to this one, buy it and we through in how to kick ‘em when they are down. Now let me see, where did I put that other one?” With a giggle the old man found it. “Leaning closer he urged me to take a closer look. “This is for the intellectual,” he stated in a whisper.
He slid a book shaped like a human head across the counter. It was called the Two Faces of Steve. Suddenly I felt hot and breathless. I desperately needed air. “I don’t like your games. I won’t, I won’t, play them anymore.”
“Nonsense! Everybody plays my games.” He nodded to a far corner where a man browsed through a rack labeled “Golden Oldies”. I recognized him as a man I had seen in my church.
As I turned back I found another box on the counter. On its cover was a picture of a pile of human bones with a man standing on top with a flag.
“That’s a real best seller you’ve got there. Top of the Kill. Out sold even Two Faces, and that’s not easy to do. Here, take a look at what it says.”
As if he had strings tied to my eyes they followed his grimy finger to the text. “Climb to the top over their dead bodies. Be the best – be the most spiritual – the most holy – no matter what.”
I stumbled back in disgust at the box and the man and the airless little hole in the wall of a storefront. I felt such a keen revulsion that I was dizzy. Yet….yet….there was a drawing power to the games that tugged at me. It was like a magnet pulling me, inexorably, toward them and deeper into the little shop.
“It’s not right to use people. It’s not right to trick people. It’s – “
“Are you telling me,” he sneered. “Or trying to convince yourself?”
“It’s wrong….”
“Highly useful though. You have to admit, it saves a lot of time too. Don’t be such a spoilsport. Join all your friends”
“It’s a vile little place-”
“I’ll have you know,” he fumed, “that this little store does a brisk business! Oh my yes, this a mighty popular little place to shop,”
“Christians,” I leaned in across the counter and said through gritted teeth, “Real Christians, don’t do these things!”
He cackled again. “Everyone plays them. Nearly every one of my customers is a Christian.”
The bell clanged as another customer slipped in and, seeing the boxes on the counter, grabbed at them like a greedy child. The woman dragged a handful of bills from her bag and hurried out of the shop with a triumphant air. A heavy black tide of nausea surged through me as the bell and the old man’s laughter mingled.
There was anger also.
“No! I’m tired of these miserable little games. I’m sick of people destroyed by your kind….yes, and my kind. Our kind. I’m sick of people who can only destroy and harm other people. I’m fed up with you and this… garbage you peddle.’
“Garbage? This is a high quality establishment with only the finest stock. Tired are we, Miss Hoity-Toity? Give me a greenback for every time I heard some sad-sack says that! Take a look around. People keep me in good business.”
The bell clanged again as if to emphasize his claim and another shadowy figure slipped into the dank little shop.
“Yes. They keep me in a mighty good, even brisk, business at that! So go on get out here! Leave. See if I can even care. You may get tired but there are plenty more. I may not see you again, but they’ll keep me open. Just watch and see.”
As if my newfound determination had cleared the air, I could see clearly out the hazy windows into the street beyond. Like a drowning swimmer bobbing back into the fresh air and sunshine, I darted out the door to the street beyond. I breathed deeply in the bright sunshine feeling as if I needed a hot shower to cleanse me of an oily taint that could stain the soul.
At the head of the street, I caught sight of my companion. “How had I ever lost sight of him?” I hurried to catch up. He saw me and stopped. He motioned for me to catch up, and as I joined him on the street, I heard the shop’s tinny, off-key bell ring once more.
“A squeaky door opens as a new customer creeps in…
A jangling bell speaks in a shop with no locks…
The shopkeeper smiles a wide toothy grin….
As he turns to take down another shiny box….”
--Originally published in the IPHC Advocate. All rights returned to the author.

1/06/2009

Waters of Refreshment



Water is a primary subject of the Bible. From the opening verses of Genesis to the final pages of Revelation, water is used to illustrate the life-giving, renewing, dynamic, and cleansing aspects of spiritual life. Rituals of purification outlined specific methods of using water to cleanse (running water, fresh water, etc.). Still waters were a symbol of the peace and calm found in the care of God. Might waves and thundering flood waters portrayed the forces that could not stand before the love and forgiveness of God. The depths of the seas became bottomless accepting the sins God had forgiven. The desert lands brought to reality the urgency and need for fresh, cool water just as the parched soul longs for relationship with God.

1/04/2009

Was Miriam an Egyptian Priestess?


This is an academic discussion that, unfortunately, has found its way into the writings of some religious leaders who wish to limit women's leadership or have some other agenda. Some writers have suggested that the dancing led by Miriam was a "rebellion" or "revolt" and that it displayed elements of the worship of the Egyptian Goddess and her son Horus. Those who hold a loose understanding of scriptural inspiration will likely accept this as a possibility. Those who view scripture as more divinely directed, inspired, or preserved will not. The truth, as is so often the case, may rest somewhere in the middle.



