Created with Sketch.
9 minutes | 2 years ago
Three Questions to Challenge – and One to Encourage – Your Answer to God’s Call - Kim Cape
Kim Cape explains how ministry in a rapidly changing world like ours requires dianoia – loving God with one’s mind, loving God with the way we put things together, and loving God with the way we put our world together in the name of the Gospel.
13 minutes | 2 years ago
Difference is an Asset -- Rev. Tiffany Knowlin
Tiffany Knowlin, of the South Carolina Area of the United Methodist Church, explains how believers must be deliberate in our effort and our commitment to honor and respect difference as we work together to worship the one living God. There will be difficulties and challenges to work through, yet as we do the work of the kingdom, fear of rejection, fear of acceptance, and fear of division cannot reign.
22 minutes | 2 years ago
Finding Our Voices: Speaking Truth in a Context of Fear in Viet Nam -- Quynh-Hoa Nguyen
Quynh-Hoa Nguyen, a UMC missionary in Viet Nam, shares how patriarchal hierarchy, sociopolitical vulnerability, and an otherworldly, deterministic theology have reinforced fear and silence among the evangelical Christians in Viet Nam. She uses the Exodus story to challenge Vietnamese Christians to embrace courage and freedom, to find their voice, and to speak truth that has been silenced in the presence of power.
7 minutes | 2 years ago
Empowered to Go! -- Rosanna C. Panizo
Rosanna C. Panizo shares how at a gathering of Peruvian Methodist women in October, she realized the Holy Spirit keeps moving beyond our imagination and perspectives. “We learned again that we, as part of the people of God, can have different and even opposite experiences of life. If we are willing to listen with the purpose of understanding each other, and not first reacting to what we are listening to, then the Holy Spirit will work in us and through us.”
13 minutes | 2 years ago
Identities: Fibers of a Sacred Yarn -- Grace Cajiuat
Grace Cajiuat, of the Wisconsin Area of the United Methodist Church, shares how when we learn of and from our identities, we can better develop and practice humility, curiosity, and empathy: the three traits that can hold together our integrity in the tapestry we are trying to weave. When we take the time to discover the fibers/identities that make the yarn, we align love with truth that makes the weaving that is the “kin-dom” of God.
11 minutes | 2 years ago
Leading in Changing Times -- Rosemarie Wenner
Rosemarie Wenner explains that unity doesn’t necessarily mean harmony. “If we insist on harmony, we will create an illusion and disregard the reality of those who are excluded, silenced, or forced to fit into our system. Conflict is not the opposite of unity. It is, instead, a lively expression of seeking reconciliation of interests.”
15 minutes | 2 years ago
Behold! The Blessed Promise of Unity -- M. Kathryn Armistead
Kathryn Armistead, of the Tennessee Area of the United Methodist Church, makes a plea for unity and shares how disagreements within the church in recent years have overshadowed the Missio Dei: “We have failed to be an obedient church. We have not done your will; we have broken your law; we have rebelled against your love; we have not loved our neighbors, and we have not heard the cry of the needy.”
7 minutes | 2 years ago
Being a Worldwide Church and Holding Balance -- HiRho Y. Park
In the aftermath of the special General Conference in St. Louis, HiRho Y. Park shares how United Methodists need to optimize our commitment to worldwide connectionalism; localized regional culture, internal diversity; and global mobility. In a word, United Methodists need to update ourselves for life in the 21st Century. VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT
11 minutes | 2 years ago
And They Saw, and They Went -- Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, of the Louisiana Area of the United Methodist Church, shares how an encounter with Jesus can change one’s perspective for the rest their life. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit awaits. Listen now. 0:34 And They Saw, and They Went – By Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey, of the Louisiana Area of the United Methodist Church The next day John was standing again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus walking along he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard what he said, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi, . . . where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see.” So they went and saw. John 1:35-39 – Common English Bible 1:14 And they went, and they saw; or is it they saw, and they went? John is standing by with two of his disciples when Jesus comes along. John says, “Look! The Lamb of God.” The two hear what John says and they follow Jesus. In two verses, they followed Jesus! They don’t ask any questions. They don’t ask, “You sure that’s him? How do you really know, John?” What follows is a domino effect; Andrew, one of the two, goes straight to his brother Simon and says, “We have found the Messiah.” He leads him right to Jesus. The next day Jesus finds Philip, and Philip follows. I wonder if he was lost? Then Philip finds Nathanael, and says, “We have found the one Moses wrote about.” Nathanael is a bit sarcastic, and that’s when we hear his famous line, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Then it’s as if Philip double-dog dares him and says, “Come and See.” See for yourself! 2:18 This calling of the disciples comes quickly. There is a lot of seeing and hearing in the Gospel of John. The writer employs all the senses, which might help us understand why seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling might be important to believing. Once a person meets Jesus—once you see, and hear and taste and smell life in Jesus—you don’t see things the same way ever again. It is risky business to enter into conversation with Jesus. Who knows where it might take you? Sometimes it takes just two words: Follow me! When we traveled to the Holy Land with the ordinands in 2013, we had a magnificent guide. He is smart, knows his Bible and his history. He also comes from a long line of olive wood carvers. Actually, they are more than just carvers, they are artists. His father and grandfather were both artists, and now he is following in their footsteps. 3:19 On the trip, I fell in love with one of his pieces, truly a piece of art! It is Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. He agreed to carve a special piece for us that would be shipped to us later. Several weeks passed, and a magnificent—and I would add huge—piece of olive wood art arrived at the episcopal residence. It is far more than I ever imagined. We found a perfect place for it in our home, and it has become the center of a great deal of conversation. Last year, our guide visited Baton Rouge, and we invited him to dinner, along with several people who had traveled to the Holy Land. Of course, the olive wood piece was once again the center of conversation. The carving is so intricate. Jesus’ hair and eyes are unbelievably detailed. Someone asked our guide if he had a picture to follow as he carved. He said, almost nonchalantly, “No, that is just how I see Jesus in my mind’s eye.” I turned to him in astonishment and said, “In order to carve with this kind of attention to detail, you have got to not just see Jesus in your mind, but you have to see him from the very depth of your soul.” 4:32 I believe this is the kind of “seeing” the gospel writer is trying to convey. People in this gospel see—they come and see, they saw and they went, they see greater things, you will see the heavens open—this kind of seeing is much deeper. It is not just visual. In A Longing for Holiness, John Wesley wrote, “where the loving eye of the soul is continually fixed upon God, there can be no darkness at all.” To see with your soul is to see through the heart of God. Today we are called to “see” through the heart of God. There are several times in this gospel when people see and hear with more than just their ears and their eyes. 5:19 There is the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at the well, and she can hardly contain herself. A Jewish man talking to a Samaritan woman and at high noon! She runs back to her village and says, “Come and see this one who knows everything about me” . . . and you almost want to finish her sentence for her . . . “and loves me anyway.” She is so moved by her experience of Jesus and is in such a hurry to tell everyone in her village that she leaves her jar behind. As soon as her friends hear her story, they leave the city and are on their way. I envision the people being so moved by what the woman has to say (I find it remarkable that they would even listen to her!) that they too want to experience what she has experienced. They probably leave their soup pots on the stove and forget to lock the door (read John 4:1-42). 6:13 There are others who hear and see it and believe it. There is Mary Magdalene at the tomb. She doesn’t recognize Jesus until she hears her name. Maybe seeing and hearing is believing. It is risky to enter into conversation with Jesus. It might lead you to places you don’t want to go. Jesus has a knack for that and for making unlikely choices. He didn’t stand outside the temple waiting for holy people. God shows up most of the time when you are minding your own business. He calls ordinary people to extraordinary tasks so that we might share our story of God’s extravagant love. We have a story to tell. People invest in dreams they are part of. People want to be a part of your kind of story. I have this pesky problem when I read a book or watch a movie or a sporting event. I become a character in the movie or the book. If I watch a basketball game, I play every minute of the game or every down of a football game. I even get nervous on the Food Network cooking competitions, like Chopped, when they have only minutes to prepare an entree. I am exhausted when it’s over. I invest myself in the story, so much so that sometimes I stay up all night trying to “finish” the story or change the outcome of the game, or I think, “You know, if she had only remembered the secret ingredient.” 7:38 People want to be a part of a great story. Do you dream of a love story of ministry filled with the life-giving breath of the Spirit? We must be attentive to the stirring of the Spirit. Proverbs 20:12 reminds us that we must have ears to hear and eyes to see. The Lord made them both! I am not sure we can just see or just hear; perhaps it takes both to fully grasp the working of the Spirit upon our lives. Attentiveness is a gift from God, and it causes us to pay attention most often to what we don’t want to see. Think of all the times you haven’t paid attention and an accident occurred, or we missed the laughter of a child, the homeless woman, the hungry child, the sunrise. We must be attentive and open to the movement of God all around. God often shows up when we are minding our own business. 8:32 When children’s television host Mr. Rogers was asked why he talked so slowly, his answer was that the time between speaking and hearing was sacred. It is in this piece of time that the Spirit can take what is said and translate it for the hearer. This world is in a rush, and we rarely do one task at a time. We are multi-taskers. We don’t just drive; we talk on our cellphones and drive and juggle multiple tasks at work. The Spirit can work within all our rushing around. However, are we as good at noticing the Spirit if we never slow down? It is not likely that our world will slow down. However, maybe within the rush we can be like Mr. Rogers and create a space for the Spirit to move. Instead of listening and forming our reply, we can listen first for the Spirit. Then with fuller knowledge and understanding, we can reply. 9:32 What might happen if we first listen for the Spirit’s stirring? Is it possible we could discover the unexpected? We must be prepared to share our own experience of the living God. We have a story to tell, and people want to be a part of it. Sharing our story can be risky, but we are called to risk, maybe to risk it all so that the world might be changed. We must focus on that which will make for a different place for your children, your children’s children, and their children, that they might also have a story of faith to tell. Can you imagine what might happen if we focused—with laser-like focus—on leading people to Christ so that they might be changed people? Can you imagine living in a changed world? 10:19 We may not yet have eyes to see or ears to hear, but even then the Spirit will twist and turn and churn and weave our lives into a legacy that will set the world on fire. It will be more than you could ever imagine. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he asked, “What are you looking for?” They said, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and See.” So they went and they saw. Do you know where Jesus is staying? Come and See! 10:53 Thank you for listening to the WellSprings Journal podcast. Be sure to visit WellSpringsJournal.org to find more resources for the journey.
