Review: “Earth Transformed with Music: Inclusive Songs for Worship”

Marg Herder was kind enough to write this review of Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship, published on Christian Feminism Today, and to give me permission to share it here on my blog.

Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship

Reviewed by Marg Herder

Click here to purchase this book on Amazon (CFT receives a portion of the purchase price)Lisa looked over at me.  Her expression conveyed her feelings about the third verse of the hymn we were singing (“Rock of Ages”). It is seldom that Lisa and I end up in a “regular” church, so the words and concepts of self-loathing can be jarring.

“Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

And of course the fountain alluded to is the one described in another hymn:

“There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flow,
Lose all their guilty stains.”

I shook my head and rolled my eyes in agreement with Lisa’s assessment, but kept on singing.  I was taught as a child that good people always sang the hymns, in full voice, because singing together meant something.  It wasn’t so much about the words, but about the act of singing together.

After the service I couldn’t get those words out of my head.  I sang hymns with words like these for the first two decades of my life.  I didn’t think about them that much back then.  They were just the language of God’s church, of God’s music.  They weren’t all bad.  Some had very positive and uplifting messages.  But so many of them didn’t.  So many hymn lyrics reinforced a patriarchal religious hierarchy, portrayed following Jesus in terms of conquest and war, and spoke often of our individual worthlessness, our shameful existence, and our inherent brokenness.

I wondered if singing those words over and over influenced my thinking.  Like many of us, I had been reading and singing those words while I was growing up, as my faith was forming around my thoughts and actions, as my concepts of myself and others were developing.

Had those words somehow created certain perceptions, perceptions that were hard to shake, that got wedged deeply inside of me?

I have to work very hard, be very intentional, to overcome my inclinations to think of the world in terms of hierarchy, in terms of conflict and conquest.  I have to work very hard to remember that I am not the “other,” that I am created in the divine image.  And I cannot seem to overcome perceiving of myself as worthless, shameful, and broken.

Maybe singing those kinds of words over and over each time we stood and sang together at church helped create that in me.

I don’t want to sing words that reinforce any of those problematic concepts.  I want to use my voice to sing songs that are inclusive, positive, healing, and life-affirming.  I don’t believe the classist, violent, and sexist words and concepts of “traditional” Christianity do any of us any good anymore.

But what to do with my love of the music, of hymn melodies and harmonies?  I love the tunes I have been singing since I was a child.  I sing them in the car all the time.  “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise.”  “For All the Saints.”  “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee.”  “Holy, Holy, Holy.”  “Amazing Grace.”  And there are so many more I love dearly.

Enter the deeply meaningful work of Rev. Dr. Jann Aldredge-Clanton, a composer, teacher, minister, and prophetic champion of the need for inclusive language and divine feminine metaphor in Christian spiritual practice.

Eakin Press has published the third hymnal created by Aldredge-Clanton and composer Larry E. Schultz.  Earth Transformed with Music! Is a collection of 65 hymns and short songs, with words that are beautiful and uplifting.  Words that are meant to heal and transform the earth, society, and each individual singer.

Aldredge-Clanton understands that the lyrics of sacred songs are extremely important.

“Words we sing in worship have the greatest power to shape our beliefs and actions because the music ingrains the words in our hearts.  We can contribute to transforming the world through music, through inclusive songs in worship services” (p. 7).

In the introduction to the volume, Aldredge-Clanton explains she has included hymns with the social justice themes of “racial equality, marriage equality, economic justice, and care of creation…” (p. 8).  There are several hymns that “feature biblical women, like Mary Magdalene and Miriam” (p. 9).  The lyrics “bless and affirm all genders” and recognize “LGBTQ persons as equal participants in church and society” p. 10).  Peace and non-violence are important ideals as well. As Aldredge-Clanton notes, “Peace is closely linked to justice for all people” (p. 12).

While the introduction provides a brief glimpse into Aldredge-Clanton’s philosophy of hymnody and prophetic work, the “Notes” section at the end provides more specific information on individual hymns, including the organizations, people, and situations that inspired the work.  Reading the introduction and the notes section is like reading an introduction to contemporary Christian feminism.  It’s great reading and really made the selections come alive for me.

I can’t pick favorites from this collection; I like them all.  I’ll just share a couple of examples here so you get a better picture of what you’ll find in Earth Transformed with Music!.

Hymn #14 puts lovely new words to one of my favorite tunes, NEUMARK (which some may know from the hymn “If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee”):

All day and night Shekhinah guides us; within our spirits She abides.
Kindness and wisdom deep inside us, She keeps our spirits open wide;
so we affirm and welcome all, joining with Her to take down walls.

Hymn #21, “A Stranger, Starving on the Street,” sung to the hymn tune KINGSFOLD (some may know as “O Sing a Song of Bethleham”), tells the story from Matthew 25:35-40 with a contemporary twist.  Here’s how it starts:

A stranger starving on the street, from travel, tired and sore,
has found a place to rest her feet beside our church’s door.
We bring her water, give her food, then offer swift good byes;
yet, with her hunger unsubdued, she takes us by surprise:

She moves into our sacred space, where, from the table spread,
she gives to us the cup of grace, for us breaks living bread.

There’s more, but I didn’t want to spoil it!  I really like these lyrics by composer Larry E. Schultz.  It’s cool to have a hymn tell a story, especially a story as unexpected as this one.