The problem is in reading back into an ancient text what is believed by some people today and thinking the same beliefs prevailed then. Divine truth does not change - Human social constructions do and frequently. The perceived limitation of woman are often read into a text by people with an agenda of limitation or restriction. A situation with one individual is then used to blanket all other individuals and limit their participation.



If it is believed that early Hebrews did not have women leaders and prophets, then the evidence that they did serve in religious roles is twisted or ignored. If the current view is that women cannot be in those roles they must have always been excluded.



There is no good, logical, or factual reason to suppose that ancient woman did not fully participate in worship and rituals of the God of Abraham. Indeed a close reading of several portions of Genesis, Exodus, and other early writings show women doing just that. Even into the histories of Samuel, Kings, and the prophetic book of Isaiah reveal the presence of women. Some, just like their male counterparts, are good and some are sinful. They are, however, clearly there. It is only later, as commentators and preachers from a culture of limitation and exclusion began to formalize those views, that women were truly excluded.



Was Miriam a false prophet? The scriptures clearly show that she was used of God, she responded as a prophet, interacted with God as a prophet, and was recognized for that authority with respect. She is later the only woman prophet to be named outside the story that introduced her originally and when so named by Micah it is an honorific coupling her with both Moses and Aaron.



If Moses was the Deliverer ( a type of the Christ-Messiah), Aaron was the First Priest, than most clearly Miriam must assume the role of the First Prophet. Moses demonstrated the beauty of a close relationship with God, Aaron's line became the means to keep the people close to God, and Miriam the first of a long line of prophets who would call to repentance, recall the words of the Lord, and encourage the people to live as a people of the one God.


EARLY WOMEN IN MINISTRY

Exodus 38:8 (KJV)
"And he made lavers of brass, and the foot of it brass of the lookingglasses of the women assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." Other translations clarify this to read "mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting." (New Interpreter's Study Bible, Abingdon, 2003). From what we know from the evidence of Miriam's entry into the "tabernacle of the congregation"(*) with the Lord and Huldah's presence in and around the temple, these too may have been prophets to whom the people went for instruction or a "word from the Lord".


(*) Numbers 12.4-5. Note that although Miriam and Aaron complain because of the marriage of Moses to another woman. God called out to Moses, Miriam, and Aaron..."Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the taberncale....." God then affirms that it is God who calls the prophet and gives the prophet their directions, often through, through visions and dreams. This section is not about condemning Miriam - for being a prophet as some suggest -but in a disciplinary action so that the difference between the intimate relationship being modeled between God and Moses could be fully realized. The formation of the Priesthood and the Laws would be the means of instructing the people and the prophets would be there to instruct and call to repentence. For Christians this is a foreshadow of the relationship made possible through Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3:21-25 this is made clear by the Apostle Paul: " Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, ...righteousness should have been by the law....But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." (KJV).

1/03/2009

WATCH OUT FOR VAMPIRES

Everyone knows about vampires. For a mythical creature the concept is pretty commonplace: Count Chocula cereal and a Counting Vampire on children's television. The legend is a part of common culture via movies, songs, and books. The classic European legend of the vampire is one that says this monster sleeps by day, hunts by night, and lives off the blood of others. They can mingle un-noticed among people. They hate crosses, garlic, and can be killed by a stake through the heart by a fearless vampire hunter.
There are, however, other vampires that walk the world, monsters who enjoy destroying with as much glee as their mythical counterpart. Unfortunately, these monsters are all too human.There is the vampire who lives to drain others of the joy of their life, sapping the energy, and plunging people into a reflection of their own miserable lives. They can sap the life out a room in mere minutes. The glass is always half empty. Things are always miserable. They carry with them a cloud of corporate guilt, shame, blame, and fault-finding.There is, however, an answer to this monster. As things that destroy they are a reflection of a serious spiritual condition or problem.
Spiritual monsters require spiritual weapons.Just as mythical vampires require a stake in the heart - the real vampires also require a stake to enter their life. This stake is the cross of Jesus Christ. It is powerful beyond measure. Mythical vampires can be killed by decapitation with a sword and real vampires can also be bested by a full knowledge of the use of the Sword of the Word (the Bible). It contains the secrets for besting these monsters and is sharper than any metal sword with two razor sharp edges!
Author G. K. Chesterton wrote "Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed." Watch out for vampires, YES" ......but be a vampire killer (in a manner of speaking) instead of a vampire victim. As for me....I am loading up on crosses, holy water, and the Sword of the Word...just in case.

What the O.T. Laws Said About "Prophets"

Deut. 18: 18-22

  • God will raise up prophets "from among " the people.
  • God will put the words in their mouth;
  • The Prophet will then speak all of the words God gives.
  • God requires the person listening to take heed to the words - because they will be held responsible.
  • Prophets can "presume" to speak words they think are from God but are really their own ; Prophets can speak in the name of other Gods:
  • The result will be the same - they shall die.
  • The standard to measure a prophet is simple: If they speak in the name of the Lord and the thing doe not comes to pass...do not fear that prophet as a communicator of God's word. They speak presumptuously or in error or in a worst case, falsely on behalf of other Gods.