24 minutes | 2 years ago
Sharing Thoughts on a Worldwide Church -- Rev. Tracy Smith Malone and Rev. Barbara Dick
Tracy Smith Malone, of the Northern Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church, and Barbara Dick, of the Wisconsin area, draw parallels between the development of a worldwide church and the birthing process. “We are going to be in the womb together for a long time. Are we going to be Jacob and Esau, fighting in the womb all the time?” (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:34 Shared Thoughts on a Worldwide Church, by Tracy Smith Malone and Barbara Dick. We just love the fact that the theme verse WellSprings Journal has this season is John 16:21: “When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.” As women in leadership - clergy and laity, African American and Caucasian - we came to our hour-long Skype call as strangers. Our conversation was, at times, a call-and response of ideas and feelings, with many “Amens” and lots of laughter. We shared our stories and forged a bond of friendship as we “prophetically named” the racism and other isms that exist in the church and society and boldly proclaimed a revolution of love and reconciliation that tears down walls and holds us all in the womb of God’s love. Tracy defined “prophetically naming” as more than pointing to brokenness. It is naming existing opportunities and efforts to create environments or opportunities for vital conversations. Through vital conversations and relationship building we can have authentic conversations to name fears and anxieties and begin to work through some of the preconceived notions and myths about who people are, to really hear and learn people’s stories. Through storytelling, we learn that we have so much in common, so many of the same desires. That makes my heart have a desire to know your heart. And that’s what builds true sisterhood and brotherhood. And so, here are our shared thoughts on birthing a worldwide church: The Beloved Part 2:36 We pondered where clergywomen and laywomen can come together to share the stories that cross all those boundaries. As women in leadership, it really doesn’t matter if we’re clergy or lay. We have stories to share and important work to do together. Tracy shared that even as clergywomen attend national and international gatherings, they are often more like spectators than full participants. We agreed that we can begin to lead the way to break down those barriers between clergy and lay as women of faith. The idea of birthing a worldwide church evokes the whole realm of laity leadership in areas where clergy are not available. That’s an issue across the globe in ways that it’s not in the U.S., although it is also a concern in some urban areas and some deeply rural areas of the U.S. What if clergywomen led this movement of removing the line, blurring it? 3:40 There is great value in a trained, educated clergy to bring a level of scholarly expertise, a watching of the integrity of how we move through living out the gospel; but we have so professionalized clergy that the laity have in some ways been disempowered. And so, when we talk about empowering the laity, it’s a remedial step. It’s re-empowering the laity, waking them up to the power they already have. We sometimes confuse the role of the priestly function. We misunderstand that the holiness and the sacredness comes through the movement and the power of the Holy Spirit at work through the elements. Barbara Brown Taylor says it so well, that it’s the broken bread and the poured out wine for the world. And so, as we break the bread and as we serve it, those who receive it - all of us, lay and clergy - become the broken bread and the poured-out wine for the world. Again, it’s the Holy Spirit’s work, and that’s the sacredness, the holiness in the mystery of it all. 4:51 We, as women, have more potential to find a different approach to this - culturally, if not physically. If it’s not innate in us, it’s bred into us. How nice if we could inspire that, which exists in men as well, to grow, because that’s part of what’s missing in our sense of beloved community . . . the beloved part. Empowering is the language of the church now. So a better approach might be to embolden or to nurture. The Spirit of God is already in you, so we are stirring up the gift, bringing it to birth. We’re midwifing. The nurturing - that’s the birthing, the coming forth, the newness that comes through when we are open, nurturing, and allowing for creativity - not a threat but a divine opportunity. As women, we know about it. That’s our experience. If Jesus were a woman today, he might tell more parables about birth than about farming. We Know Birthing 6:00 Consider the whole birthing process, cycles that the body has to go through; you have to incubate. There’s nurturing and feeding, listening and rubbing and touching. There’s a level of intimacy that goes back to the relationships. Studies have shown that a baby born with no touch within a certain amount of time after birth has a higher risk of death. And then, of course, there’s pain involved. We sometimes want to shield ourselves. There is risk in being vulnerable, open to listening to your story, able to hear your pain; to take that on, and maybe even see my role in that, whether knowingly or unknowingly. That is the key when we talk about isms, the notion that somehow my story is a threat to your story. That’s absurd. My story is just my story. And it’s not for me to right it to wrong it or even to validate it, because I don’t have to. I don’t need your validation and you don’t need mine. Part of birthing is also the deep emotion that comes, and with that the tears and laughter. It’s all part of the experience. You don’t want to just be stagnant and going through the motions. Giving birth is something new, thinking out of the box and being willing to explore. If there’s going to be any creativity, if there’s going to be any change, if we are going to live in a new possibility, we have to be willing to explore, even the places that have not yet been trod. The Isms 7:42 It’s so hard when we’re talking about race and sexuality, and in some places, about threatening people’s jobs because we’re empowering other people to lead. It’s so scary for some people. The isms lead to violence because of suppression, and then people just violently act or violently speak. They say something that’s hurtful or harmful, any act of violence. Some of that is due to unaddressed, unresolved, fear and anxiety, lack of clarity - separation. We’ve got extremes of violence - violence in the news that we can’t deny or ignore - but even in the church, violence stems from and leads to denial, the inability or unwillingness to know. That alone is an act of violence. When we are willing to be vulnerable and transparent, that breaks down some of the barriers and the walls and more readily prevents me from saying or doing something that causes harm because I’m more in touch, more aware. Even if one person says something that may feel offensive or off-putting for another- if we have heard one another’s stories, we have the option of navigating that in a different way. If I don’t know who you are, and I don’t care about who you are, I care about my position - not my story - but my position, and I have no space to hear. In the Womb Together 9:17 So, our call is to intentionally create space. Then the space becomes the common place for us to talk through, work through—whether we agree or disagree—to still do it in love. In terms of the birthing metaphor, that’s the womb. If we’re going to birth a worldwide church, we have to spend some time in the womb together, being nurtured and fed and allowing God to fill us up with good things, so we can survive to develop our organs. The womb - that holy space. And the paradox of the womb is that even though it goes through such turmoil to bring forth life, the womb is also a holy place, a safe place where life is being shaped. And when we’re in the womb, we’re vulnerable, we’re not in charge - it’s the place where the Holy Spirit does its work. 10:18 It’s the same place that’s life giving, where the body is taking shape and form, as life is springing forth. There may be some tears, there may be some bruises, but that’s all part of the process. We are crushed but not broken. We are perplexed but not confused. It’s a wonderful paradox. It’s why Jesus spoke in parables. It’s so hard to grab on to this stuff and hold it in your hand. You really can’t. You have to let it kind of sift through and form on its own. We also love the image of the womb because, when we’re talking about nurturing life, we’re talking about cell differentiation. Each cell has a unique purpose, but cell walls are membranes, they’re not hard. They depend on each other. Cell walls are permeable, and cells are interdependent. And that’s the beloved community. Our opportunity is to bring that to life in community. It may be that the only way to do that is through this kind of conversation, to have the conversation and plant it and let it germinate. 11:38 Intentional relationship building and listening and sharing is a mutual sharing. As you share a part of who you are, and I share part of who I am, there are more spaces and places to be intentional—showing a genuine interest in one another’s s
22 minutes | 2 years ago
Imagine Strong and Prophetic Leadership -- Rev. Dr. HiRho Y. Park
In April of 2016, United Methodist clergywomen gathered to explore the theme, “Birthing the Worldwide Church.” In this episode, Rev. Dr. HiRho Y. Park reviews the progress that’s been made and looks at the challenges that remain. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit awaits. Listen now. 0:33 "Imagine Strong and Prophetic Leadership," by HiRho Y. Park, Executive Director of Clergy Lifelong Learning & the United Methodist Church’s Cyber Campus. 0:44 Oneness is something that many United Methodists are striving to understand as a worldwide church, especially what that means in the midst of gender, racial/ethnic, cultural, economic, and theological diversity among clergy leadership in the church. United Methodist clergywomen gathered two days prior to the World Methodist Council, (WMC) August 29-31, 2016, exploring the theme: “Birthing the Worldwide Church,” and engaging women leaders of the World Methodist Council (WMC). The gathering was held at the Hilton-Americas Hotel and Conference Center in Houston, Texas. 1:26 This Global United Methodist Clergywomen Gathering encouraged UM clergywomen to learn from each other in a variety of ministry settings and locations, an opportunity to envision, articulate, and participate in leading the worldwide church as women clergy. Gathered UM clergywomen across the world discussed what excites them about future global ministry opportunities and what would be the greatest global challenges facing UM clergywomen in the future. This special gathering strengthened networks of international relationships among UM clergywomen and other Methodist leaders, and most of all, we imagined a model of being a global church as women. 2:14 Let me share with you some history of UMC clergywomen. First, we have much to celebrate. In 2006, UM clergywomen celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of full clergy rights for women in the Methodist tradition. The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry organized the celebration in Chicago, Illinois. During our gathering in 2016, we celebrated sixty years of full clergy rights for women in the Methodist tradition and twenty years of ordained deacons in United Methodism. Deacons in the United Methodist Church are ordained to a ministry of Word, Service, Compassion, and Justice whereas elders are ordained to Word, Sacrament, Order and Service. 3:04 In 1956, there were 27 Methodist clergywomen who received full clergy rights. By 2014, the number of UM clergywomen had grown to 11, 388 active and 2,525 retired clergywomen, among a total of 54,474 UM clergy as of 2016, which means women account for 27 percent of all clergy. The number of female clergy grew 25 percent since 1992. 3:41 The number of lead women pastors serving churches with membership of one thousand or more has grown to 137 clergywomen as of 2012, compared to 64 in 2008. This is 114 percent growth within just four years. 4:01 The number of young clergywomen is growing also; 6 percent of elders are under the age of 35, 39 percent of those are female. Seventy-five percent of all ordained deacons are young clergywomen as of 2014. According to the recent report from the Lewis Center, “Young Clergy Numbers Grow among Clergywomen,” in the last ten years, the number of young clergywomen elders has increased 10 percent (31 percent in 2005, 41 percent in 2015), the highest in the history of The United Methodist Church. The number of young ordained deacons who are women has increased 12 percent (68 percent in 2012, 80 percent in 2015 of all ordained deacons). Women local pastors represent a quarter of the entire number of the group. 4:47 Along with the celebration, we have challenges to address, and we did. There are only 12 active female bishops in the entire UM connection, 10 in the United States and two in the Central Conferences as of 2015. In 2016, we elected seven more women bishops including four African American women bishops. Now we have 17 active women bishops since two women bishops retired. 5:18 Since then, 350 United Methodist clergywomen of Africa and 150 Filipina United Methodist clergywomen gathered in 2018 to affirm women’s leadership in the Church and society and to seek gender justice and equity within the church system. There will be two US based Southeast and South Central regional leadership development conferences of United Methodist clergywomen in 2019. 5:58 What does this all mean to The United Methodist Church? If this is “feminization of clergy leadership” in the church, what does that look like in the future? Here, I use the word feminization from the perspective of women advancing in ecclesial leadership and, of course, not supporting misogyny within Christianity. 6:21 How does women’s clergy leadership make a difference, especially when we are becoming, more and more, a worldwide church? There will be no simple answers to these questions. However, I believe that the time is ripe for United Methodist clergywomen to explore responses to these questions. The Global UM Clergywomen Gathering in 2016 was the perfect opportunity to do so. 6:47 We raised scholarships for those who receive minimum salaries and serve in Central Conferences since we wanted as many as UM clergywomen and seminarians as possible to be a part of this historic gathering in 2016. As a result, we were able to host 450 United Methodist clergywomen from 27 countries around the world speaking six different languages. 7:15 Let us pray for one another across the globe so that United Methodist clergywomen not only imagine strong and prophetic leadership for the future but also take actions to implement those dreams for younger generations of women! 7:33 Thank you for listening to the WellSprings Journal podcast. Be sure to visit WellSpringsJournal.org to find more resources for the journey.
17 minutes | 2 years ago
A Liberating Incarnation: Bodies, Suffering, and the Church - Dr. Hwa-Young Chong
Dr. Hwa-Young Chong, of the Northern Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church, shares how the incarnation of God in human flesh liberates us from all dehumanizing systems and structures of the world, so that we may freely and joyfully participate in creating our world as a more loving, compassionate, and peaceful place to be. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:32 A Liberating Incarnation: Bodies, Suffering, and the Church, by Hwa-Young Chong, Northern Illinois Area of the United Methodist Church 0:43 God in Human Flesh – The Word made flesh. How is it possible that the infinite and eternal God has found a home in the finite and temporal humanity? 0:56 At first, incarnation seems contradictory. God comes to our world as a newborn baby? God grows and changes just like one of us? God suffers and dies on the cross? How can divinity and humanity coexist? Yet incarnation powerfully tells us that, in God, the impossible is possible and the unimaginable becomes real. The good news is that the almighty God assumed human body, and by doing so, God became intimate and accessible to the human world. At the same time, God’s own embodiment challenges us to find sacredness in our bodies and to resist any abuse, violence, or injustice forced upon our bodies. 1:50 In our incarnate God, powerfulness and vulnerability become one. God enters our world as a “fellow sufferer.” Theologian Jürgen Moltmann even indicates that all the suffering in history is the suffering of God, when he writes, “There is no suffering which in this history of God is not God’s suffering; no death which has not been God’s death in the history of Golgotha.” As the one who knows the pain of tortured death, God suffers with all suffering bodies, and brings new life to our fragile world. Incarnation has a liberating message for all whose full humanity has been denied, harmed, and oppressed due to their bodily aspects. A liberating incarnation calls for a way of justice for all. 2:45 Bodies in the Bible – When it comes to understanding bodies, there seem to be conflicting messages in the Bible. On one hand, bodies are considered sacred. Both men and women were created in the image of God to reflect the sacredness in human bodies. Paul, in his letters to the Corinthians, affirms that Christians are the “temples of the living God” and human bodies are the holy vessels in which the divine Spirit dwells. Becoming one communal body in Christ brings healing and reconciliation, putting an end to hostility and enmity. The body, or soma in Greek, is used to express the state of “being in Christ.” According to Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, soma, as a key symbol in the early church, evoked “an emancipatory political symbolic universe and vision.” In this regard, body is a powerful symbol of a just community where all are invited to be one with Christ. 3:54 On the other hand, in traditional Judaism and in Jesus’s lifetime, some aspects of bodies—such as sick bodies, dead bodies, Gentile bodies, and women’s bodies — were considered defiled. A woman who gave birth to a son was considered unclean for one week, and a woman who gave birth to a daughter was considered doubly unclean — for two weeks. No unclean bodies were allowed in the temple, and unclean bodies had to go through a ritual purification. Such bodily conditions were used for segregation, discrimination, and exclusion. In this way, the sacredness of bodies was painfully ignored and denied. It is in the midst of both positive and negative understandings of bodies that Jesus reached out to all people. 4:51 Bodies and Jesus’s Ministry Jesus was well aware of the oppressive nature of condemning bodies. Gospel writers witness that Jesus’s ministry extensively involved those who were affected by bodily conditions: lepers, a woman with a bleeding condition, a bent-over woman, and people with visual disability. These people were declared ritually unclean and thus isolated from their communities socially and religiously. The social perceptions and practices also made it difficult for them to participate in community life. Jesus’s healing was, first of all, the healing of their physical conditions, but equally important was the restoration of their status in the community. 5:41 In the healing story of the lepers, Jesus asked the lepers to go to the temple and show their healed bodies to the priests, so that the priests would declare them clean and they could be included in the worshiping community. Jesus similarly declared that the bent-over woman was free from her ailment, indicating that she was not going to be socially restricted. Jesus also rejected linking the body’s condition to spiritual sinfulness. When he was asked whether a man was born blind due to his own sin or his parents’ sin, Jesus responded that it was not due to anyone’s sin. In a similar vein, Jesus ate with prostitutes and so-called sinners, those who were ritually unclean. In Jesus’s parable of the great dinner, when the invited guests did not come to the dinner, the host invited “the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame”, indicating that, in God’s kingdom, no one would be excluded based on their social or physical conditions, which was in contrast to the experience of those hearing the parable. 6:54 Jesus, the incarnate deity, defied the unjust laws that alienated people and served to oppress bodies. In taking on human flesh through Jesus, God challenged discrimination and prejudice based on bodily conditions. Jesus embraced stigmatized bodies, a powerful act in both our time as well as his time. In Jesus’s life and ministry, incarnation was a life-transforming and world-liberating power, far from an abstract philosophical principle. 7:31 Bodies and the Church – As we have examined thus far, in Judeo-Christian traditions, bodies were considered to reflect divine grace, and at the same time, were considered defiled. This ambiguity caused much fear, conflict, and division in the church. The bodily aspect of circumcision, which was considered both the physical sign and the spiritual symbol of God’s covenant, was at the heart of the early church’s intense struggle as to whether or not the Gentiles were part of salvation history. By the power of the Spirit, the Jerusalem conference concluded that circumcision was not needed to enter into the Christian community, which provided the springboard for the church to become an inclusive community. Had the insistence on circumcision remained a requirement, many of today’s Christians would not have been able to be part of the church. 8:36 Discrimination based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, and ethnicity are related intimately to physical features, sabotaging God’s call to embody diversity in the one body of Christ. Despite a painful history that has considered particular bodies to be dangerous, fearful, unclean, or inferior, the church today must live out incarnational theology and strive to be a place where all differently colored, sexualized, and functional bodies gather together safely and confidently. 9:15 Defying the Cultural Norms of Bodies – Incarnation indicates to us that our bodies are the dwelling sites of the divine, yet some cultural and religious expectations of our bodies have become barriers to fully realizing sacredness. The contemporary cultural ideal of women’s bodies as being thin and physically fit or men’s ideal bodies as muscular and athletic, for instance, tend to promote unhealthy stereotypical body images, and may also lead to psychological, physical, and even spiritual problems. 9:54 Conflicting messages about bodies also exist. In Korean Confucian tradition, for example, bodies are gifts from one’s honored ancestors and thus are to be respected. To harm one’s body is to dishonor it. The Buddhist tradition also values all lives, both human and animal, as sacred and worthy of awe and reverence. The practice of vegetarianism in Buddhism can be understood in the large context of respecting all lives and bodies. 10:28 Yet women’s bodies have not always been treated with respect. For example, in Confucian Korea, there was a social stigma attached to women who were childless, asexual, or married more than once. While such prejudices are no longer overtly shared in contemporary Korean culture, women’s bodies still “exist for men’s everyday living and to cater to the male ego.” A sense of shame often has been forced upon female victims of sexual violence, which deepens the trauma and pain inflicted upon their bodies. 11:07 A liberating incarnation defies such injustice done to our bodies. Incarnation powerfully proclaims that God became human in Jesus. Incarnation declares that all bodies are sacred, regardless of color, physical ability, age, fertility, sexual orientation, sexual history, or marital status. 11:31 Stories Written on Bodies – Our bodies tell our stories, and our stories are embedded in our bodies. Racism, sexism, alienation, oppression, fear, and horror are all written on our bodies. 11:49 I will never forget the first time when, as a graduate student many years ago, I met a comfort woman survivor. “Comfort Woman” is a euphemism for women who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II under Japanese imperialism. These women typically were teenagers when they were raped and tortu
8 minutes | 2 years ago
The Body Re-Members - Rev. Stephanie Anna Hixon
In this episode, Stephanie Anna Hixon, of the Susquehanna Area of the United Methodist Church, focuses on reconciliation and restoration. She says how the body knows and remembers reminds us that responses to traumatic events, violence, harm, or oppression are matters not experienced solely in cognitive ways. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:32 The Body Re-Members, by Stephanie Anna Hixon, of the Susquehanna Area of the United Methodist Church 0:40 She told me that the body remembers these things: the feel of wet heat of the summer, the damp smell of murky flood waters lingering too long, the anxiety of trauma revisited, the tenderness within one’s joints and soul. How the body knows and remembers reminds us that responses to traumatic events, violence, harm, or oppression are matters not experienced solely in cognitive ways. 1:09 The Spirit of Remaining or Abiding – While we often encounter the dichotomy of spirit and flesh in biblical tradition, the Gospel of John invites us to embrace the human and divine, the essence of spirit and body through water, wine, fish, bread, the touch of wounds, the staying presence of women, the familiar voice at the tomb. John provides fertile ground for Shelly Rambo as she explores the “middle spirit,” the power of the spirit remaining and abiding in Holy Saturday, between death and life. In “Spirit and Trauma: A Theology of Remaining,” she articulates a theology that refrains from moving too quickly to a triumphant resurrection experience, but persists with the power of spirit remaining, being present with, and giving witness to death and suffering. 2:10 Ruptures, Strains, and Disembodiment – Much of the experience of the world today keeps us intensely aware of violence, conflict, ruptured eco systems, stresses, and threats to a flourishing life. Even if we are privileged to be in a place of well-being, safety, and security, we are not far from vivid reminders of human suffering and hostile relationships. Deeper understandings of the impact of trauma, oppression or violence on individuals as well as the legacy of historical harms in communities calls us to reimagine what it means to be redeemed, transformed, reconciled, and made whole. 2:57 Powerfully rooted in women’s narratives of violence, coping, faith, and healing, Stephanie Crumpton writes in “A Womanist Pastoral Theology” against Intimate and Cultural Violence: “Women’s healing from intimate violence also involves recovering themselves from cultural practices that normalize violence committed against them,” Faith is the context from which women can both claim their distinctiveness in the image of God and challenge the culture, including that of church, that contributes to normalizing violence against them. 3:33 As a mother, pastor, and theologian, Kelly Brown Douglas invites us to know more fully the historic paths that shape the environment in the United States and impacts lives for and with black and brown persons in Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God. 3:53 Reconciliation Is a Journey – Reconciliation is not necessarily a point in time or even a destination, but a journey with varied paths and experiences of forgiveness; justice; restoration; connection with God, self, and community. Standing in Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, England, decades ago, among mostly male clergy colleagues who were delighting in the history and connection of the Anglican Church and the legacy of the Wesleys, I was keenly aware that my feet were planted in more than one sphere. At that moment, the history of women as ordained clergy complicated my sense of belonging to the celebration. 