Later, this will lead to what Bible scholars call "prophetic speech", a manner of speech that is adopted to demonstrate their authority and position as a prophet of God. As one reads the prophets over and over again the preface will be "Thus saith the Lord". This is the "prophets formula."

1/02/2009

She Who Walks Between The Worlds


SHE WHO WALKS BETWEEN THE WORLDS
I am she who walks between the worlds;
That old and lonely place, Lost place.
Void of all who care.
The fertile moment before the moment,
The pause between each breath.
The void before the deed
The vacuum before the place.
And the sound before the bell;
The in-drawn breath filling the great bellows of the surf
And the lull before the storm;
The ticking second between the lightening and the thunder-
And, the idea before the word.
Caught forever in that old and lonely place, Lost place,
Void of all who care.
I am she who walks between the worlds;
Bridging past and future;
The mighty warrior of the truth.
The vacuum before the place
And the sound before the bell
The indrawn breath filling the great bellows of the surf
… And the lull before the storm.


--Marilyn A. Hudson (C2008)

1/01/2009

Miriam: Early Prophet


Who was Miriam? Her life and many of the details are absent from the Bible. This is often the case because the Bible is not a biography that chronicles and explains every detail of the events it includes. No, the purpose of the Bible is "instruction" in larger images and meanings than mere dates, places, and names. It is assumed that she was the sister who placed the baby Moses in the basket and offered to get a "nurse" when the Pharaoh's daughter pulled the baby from the water in Exodus 2. She is next mentioned, if it is the same person, in Exodus 15 where she is identified as sister to Aaron and as a prophet. She leads the women in a celebratory praise poem and dance. Herbert Lockyer identifies her as being assistant to Priest Aaron, as the "chief singer" using the timbrel (a small hand held drum). The ode to God and the victory of Moses is one of the oldest in the scriptures.


When did she become a prophet? Some suggest that she was a prophet of the Egyptian Goddess during their captivity. This does not make much sense, given the picture of the family in Exodus. In many ways they had to teach Moses the ways of the people of Abraham's promise so most probably Aaron and Miriam, and others, were already recognized as those who kept the fires of faith burning as they awaited their savior and deliverer.

Strangely, much of what we see of this woman involves water: by the river side, by the sea, and in Kadesh, after her death, Moses strikes the rock to get water when the people complained. Water, to people in a desert, arid land, was a precious commodity of great value. It may be significant that so much of the sparse details we have of this woman connect her with the life giving, restorative water.

Some suggest that Miriam is an example of a woman getting out of her "place". Some suggest that Miriam - leading the singing and dancing - had acted in sin. This is not the case at all. Miriam's sin came later as she complained about the wife of Moses. She complained, say some, not because of the race of the woman (probably an Ethiopian) but because she was a foreigner not familiar with Israel's faith. (Lockyer, 114).


I think that what is seen there is Miriam coming to grips with the fact that she could no longer be "big sister" to Moses. She had to allow Moses to grow up and assume his own place and make his own decisions. God strikes her down for her complaining and trouble making, but notice the events that follow. The entire camp refused to push on ahead until she had been healed of her ailment. Yes, Moses was the high profile leader, but all leaders know that it is the generals and the commanders under them who keep the army together and carry out the orders. They need each other and they had to learn to be in unity. This is the message , the subtext as it were, of this section of scripture.


During those seven days - the number of creation - what was created anew in the heart and life of Miriam? What lessons did Moses learn? Aaron? The wives and the people? She she was disciplined for her hubris in challenging God's choice of Moses as supreme leader but did that make her forever an outcast? Did she no longer serve? Did she hide away forever after that time?


Did she learn that there is a difference between power and influence, as Lockyer suggests (pg. 115)? "Loose lips sink ships" warned the posters of the great wars of the 20th centuries, and both Moses and his sister learned that loose and careless speech has a power to destroy and break apart the unity of the faithful. Both were barred from entry into the goal of their long journey as the result of careless speech.


Was her song forever silenced by the discipline she experienced? That would be so unlike a God who loves and cares. One wrong step does not mean you are eternally set apart from redemption or from fellowship with God. No, I suspect that for the remainder of her life she found a new song, a new poem, and in her prophetic statements was a new depth and spiritual maturity. This is apparently born out by the fact that when she died the people mourned her for 30 days and like her note worthy brother Moses, her grave is hidden. "Sing ye to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously: the horse and the rider hath he thrown into the sea."

Biography

Biography
Noel Brooks: A Life Shining and Burning, 1914-2006

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Waiting...Renewing...Moving

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God

Huldah's Gate Badge - Men and Women Before God
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Contact Information

If you would like more information on implementing a Daughters of Huldah or a Sisters of Huldah group in your church or community, or in starting a RFA chapter please contact:

Marilyn A. Hudson
marilynahudsonATyahoo.com
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