4:37 Intersecting spheres or dimensions are what many of us navigate along paths to be fully alive as God’s beloved in the places where we reside. “When Blood and Bones Cry Out: Journeys through the Soundscape of Healing and Reconciliation” captures the essence of reconciliation as resonance, ways of knowing and experiencing healing in the midst of unspeakable tragedy and conflict. Reminiscent of “sighs too deep for words,” noted Romans 8:26, the power of the Spirit to move and beckon through many facets encourages us to explore the arts and peace building. Books, spoken word, poetry, drama, film, music, visual, and other arts vivify our lived experiences. 5:28 Rooted in Grace and Spiritual Practices – Singing, lamenting, weeping, wailing, healing somatic work, walking along the earth, exercising vigorously, savoring a cup of tea, dancing flamboyantly, or moving with more measured steps to the beat of a drum are but a few of the ways that diverse and differently abled persons seek to be wonderfully and fully human as inspired by the divine. These prayerful practices, along with traditional prayer, fasting, study, and other means of grace, enliven the gospel through body, mind, soul, and spirit. 6:12 Punctuated by witnesses of women exploring the Word, The Common English Women’s Bible provides a window to scripture. Christine Pohl invites communities to cultivate practices that sustain us: “making and keeping promises, speaking and telling the truth, expressing gratitude, and extending hospitality.” Elaine Heath offers a group study of wisdom from Galatians as we seek to be the body of Christ in a changing world. 6:42 The Body Remembered – Reflecting on the trial-tested strength and nurturing gifts of family elders, Adrienne Sparrow Trevathan writes: If I have genuinely lost the ability to experience the enfleshed revelation of my family, perhaps it is because I have become so satiated with my half-life that I forget the glory of the flower, the potential of existence, the glory of God to me — to us — in bread and wine. How can I get the church to understand? Let us remember and be thankful. 7:19 Thank you for listening to the WellSprings Journal podcast. Be sure to visit WellSpringsJournal.org to find more resources for the journey.
12 minutes | 2 years ago
God in Flesh Is Just Like Me – Rev. Courtney McHill
Courtney McHill, of the Oregon-Idaho Area of the United Methodist Church, shares how many of her male clergy contemporaries were surprised to hear about some of the challenges that clergywomen still face today, and how she deals with them by remembering that God created her in God’s image, as good and whole, in female flesh. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:35 God in Flesh Is Just Like Me – By Courtney McHill, of the Oregon–Idaho Area of the United Methodist Church. 0:44 I rearranged the living room again to have just the right vibe. I got out the snacks and the couple of bottles of wine because it was my turn to host in my home. I moved that one chair again and added a few more chairs over there. I dusted all the furniture and the old fixtures. Even though we live in the parsonage just a few feet away from the church, I try to give it touches here and there to make it more comfy for people to hang out here. The group decided to switch to meet in people’s homes to add just these touches. We let down our guard more if we feel safer to do so. We agreed with one another to meet every three weeks in this kind of rotation. Lately, each of us had added snacks and beverages to make it even more comfortable and intimate. 1:30 The community of practice began when 12 of us in north and northeast Portland, Oregon vocalized a similar yearning. We, as younger clergy in mainline denominations in Portland, were seeking others with similar values, practices, and passions to create more of a foundation for one another and more of a voice in Portland. We have been figuring out a different way to be in ministry with one another in this way — a community of practice — for the past year. Gathering in homes has been the next step in answering this yearning. We are ELCA, UMC, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterians, UCC, and Episcopalian so far — half male and half female — all eager to navigate a different version of church. 2:17 This particular day, in my home, somehow the subject of gender in ministry came up. My male colleagues were incredulous that we, as youngish female clergy, were treated any differently. My female colleagues and I looked at them with skepticism. “You don’t believe we are treated any differently,” exclaimed one female colleague. The other United Methodist clergyperson and I exchanged knowing glances. 2:43 I have been in appointed ministry for 10 years. I went directly from college to seminary and into an appointment. My first appointment was as an associate pastor in a larger Oregon church in a college town. My senior pastor had been doing this for 40 years. In fact, the year I was ordained, we celebrated his 40th year in ordination. It was a gift to work for him, but that was when I discovered just how different it is to be a young woman in this work. The touches are different, the critique is different, the compliments are different, the intimacy in conversations is different, and the expectations are different. 3:26 After four years, I moved into an appointment that was a cooperative ministry between a UMC and an ELCA church. I had an ELCA co-pastor. My colleague was 40 years older, very wise, but not in the ways of administration as much. I took on the administrative role, and yet I still saw blatant differences in how we were treated. 3:49 After five years there, I was moved to a solo pastor gig where I have been the senior pastor of a larger Portland United Methodist congregation. I am their first woman pastor. The underlying assumptions are still there, and yet here we are still in this conversation. My male colleague spoke out and said, “It’s not that I don’t believe you are treated differently, but aren’t we past that?” 4:14 My United Methodist Church colleague and I exchanged glances and we started to banter: “Let me just fix that piece of clothing of yours.” “Such a cute haircut (as they start touching and rearranging hair)” “What do you wear under that robe?” “I can’t worship while you wear heels, they distract me. You might fall!” “Why don’t you wear makeup?” “You wear too much makeup!” “What kind of makeup do you wear?” “When do you have time for family?” “Do you want kids?” “Oh Pastor, that baby looks good on your hip!” “Don’t you think that dress shows too much?” “Doesn’t the Bible say that woman should keep silent?” “I will just wait for the real pastor to talk to me.” 4:56 And the list went on and on. When we finally came up for air, half of the room looked shocked, and the other half had a smile spread across their faces. One man asked, “Does this happen?” All of the women in the room said, “Yes!” in unison. 5:13 So many women have gone before me in this profession, paving the way for me to be here, and I am so grateful. I can’t imagine this profession and this call even 30 years ago. I have just a taste of what it means in the clergy world to be a called woman in ministry, and yet I have a taste. I know what it feels like to be touched, prodded, poked, and rearranged before a worship service by kind but unknowing congregants. I know what it feels like to be brushed over in order to get to the male pastor standing right beside me. I know what it is like to be called and told that my opinion isn’t valued as much. I am aware of the people who want to, “save my soul,” because I am woman called by God. I am keenly tuned into the fact that I am treated differently just because of what body I resonate with. 6:07 In April of 2016, I applied and was chosen to travel to Cuba with other amazing clergywomen through The United Methodist Church. Our group was headed to Cuba as clergywomen in order to learn about women in ministry in Cuba. It was an incredible trip. We studied and asked questions. We experienced arts and life in Cuba. We played a bit and toured a bit. We bonded with women in Cuba, but most of all we lifted one another up when we needed it the most. All of us on this trip were searching for something, and we really found one another. We all served in different contexts and in different ways. We all walked around the world with a bit of defensiveness, built up over years of serving in ministry. One night, we gathered in one of our rooms and just started telling stories. We told stories of what people had said to us or when they had passed us over. We told stories of mustering courage and finding our voices. We told stories of when we needed one another the most. We created bonds that have continued. We prayed together and continue to cheer the others on. 7:16 This is why I invest so much of my theology in that simple line that John gives us, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” This is the only way that I know that God knows me. God has been embodied before. God knows a body so intimately that God knows what it means to feel and hear these things. God knows what it means to feel the sun on God’s flesh and feel shame because of this body. Surely God knows what it means to be confident in the body and proud of what God has given us. God has to know what it means to hold someone else or whisper in another’s ear. God has to know how lovely it is to smell a newborn baby’s head or to hold an old woman’s hand as she gives her last breath. God must know what it feels like to preach the word and watch the word transform before our eyes. I am sure that God has felt hurt feet and a hurt heart. God’s heart has definitely been broken. 8:22 At the same time, God knows what it means to feel that bit of urgency when new hope presents itself. God has felt a heart that has a quickened pulse. God has been in love. God has wept. God has leapt when all of the things align just right and when the air gets crisp in fall. God has felt and played in the dirt, and God has been washed clean after a long day. God has to know these things, because God became flesh at one point. 8:52 This is the only way I know how to serve this God and continue to serve this God in the midst of people looking down on my body or saying it isn’t enough. When God becomes an incarnate being, that is when I can acknowledge my God. When I get discouraged that, as a young woman clergyperson, I have to work a bit harder to be heard, this is what gets me back into my called space. God has been here before and knows what it means to be in flesh and to be judged by that flesh. When I get written off because I am “younger, inexperienced, and insecure”—and I am sure that I haven’t claimed any of that and I know it to not be true because I have done this for 10 years and many times before—I know that God was passed over because God was too young and new. God was flesh and dwelled among us in the margins, to the unknown, and in vulnerable spaces. When I get told that I am just cute instead of qualified, I remember when God knew what it was to create the cutest and most qualified creatures. When the expectations are infused into a male body instead of mine, I remember that God created me in God’s image, as good and whole, in female flesh. 10:14 “Do people really say that stuff to you?? Really?” my male colleague asks again in my community of practice. “Yes. All of the time. And now you know. What will you do about it?” This is how I respond, because I know God continues to work through our flesh. It is my job to be my voice and to witne
13 minutes | 2 years ago
Come and See Harare -- Rev. Beauty Rosebery Maenzanise
In 1984, there were only two ordained clergywomen in the Zimbabwe Annual Conference. Today, Africa has more than 300 clergywomen. Beauty Rosebery Maenzanise, of the East Zimbabwe Area of the United Methodist Church, shares the struggles of the Rev. Anne-Grace Chingonzo, one of the first Zimbabwe clergywomen, and her struggle to gain acceptance, and how the words in a dream provided the inspiration to persevere. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:34 Come and See Harare, by Beauty Rosebery Maenzanise, of the East Zimbabwe Area of the United Methodist Church 0:42 The ministry of clergywomen in the Methodist tradition, which has a testimony of sixty years, has been focused on the North American context for decades. While the clergywomen in North America witnessed to the gospel and celebrated their sisterhood, many women who received the call in Methodism across the globe lived in their oppression, years after the approval of the ordination of women by the 1956 the General Conference. 1:09 With the growing number of clergywomen in the United States and their testimonies to the living Word of God, the fire of the Gospel caught on other parts of the globe. In Zimbabwe for example, with people like the late Bishop Abel Tendekayi Muzorewa, women with a call to ordained ministry started to have backbone. In 1984, there were only two ordained clergywomen in the Zimbabwe Annual Conference. Being one of the three clergywomen who were ordained elders in 1988 as the second group, I felt the care of a shepherd from Bishop Muzorewa. To demonstrate his opening of doors for women in this ministry, he would many times be heard during the annual Pastors’ School sessions saying: “Men, we need to remember that biblically we are leaders of the Old Testament. The women are leaders of the New Testament based on the resurrection story of Jesus (Mark 16).” This statement gave us fire within. With the support of our African bishops, now, based on 2012 statistics, Africa has more than three hundred clergywomen. 2:17 Let us hear the voice of one of the Zimbabwe clergywomen, the Rev. Anne-Grace Chingonzo, who was interviewed by the writer in 2001: 2:26 For me to want to continue as a Christian I started worshiping while I was still young. As I was in Grade Four, I started to like preaching so much. I always felt like preaching and wanting people to be saved, to know God. One of the contributing factors was that I always dreamt about preaching. Sometimes I would dream seeing someone calling me saying: “Come and see people who need the message.” Then I would preach in my dream. That same sermon when I preached it next time, it would be very effective. 2:58 In my life I wanted to become a nun, and I was so close to Roman Catholic sisters. I admired their service together with their love and care. These sisters arranged a trip for me to go to Switzerland for that training, but I was not allowed to let my parents know about it. But the secret became known to my parents. They transferred me from Mhangura. They said: “You are not going anywhere.” 3:22 When I went to Mutambara, there was Rev. [Christopher] Jokomo as the pastor, and he was told about my story that: “We removed her from there because of this condition, so please assist her.” That’s when he took me to a sister, Deaconess, Pat Fulmer, who was working at the United Methodist Head Office. He said: “So you can be a sister in the United Methodist, and we can train you here in Zimbabwe.” 3:48 While there at Mutambara doing Form Four in 1983, I had a dream. Rev. Jokomo was in America by then. I dreamt being in a valley with a mountain nearby which had lawn throughout. That mountain had a very narrow path which people could use. Rev. Jokomo was wearing a yellow gown, and he said: “Annie, I want to show you where you are. If you choose to walk this road, I want you to see how hard it is to walk that road. There are thorns on the road, especially when you get to that point. It is very painful.” Then he said: “Follow me.” I followed him walking in front of me. He would say: “You see, walk this way. Make sure you are walking on the right road. Don’t step on the sides of the road. You will be hurt.” We walked and arrived where there were thorns, and he said: “Be very careful.” Then I woke up. All those dreams pushed me to think about ordained ministry. 4:47 I became a Local Preacher when I was doing my Form Three, and I was preaching. Towards the end of November of my Form Four, that’s when I was interviewed for ministry. But the main challenge which pushed me to go to ministry was that I was concerned about women. The fact which pushed me was that, as women, there is not much direct contact we have with the pastor as parishioners. Whereas when a woman has a need or a problem, they share with the pastor’s wife, and that pastor’s wife would then share with her husband. The pastor will then try to solve the issue indirectly through the wife. So it was a long process. I then felt that if I become a pastor being a clergywoman like this, I can manage to go direct to the women and talk to them. 5:33 I was ordained as a Deacon in 1986 at Old Mutate, and the dream I had in 1983 was fulfilled in 1986. How? That was the year Rev. Jokomo came back from America. As we were assembled to process into the Old Mutare Church, I was surprised to see Rev. Jokomo because I didn’t know that he was back. He greeted us all then said: “Annie, come here.” We stood at a corner and he said: “Annie, are you serious that you want to go and vow that you want to become a pastor? Do you know what they will say about your crying all the time? I want to pray for you so that when you give vows you need to know the meaning of what you are going to say. You will be belittled. They will say this and that about you.” And he later said: “Let’s pray.” It did not have much meaning to me as he was praying at that moment. We processed in and sat down. As soon as I sat down. it hit me that this was the hard road which I was accompanied by Rev. Jokomo. He did it vividly, and that same person prayed for me. I had not shared this dream with him when he prayed for me. 6:46 After graduation from College, I was appointed in Murehwa. When I got to Murehwa, I was not welcome. Why? I was the first clergywoman in that area, and worse, I was a single woman. And, yes, I was single, but the situation was worsened because of the area I came from, Manicaland. As soon as they saw me, to them I was not a pastor. I was so confused and did not know what to do next. Going to church, there was no respect that they were receiving their pastor. Before March 17 of that year, there was a death of a soldier in my parish. They did not even inform me of the death of my member’s son. 7:29 When the Headmaster said to me: “Do you know that your members spent the night at a funeral?” I took my bicycle and books then went there. When I arrived, no one greeted me. I extended my hand to give my condolence, and no one wanted to touch my hand. No one communicated with me, and no one was willing to sit close to me. I went and sat outside by myself. A family member who was the head of the family came to me and said: “Pastor, I am telling you that it’s better for you to leave and go back home. You are not wanted here. One, you are Muzorewa’s representative and two, people don’t want you here. Last night there were songs which were sung against you. The person who died is an ex-combatant. You can be killed here.” 8:15 I said: “I am here for my member’s child who died. He is the one I came here to mourn. I am here, and I am not going to leave this place until after burial.” He said: “Anyway, I told you. Whatever happens to you, you are forewarned.” Then the man left. 8:34 After he said those words, everyone looked down. I stood up and went to where the soldiers were. I said to them: “Can I please see your Chaplain?” They sent one of the soldiers for him. The soldiers welcomed me saying “The pastor is now here.” 8:49 When the Chaplain finally came, he said: “Thank you so much, pastor, for coming. Do everything during this funeral service. I will let you know where we will need to have some gun salutes, and I will tell you what to do.” We drafted the program together, and we called people to come closer. This was me now, calling people and leading the call to worship with that authority. For a while people stared at me, but they later came because I was standing beside my partner now, the Chaplain. After prayer we led the procession to the grave yard. On the way we were having the salutes, and everything which was supposed to be done during the funeral of an army person. The Chaplain would tell me what to do next. So people thought that I knew all those things. 9:36 Before we left for the graveyard, I asked the family if they had a representative who would like to say a few words, and they said they had nothing to do with “our person.” When we arrived at the graveyard, I only gave time to people from his job and his Burial Society. I preached. After the burial we got onto the Puma and went back to the home. After the meal I was about to leave. The soldiers said: “You are not going to ride your bicycle back home, pastor.” They put my bicycle into the Puma, and I went to the front seat. As
6 minutes | 2 years ago
The Call of the Wheel and the Loom -- Dr. Safiyah Fosua
Dr. Safiyah Fosua, of the Greater New Jersey Area of the United Methodist Church, shares how a loom and a spinning wheel became God’s instruments to awaken her soul and release her creative spirit. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:34 The call of the Wheel and the Loom – By Dr. Safiyah Fosua, of the Greater New Jersey Area of the United Methodist Church 0:44 Of late, I frequently hear the call of the wheel and the loom. This year, I bought a large, Norwood, four-shaft floor loom and a Schacht, castle-style spinning wheel. The intent was to begin collecting “retirement toys” while I am still employed enough to pay for them. My rationale was to have a new craft or two to break me out of several mind-numbing routines that were threatening to swallow my soul. I did not realize that Ms. Norwood and Ladybug (as they have been named) would become God’s instruments to awaken my soul. 1:20 At the wheel, a handful of sheep’s wool begins to resemble yarn or thread. At the loom bench, an orderly tangle of threads becomes cloth. Both acts of creativity satisfy the longing of my soul to imitate the creativity of the One who created me, in ways the mundane and unimaginative tasks of ministry cannot. Like many of you, I am exhausted after working my way through the to-do pile. For me, the pile contains assignment grids, rubrics, correcting grammar, or grading papers from an assignment that I have been giving students for the last ten semesters. For you, it may be hospital calls, staff meetings, budgets, sermons, and Bible study lesson plans. All require that we be fully present, that we be Christ to those on the receiving end. However, as I am honest with myself, I recognize that so much of what we do in ministry as we know it these days does not require huge amounts of creative energy. 2:25 Yet my soul cries out to be creative, even when I am too tired to engage in the creative processes that birth poetry from the numinous cloud inside of my head onto the printed page. Even when I am dragged-out tired and bleary-eyed, however, I can spin wool into thread and sit at the loom in awe as I watch colored threads become patterned cloth. And sometimes, a bit of poetry also finds her way to my yellow note pad while the creative flood gate is barely propped open. 2:59 So then, in this call of the wheel and the loom, I experience a call to remembrance. There, I remember that I am created in the image and likeness of the One who is introduced to us in Genesis as the Creating One. I am called to remember that even the call to discipleship and evangelism is a call to creativity. We are co-creators with a God who creates one family of the disparate human factions that we have created. We midwife the rebirth of souls that have often been reduced to nothing but despair and whispered prayers. It requires creativity to gather the isolated to community, the self-contained to covenant, and the world-weary to the safety of the gospel of peace. And, if we are attentive to the cries of the earth, she also reaches out to us for creative restoration. 3:56 At the wheel, I also remember that one act of creativity often begets, or opens the doors for, others. It is no accident that so many who have accepted the call to ministry also paint, sculpt, construct things, play, sing, or write music, or engage in countless other acts of creativity. They have stumbled upon the secret that, for them — for us — one act of creativity frequently opens the door for others. The tactile stimulation of wool into thread, the repetitive click of knitting needles, the messiness of batik, or the physicality of kneading dough or pounding fufu often busy the restless body long enough for thoughts from the heavenly realm to bubble up to the surface. 4:45 The creating spirit is our birthright. That spirit is within us. It is part of what it means to be created in the image of God. We who bear the Imago Dei are driven to imitate our Creator by hovering over the chaos of the mundane by creating something. The creating spirit is a cry for more than just subsistence. And so, no matter how rich or poor we are, you may find several of us in a braiding circle, hovering over a head and creating something meaningful. Or you may find us working together on a quilt. You may be found hovering over piano keys, a drum, or a sitar until a new sound emerges; hovering over the breadboard, or the pounding stick, or the grinding bowl. All of these are acts of creativity. 5:38 Creativity is a part of meaning-making that distinguishes humans from others in the created order. It appears across our embroidered globe in expressions too varied to number. When the creating spirit is suppressed, so also are we. When it is flowing freely among us, we feel alive. 6:01 I end this essay as I began. Of late, I hear the call of the wheel and the loom. 6:08 Thank you for listening to the WellSprings Journal podcast. Be sure to visit WellSpringsJournal.org to find more resources for the journey.
8 minutes | 2 years ago
Oppression and Empowerment of Native Americans -- Robin Starr Minthorn
Robin Starr Minthorn, of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, recounts the oppression Indigenous peoples have faced and explains why it is important to understand the past that lives within the generations of today. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:34 Oppression and Empowerment of Native Americans, by Robin Starr Minthorn of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. 0:43 At this time in our world, in our communities, there are so many situations that surround us concerning the safety of women, children, and our environment, which are all intricately connected. I am speaking as a layperson, as a Kiowa tribal member, as a Native woman, as a United Methodist who grew up in a predominantly Native American conference, where language and culture were both accepted and rejected at the same time. I will share in this space the story of my own experiences and the lived realities of Indigenous women in the church, in their communities, and in the world. I am not the representative of all, but I have lived in all of these contexts. 1:32 As a grandchild of a Native American pastor in The United Methodist Church and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, I can say there were times in which the Native culture was told not to be honored or used along with serving the church. But you could speak your language and create songs and your own hymns. I have also seen and heard of my grandpa’s and grandma’s efforts to create a community of believers with a true sense of community, care, trust, and support. I have seen my grandmother find ways to contribute alongside her husband, while also raising children; but not having her mother to guide her. Her mother died when my grandma was two years old. My grandma went to boarding school, starting at the age of five, was able to attend public school for only a few years of her schooling, and ended up graduating from a boarding school in Lawrence, Kansas. This was partially because she did not have her mother, and partially because it was sometimes the only choice available to her. 2:38 For many Native Americans, boarding school is not a distant memory; it still haunts the generations of today. Why might you ask? Children of Native peoples who attended boarding schools two generations ago were forcefully removed (mostly) from their parents and communities, so that the federal policy of “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” could be fulfilled. This policy of General Richard Henry Pratt began in 1879, with the creation of Carlisle Boarding School, as an assimilation effort to displace children from their families and communities. Removing them encouraged losses—of language, culture, and traditions of having long hair—and forced them to wear Western clothing and learn trades that would help assimilate them. Why does this matter? Due to this policy, parenting traditions were lost, and families were broken up. This created dysfunction in our communities between generations of both males and females, as their traditions were lost and gaps created. This is one policy that was implemented by the federal government. There were many, and this does not even include actions addressed by the Act of Repentance that was passed at the 2012 UM General Conference and other tortuous acts carried out by religious leaders of various denominations in North America. 4:06 I share this, not to dwell on the past, but when we speak of where we are right now, it is important to understand the past that lives within the generations of today. When we talk about the atrocious rates of diabetes, alcoholism, poverty, and suicide that pervade Native American communities in reservation, urban, and rural settings, we must link the past to the present. When we talk about the “Native Lives Matter” movement, we must acknowledge that it exists because the highest number of killings by law enforcement is of Native Americans, and there is an epidemic of homelessness where there are larger numbers of Native peoples in urban cities. Then we see environmental injustice that plagues reservations and tribal land bases, including uranium mining, fracking, water contamination, and pipeline building that will jeopardize the water sources of millions. Then we see statistics for the overwhelming amount of rape, domestic violence, and murder that exists for Native American women and children. This is not just true in the United States; these issues impact Indigenous peoples to the north and south of us. Indigenous peoples have been subjected to colonialism, genocide, assimilation tactics, and forced religion; they have been raped by Western thoughts and beliefs every day since contact was made. 5:33 So, when I think about the theme of “Bodies, Oppression, and Gospel,” I think of how much of an oxymoron that can be to populations who have been oppressed for centuries. I think about how clergywomen are often called to care for others, empathize with the oppression that is faced by others. Yet I wonder how many have paid attention to the silent cries and beautiful presence of Indigenous peoples of yesterday and today. I think, “What would Jesus do if he saw the plight of Indigenous people? Would he weep, would he show love and compassion?” 6:10 I think God created each of us to have a unique language, creation story, and journey; but many have misinterpreted the Bible so that they can use it for their own purposes. There is, however, an opportunity for clergywomen to become allies and advocates for Indigenous populations. Do you know who the Indigenous people are in the land base you serve? Even if there is not one located there presently, whose homelands, historically, are from that area? Understanding that history, acknowledging it, and teaching others about it is the first step. The next step is to find ways to advocate and become allies for issues impacting Indigenous People’s—locally, nationally, and even internationally. 6:55 Advocacy can begin by understanding the history, but must also address the current plight. In all of this, reflect on the beauty and resilience of Indigenous peoples: women, children, men, and elders. There were once hundreds of millions of Indigenous peoples; now there are less than five million. Yet the language, culture, ceremonies, and ways of being have continued to live on within tribal communities, families, and the ancestors of those who survived colonial acts of genocide and assimilation. Understanding both the history and today’s lived reality it will provide a foundation for clergywomen across The UMC on beginning to ask the questions: What can I do? What can we do? How will I begin to understand what it means for the “Word to become flesh, and lived among us”? This means to understand those who are the least understood and to truly live among and with others, specifically, the Indigenous peoples of this land. 8:03 Thank you for listening to the WellSprings Journal podcast. Be sure to visit WellSpringsJournal.org to find more resources for the journey.
14 minutes | 2 years ago
Release to the Captives -- Rev. Anita Phillips
The Rev. Anita Phillips executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of the United Methodist Church, shares her perspective as a Native American clergywoman on the matter of bodies, oppression, and the Gospel. She responds to the oppression visited upon indigenous people, and particularly Native American women, by proclaiming release to the captives. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT 0:01 When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings JournalPodcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:34 Release to the Captives, by the Rev. Anita Phillips executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan of The United Methodist Church. 0:44 Introduction -- It is my honor to share from my perspective as a Native American clergywoman on the matter of bodies, oppression, and the gospel. As I begin, it is important to lift a significant point from the perspective of Native Americans. We are not one indistinguishable group of human beings. A crucial aspect of our identity is the nations to which we belong. At present, there are 562 federally recognized tribes and nations in the United States, and many additionally recognized by individual states. Each Native American nation has its own history, language, culture, and identity. However, there are elements one may identify that represent common core values and beliefs among Native Americans. In the context of this conversation, I will most often be speaking to these. 1:44 The Corn Mother -- “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.” This is the ultimate revelation from the Gospel of John, that human beings can know God through the life, teachings, and identity of Jesus the Christ. 2:01 The notion of the Creator (or aspects of the Creator) embodied in physical form is not unique to Western theology. The sacred figure of the Corn Mother plays a significant role in creation stories for many Native American nations. My own nations, the Cherokee and the Keetoowah, include the story of Corn Mother, also called Selu, which is the Cherokee word for corn. The details vary from tribe to tribe, but the critical elements are much the same. The focus of the story is the willing self-sacrifice of Corn Mother, who recognizes that she must die in order to bring about the birth of corn, beans, squash, and other produce of the earth to feed her children. Before she dies, she gives instruction on how to plant and raise corn. She provides the seed corn from her body, which in due course saves the people. In some stories, she instructs her children to use her blood to fertilize the fields. As I reflect on the story of Corn Mother, I discover the divine elements of self-sacrifice and unconditional love of others. These elements are revealed to the world through human form and are fully released and realized only through the death of the bearer. 3:28 Many moons ago, before serving as a United Methodist clergywoman, I served as a social worker in the administration of Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller. She was the first woman to hold this highest office in my nation. She was simultaneously a Christian and a Native American who claimed her identity as a traditional and ceremonial woman. In her life’s journey, she manifested the characteristics of both Jesus Christ and Corn Mother. Chief Mankiller loved our people despite times of turmoil and conflict in serving them. There were times of great resistance and oppression toward her personally from powerful governmental and economic entities. She served despite great physical affliction, and made tremendous sacrifices on behalf of others. She died in 2010, and in the reflections I have made on her life and my own, I realize she has perhaps been the single most important mentor who has influenced me as a Native American United Methodist clergywoman. 4:37 Gender and Oppression -- Native American women share with all women the bond of oppression related to our female gender. This form of oppression was not historically a part of our societies prior to the arrival of Europeans on this continent many centuries ago. Prior to this invasion, women lived as did men, as part of the interrelatedness of all creation. Every element of creation was seen as essential to the ultimate balance, harmony, and survival of the entirety. Women fulfilled roles that were equally important to the community as those that men occupied. The introduction of patriarchy, along with many other alien beliefs and values, was part of the traumatic assault experienced by Native Americans during Western expansion. 5:29 Native American clergywomen share an inheritance of both the best the world has offered women and the worst. Within our many nations, the being of women—the totality of mind, body, and spirit—was viewed as holy and vital for its contribution to the ongoing existence of the community and all of creation. Gender was more a matter of complementary roles that contributed to harmony and balance within a society. Manifestations of this may be seen today through ongoing matriarchal systems of clan membership, property, and residence. My own clan membership was determined through my grandmother. I belong to the Long Hair Clan. 6:17 Patriarchy was introduced and enforced by both missionaries and governmental entities. The concept of the superiority of men often accompanied “conversion at gun point” or was adopted as a desperate attempt at survival through identification with the oppressor. Indigenous women experienced a “perfect storm” during this period of our history. While the notion of the female body as sacred and important began to submerge beneath a dominating Western worldview, other crucial aspects of our Native identity—community, relationship, the value of the group over the individual, complementary characteristics leading to a balanced society, the Creator with us and interrelated in all things—began to fade as supportive realities of our daily lives. Simultaneously, boarding schools worked to stamp out Indigenous languages. Into this numbness and trauma came the realization that the value of a woman’s body was determined by the men in power. 7:27 Trails of Tears -- As people of oral history, most of our greatest stories are not recorded in writing, but are passed along through storytelling. One of the stories that both inspires and haunts me comes from the era of the Trails of Tears. The term “Trail of Tears” is used to describe the forced removal of Native American people from the southeastern United States to Indian Territory west of the Mississippi River in the early 1800s. Peoples of the Cherokee, Muscogee Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole Nations were forced onto these death marches by the U.S. federal and state governments in order to open their lands to White settlers. The destination for these nations was what is now the state of Oklahoma. Soldiers of the U.S. Calvary accompanied the Native American people on these Trails of Tears to ensure they followed the prescribed routes to Oklahoma Territory and to guard against persons escaping to return to their homelands. 8:36 One of the traumatic realities of historical conquest is that the conquerors lay claim to everything belonging to the conquered captives. Not only are their physical possessions taken, including the land upon which the people live, but also their bodies, minds, and spirits. For Native women, alien powers laying claim to their children, their homes, their fields, and their sexuality was the foundation for destroying the elements of their personhood. The notion that violent sexual access to the women and girls of conquered nations was the right of conquering forces has been documented throughout history. Such violent assault also occurred on the Trails of Tears. Stories have been passed down in my family of soldiers carrying off young women and girls into the darkness for the purpose of rape and degradation. Recognizing the trauma visited upon these young members of the Cherokee community, a group of mature women, many of whom were mothers, stepped forward to offer themselves as victims to the sexual assaults in place of the younger women and girls. They sacrificed their bodies every night as the spoils of war. The stories that have been passed down recount the response of the Native community: when these sacrificial actions by the women were taking place, the people would sing. Knowing that these women would feel so alone out there in the darkness, the people would sing very loudly so that their voices would carry beyond the campfires. 10:18 Most of these tribes had been heavily missionized by various denominations for many years and a great number of Native peoples coming from the southeast on the Trails of Tears were Christian. The Gospel was brought along on these terrible journeys. I have no doubt the scripture focus of this issue of WellSprings from the Gospel of John was lifted and preached by some of the missionaries who chose to stay with the people and made the forced march with them. What a contradiction! As preachers proclaimed God, revealed through the flesh of Jesus the Christ, the flesh of indigenous women was desecrated with impunity! The oppression of my grandmothers in this way brings great grief to my heart; their courage brings great pride and strength to my spirit. 11:13 Into the Future -- One of the experiences I have valued as an elder within my conference, the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference, has been serving as mentor to several Native American women local pastors as they progressed throu
21 minutes | 2 years ago
Lament, Gospel, Response -- Nannette Banks, Isabel Docampo, Allison St. Louis, Trudy Hawkins Stringer, Laura Tuach
In this special collaborative episode, five ordained women come together to lament, confess, celebrate, and ultimately reclaim an embodied and faithful way to move in their professional, spiritual, and personal lives. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 0:39 Lament, Gospel, Response – a collaborative effort by Nannette Banks, Isabel Docampo, Allison St. Louis, Trudy Hawkins Stringer, and Laura Tuach. 0:52 Introduction by Laura Tuach. “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” John 1:14 calls us to embrace the embodiment of God’s grace through Christ. 1:05 This article is a collaborative project. A living, breathing, and evolving endeavor by five ordained women of differing faith communities, differing bodies and stories, differing experiences of the Divine. We are five religious professionals located within the academy, training and supporting the next generation of congregational leaders. We are of Cuban descent, African American descent, Anglo descent, and African and Indian descent. We are deeply faithful women, serving our calls in academia while maintaining our connections to the Episcopal, Progressive Baptist, United Methodist, and United Church of Christ denominations. We are each embodied, fleshy, and beautifully and wonderfully made, reflecting God’s complexity, diversity, and magnificence. Over the past three years, we gathered virtually and in person for mutual professional support and to produce writing that reflects our deepest commitments and beliefs. In this article we lament, confess, celebrate, and ultimately reclaim an embodied and faithful way to move in our professional, spiritual, and personal lives. 2:25 We begin exploring the theme of this issue with lament. As an all-female community of practice, we lament our individual and collective traumas. We tell the truth about the violence inflicted on women’s bodies, bodies of those who are “othered,” and our own bodies. We lament the barrage of images and messages we cannot escape in a culture that worships consumerism and productivity and a prescribed definition of beauty. We lament this injustice and ask for forgiveness for our own complicity in systems of oppression that deny full human expression through the body. We hear the good news that the word became flesh and lived among us. We respond by creating ritual and worshiping together. In this article, we invite you to explore these words of John without divorcing them from your own body and the bodies of the women and girls you minister to. As women of all shapes, colors, sizes, and experiences, we are called to celebrate our bodies and the ways in which the living God is enfleshed in each of us. 3:40 Lament by Trudy Hawkins Stringer -- “But flesh has ambiguous connotations. Indeed, its materiality often carries the weight of sin.” — Mayra Rivera 3:53 How is it that in the Christian tradition we hold the radical claim that God became flesh and dwelt among us, and yet in the same tradition, flesh, as Rivera writes, “carries the weight of sin”? We begin with lament, an ancient practice of weeping and wailing, of grieving loss. Lament as an embodied, communal practice has fallen out of favor, so we turn our mourning inward, silencing it and forcing it to molder in the nether reaches of our bodies. We seek to reclaim lament as a necessary step in remembering our being, calling “flesh, spirit, mind, soul” from the long loneliness of dichotomies of: spirit / flesh, soul / body, mind / body. 4:45 In Enfleshing Freedom, M. Shawn Copeland writes: The ambivalence with which Christian thought focuses on the sex of the matter may be traced to a persistent somatophobia or fear of flesh. This fear stems from a conceptual axis that compounds both distortions of Neoplatonism, with its tendency to idealism, suspicion of ambiguity, and discomfort with matter, and Pauline and Augustinian warnings about flesh and its pleasures. We lament somatophobia entrenched in Christian traditions. We lament all cultural constructions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and able-ness that encourage exclusion, domination, and violence. 5:34 We lament the violence acted out on bodies—raced bodies, gendered bodies, ethnic bodies, queer bodies, diseased bodies, disabled bodies. We lament masculinities that teach violence and debasement of women and emotional numbness to men. We lament raced identities that construct white supremacy and condone slavery and Jim Crow in old and new iterations. We lament sexual teaching that denies the sacred worth of human sexuality. We lament the role of religion in creating and perpetuating cultural distortions of flesh. We lament and confess our own complicity, by commission and omission, in cultural, societal, and religious systems that distort, degrade, and commodify flesh. 6:28 We ask forgiveness. We seek to participate in the re-sacrilizing of our flesh: flesh as a source of our knowing and of joy, flesh welcome in worship, flesh necessary for ritual, flesh foundational to sacramental practices of baptism and Eucharist. We seek forgiveness and the collective courage to reimagine flesh as sacred gift. 6:58 Response: Hope in “Isness” by Nannette Banks. “I CAN’T BREATHE!” the tragically famous last words of Brother Eric Garner, and according to Yale ethicist, the Rev. Dr. Ebony Marshall Turman, declaring his “isness.” As we watch that black male body struggle to survive while being choked to the ground, we hear him proclaim his existence: “I CAN’T BREATHE.” This moment is reminiscent of Malcolm X’s father being tied to active train tracks with the sound of the train’s horn and the blinding light shining on him, shouting, “I AM A MAN!” and the screen goes blank. It is reminiscent of Fannie Lou Hammer rebuffing—without reticence and with clarity—the oppressors with, “I AM SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED!” These are not defeatist statements; instead, they are declarations of “isness,” existence and “I am somebody.” To unapologetically declare your space, place and “isness” as human in the face of hatred, brute force, and injustice is the zenith of resistance; giving no one real power over your being—body or mind. 8:23 Continual blows of dehumanization can leave the being—body and mind—bereft and without hope, unless you know that you exist! It is the spirit of resistance that stirs in us to confront the oppressors’/dehumanizers’ glare and physical force with the fact of our existence and place. Recall Jesus on the cross, declaring his “isness” with his last few words, even while he was being mocked. The embodiment of such gumption and spirit destabilizes governments’; economic, political platforms; unjust systems; privilege; ancestral supremacy; and religion. This very spirit is present in each of our bodies, limbs, “isness,” and declarations. It’s in our showing up and in our very flesh (hard to unravel the two, impossible really)—spirit and flesh together. One without the other leaves a gaping hole of prayers with no protest or protest with no prayers; a gaping hole of embodiment with no sure housing, words with no real meaning, and life with no real point. Again, recall Jesus: the word became flesh! God inhabits/embodies the praises, the declarations of the people. Show up, inhabit, embody, become flesh with your very first, until your very last, word and breath. 10:01 Gospel: Good News by Isabel Docampo. The encounters of Simon, the social outcast and unclean leper, a nameless woman, and Jesus in the Gospel of Mark’s 14th chapter offer good news of the Divine’s transfiguration of oppression to hope. When these three hurting people encounter one another in the Gospel story, they are moved to care for one another’s flesh: their bodily and emotional wounds. Simon offers shelter and fills Jesus’ hungry stomach. The woman offers human touch as she spreads the oil on his head, shoulders, and feet. Jesus, the Divine made flesh, gratefully receives these gifts. Here the Divine is embraced and embraces, crossing the boundaries between Creator and Creature. In the compassionate embrace of the Other’s wounds and pain, these three experience the Divine “touch” that helps them transcend their bodily oppression and move forward in hope! 11:08 The body is the pathway by which we experience the world. The body is an historical receptacle. It carries our ancestors’ stories in its DNA—of intermarriages, diseases, migrations, and the truth of our inescapable biological and cultural hybridity—for survival within political and economic histories. Our perception of our own bodies and that of the Other’s body reveals the marks of these histories on our emotional psyche that is an extension of our body. Latina studies have explored the legacies of colonialism, whose violence on all indigenous bodies (particularly the female body) was enacted to produce “bodily traits” for a perfect economic commodity. Colonialism’s power persists in our subconscious, producing a self-desire for certain bodily traits to the point of masochistic surgeries in a quest for bodies deemed safe and most likely to succeed. 12:12 Emilie Townes says it well: “We do not love ourselves. We have become cavalier with each other’s lives . . . we live in a time when the disregard for human lives in general is astoundingly sanctioned by a legal system that fails all of us when black and brown and native lives are taken and no one is responsible. ”Ultimately,
16 minutes | 2 years ago
Mujer: A Body of Dangerous Memories -- Rev. Cristian de la Rosa
The theme of Season 2 is “Bodies, Oppression, and Gospel,” and in Episode 1, the Rev. Cristian de la Rosa, of the Baltimore-Washington area of the United Methodist Church, takes a critical look at how many of the violent practices and processes that have led to the marginalization of women of color are intrinsically related to the introduction (as Catholicism) and re-introduction (as Protestantism) of Christianity in the Americas. (VOICED BY PROFESSIONAL TALENT) FULL TRANSCRIPT When women come together there's nothing we cannot do. Welcome to the WellSprings Journal Podcast, where you will hear from women who have been called by God into lives to speak grace and compassion, that share pain and anger, and that dance life's joys and laughter. Inspiration to call forth your creative spirit await. Listen now. 00:35 Mujer: A Body of Dangerous Memories. By Cristian de la Rosa, of the Baltimore-Washington area of the United Methodist Church. 00:45 The theme for this season conjures what I understand to be a spirit of Mujer in all women, but which is clearly evident in the struggles for life and justice of the surviving descendants of indigenous women across the world. As a woman of Nahuatl descent living in the United States, I understand the spirit of Mujer as the female essence that encompasses strength, courage, wisdom, and discerning skills; deployed by female descendants of the colonized (women of color in the particular context of the U.S.); seeking justice and fullness of life in the fragmentation identified by postmodern Western thought. In my experience, the consideration of bodies, oppression, and gospel evokes memories of injustice and the struggles for survival at the intersections of globalization. 01:44 This experience, within the realities of indigenous peoples, is framed with surviving efforts against colonizing violence. It is rooted in socio-political-religious historical processes that produced “visibly recognizable race categories” facilitating the classification of bodies for marginalization. These processes continue to be articulated through a Western philosophy permeated with interpretations of the gospel that perpetuate circumstances of marginalization, subordination, and fragmentation for female bodies of color, which can survive only as the embodied words of empire. 02:30 As Mayra Rivera explains, the bodies I most identify with and as – Latina bodies – are named by language. Latin, the language of the first Christian empire, now signifies the language of the Spanish empire under the power of which these types of bodies were born. The imperial word became flesh. Today the imperial language names bodies. The linguistic label is, however, insufficient for erasing the carnality of that colonial history. 03:06 The ethos of European colonizing processes that instituted Christianity around the world intentionally erased indigenous cultural and religious points of reference and reconstituted the surviving bodies of indigenous peoples through interpretations of the gospel that rendered them inferior to the colonizers. My social location as a Latina woman in the United States reflects the empire language of conquest by Spain. My faith tradition as a United Methodist clergywoman reflects the empire language of colonization by England. Neither social location nor faith tradition informs my identity as a woman of Nahuatl descent. However, both facilitate my survival in the flesh as a racialized body and continue to inflict fragmentation by misinforming my formation. 04:10 Linda Tuhiwai Smith considers postcolonial theories and explains them in the following manner: As Fanon and later writers such as Nandy have claimed, imperialism and colonialism brought complete disorder to colonized peoples, disconnecting them from their histories, their landscapes, their languages, their social relations and their own ways of thinking, feeling and interacting with the world. It was a process of systematic fragmentation which can still be seen in the disciplinary carve-up of the indigenous world: bones, mummies and skulls to the museums, art work to private collectors, languages to linguistics, “customs” to anthropologists, beliefs and behaviors to psychologists. To discover how fragmented this process was, one needs only to stand in a museum, a library, a bookshop, and ask where indigenous peoples are located. Fragmentation is not a phenomenon of postmodernism as many might claim. For indigenous peoples, fragmentation has been the consequence of imperialism. 05:30 The violent Spanish conquest of Latina America, the treatment of indigenous peoples in the Americas, the acquisition of what is now the Southwestern U.S. from Mexico, the establishment of slavery for economic development in this continent, the internment camps for citizens of Japanese descent, the legal racial segregation after the abolition of slavery, and the manifest-destiny ideology motivating the expansion of the United States – all are intrinsically related to the introduction (as Catholicism) and re-introduction (as Protestantism) of Christianity in the Americas. It is very difficult to forget these violent processes and practices that established and refined the colonial categorization of bodies in this continent, and particularly constituted acts of “nation-building” for the United States. Such processes marked bodies for marginalization, making it impossible to separate the subjugated bodies of the descendants of the colonized from institutionalized experiences of oppression and imposed interpretations of the gospel. 06:50 Remembering the racially based social system designed by the Spanish colonizers in Latin America and thinking of the history of peoples of color within the Protestant denominations in the United States, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement today, is more than a critique or a historical academic exercise. My body feels the limitations of the Christian faith and its interpretation of the gospel in light of historical practices by those that introduced Christianity to indigenous peoples in the Americas. Mayra Rivera notes some of these implications in relation to the interpretation of passages of incarnation of the word and the memory of the flesh. Her theological reflections about subordinated bodies of color interrogate the interpretation of the word that became flesh through the imperial constitution of subjugated bodies. Is the word in my flesh the word of empire? Can women of color find any other words in light of the systemic embedded “isms” of today? 08:03 Tuhiwai Smith invites us to consider that places of marginalization are also spaces of resistance. To acquiesce is to lose ourselves entirely and implicitly agree with all that has been said about us. To resist is to retrench in the margins, retrieve what we were and remake ourselves. The past, our stories local and global, the present, our communities, cultures, languages and social practices — all may be spaces of marginalization, but they have also become spaces of resistance and hope. 08:43 As a contextual theologian, I find myself retrieving insights about the relationship of body, oppression, and gospel from the theological concept of “dangerous memories” noted by Johann Baptist Metz. I do so in relation to the encounter of Jesus and the disciples with the women of Matthew 15, 21 through 28 and Mark 7, 24 through 30. Dangerous memories are memories of suffering that live on in the experiences of the survivors of those who died without justice. 09:21 Metz explains there are dangerous memories, memories that make demands on us. These are memories in which earlier experiences break through to the center of our lives and reveal new and dangerous insights for the present. They illuminate for a few moments, and with a harsh steady light, the questionable nature of things we have apparently come to terms with … They break through the canon of the prevailing structures of plausibility and have certain subversive features. Such memories are like dangerous and incalculable visitations from the past. 10:02 In their own time in history, the Canaanite and Syrophoenician women communicate the subversive essence of dangerous memories. In her suffering, the Canaanite woman breaks away from established social protocols and not only interrupts the walking of Jesus and his disciples but also questions and re-frames their mission and ministry. She is a foreigner with the ability to discern the power in Jesus and the amazing possibilities within the proclamation of a new human-God relationship. Courageously, stepping across all established social and religious boundaries, she asks for help in a public space, probably the market place. The response of Jesus is one of silence. However, upon the request of his disciples to “send her away” because she is probably embarrassing them in public, he articulates the limitations of his mission and with the statement, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” clearly communicates that she is excluded. 11:12 The Canaanite woman does not give up at the denial of her first request for help. She finds courage and interrupts, the walking away of Jesus and the disciples. The narrative tells us that, kneeling before Jesus, she asks again for help. The exclamation mark after her request in the English translations communicates that she is demanding — if not appropriating — her share of God’s power in Jesus. This action generates what can be interpreted as a racial and sexist response. 11:48 It is very difficult for me, as a woman or color, to get around the fact that Jesus calls her a dog and limits the access to new life for her and her daughter with, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs” as a public statement. This answer on the par
Terms of Service
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
© Stitcher 2021