The hymnal is arranged by the categories of gender equality, racial equality, marriage equality, economic justice, care of creation, peacemaking, expanding spiritual experience, interfaith collaboration, comfort and healing, thanksgiving and celebration, and short songs for worship.  It’s easy to find what you need by using any of several indices included.  Look for hymns by topic, scriptural references, composers and sources, tune names, titles, or meter.

This collection brings timeless melodies, made sacred by years of being sung in worship, and places them firmly in the present with words that make sense and relate to today’s issues. When the words make sense, the message easily rides on the breath right to the singer’s heart.

blueline

Marg HerderMarg Herder is a writer, musician, photographer, and sound artist who serves as the Director of Public Information for Christian Feminism Today.  She manages the CFT website and is the author of the Where She Is blog.  More of her work can be found on Where She Is, her personal website, margherder.com, or the Emerging Voices blog on Patheos.

 

 

Originally published in Christian Feminism Today.  Reposted with permission.

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A Mother’s Journey

WatercolorFour625

Shelley & Pat Evert

Shelley & Pat Evert

At the Gay Christian Network (GCN) Conference I heard many compelling, inspiring stories. Shelley Evert told one of these powerful stories at the pre-conference weconnect Women’s Retreat. She was kind enough to send me a written copy of her story and give me permission to share it on this blog.

“Hi my name is Shelley and I’m the mom of two beautiful gay kids. Today I can honestly say that they are the best things that have ever happened in my life, but I didn’t always feel that way.

If you knew me way back when, you might say I was a bit of a control freak, pretty intense, needing everything to be black-and-white. All the puzzle pieces had to fit together.

Not surprisingly, I joined a cult like church right out of college. The kind of place where you’re told what to do and how to think about everything. We didn’t celebrate Christmas, all the wives were submissive and wore head coverings—the whole bit!

As unpleasant as that sounds, I craved the security the rigid structure gave me. We all believed exactly the same things. We could, and would, defend our beliefs as if our lives depended on it. We were the real deal. Everyone else was just playing church.

I had a paradigm that was like a little house of cards put together with superglue— all the pieces fit perfectly into place. And you can probably just imagine how we felt about ‘the homosexual agenda.’

I met and married my husband, Pat, in that church and have three children. We were in that church hook, line and sinker for 15 years and thoroughly indoctrinated! But then God intervened…

Through a series of events that could only be described as God’s grace (and that’s a whole other story), we got out of there! It wasn’t easy. We felt like we were crawling out of a black hole into a whole new world of light and freedom.

We had been so sure we were right, but we were so wrong and now we were being so changed.

Change and uncertainty can be very hard for a control freak, so I wasted no time getting my little house of cards back together again. Yes, we started celebrating Christmas and we ditched the head coverings, but we held fast to many of the unquestioned beliefs we had. And for sure, we upheld our rigid stance on the homosexual issue.

Our kids heard more than their fair share about the abomination of homosexuality while they were growing up, because that was one thing we were really sure about.

We were feeling pretty settled again, when the unthinkable happened.

One day I came home from work early and as I walked in the front door I could hear my 19-year-old son Mike talking loudly on the phone. As I stood by the door opening the mail, I could hear every word he was saying. I could not believe what I was hearing! There seemed to be only one conclusion—he was gay! But how could this be? We had never had a clue and besides he had been raised in a Christian home! I felt as if someone had kicked me in the gut. As he finished his telephone conversation, I stumbled to his door and croaked in a whisper, ‘Mike, are you gay?!’ He just looked up at me with his shy smile and nodded. My world was turned upside down in an instant. I had difficulty processing what was happening. For three hours I grilled him with question after question and for every day after that for a week. By the end of that time, I was sure about one thing: he had not chosen this.

But still there was so much that didn’t make sense. My little house of cards was crumbling again and I was very afraid and angry. Not so much at Mike, but at God.

How could he condemn somebody for something they hadn’t chosen?! The puzzle pieces just wouldn’t fit together anymore. Hard as I tried, I could not reconcile my faith with my new reality.

It did not help that the church sent us to counseling, telling us that our parenting was to blame. After three sessions, we had had enough of that. I knew we didn’t deserve any trophies for parenting, but if Mike was gay because of our dysfunctional family, then there should be millions more gays out there.

We felt so isolated and miserable, and soon I slid into depression and then into a nervous breakdown. My husband, always cool as a cucumber, was calm but held his theological ground. Our relationship with Michael was strained, to say the least.

For 6 years we struggled, cried and prayed for God to stir that latent heterosexual gene that we knew was in there somewhere and save our son. But then God intervened…

Through a series of events that could only be described as God’s grace (and that’s a whole other story) we got ‘knocked on the head.’ It was as if God were saying, ‘Wake up already! Stop blubbering and to get educated.’

We were like, ‘What! We can do that?!’ Why had we never allowed ourselves to learn the truth?
 Now we understand it was because of fear. All our lives we had been constructing these towers of doctrine because of fear. Fear of being deceived, fear of sliding down the slippery slope, and fear of getting to a place where there was too much Gray, too many unanswered questions.

Yep, we needed educating and an education we got! GCN and so many friends like Misty Irons and Rob Lincoln were a big part of that! It seriously felt like we were trying to take a drink of water from a firehose those first few months.

Here we had been praying and praying for Mike, and God was answering our prayer by changing us. Once again, we had been so sure we were right but we were so wrong and we were being changed again!

After that we were never able to completely get our theological house of cards back into tiptop shape. There were uncertainties and holes that we couldn’t fix and for the first time in my life I realized that maybe I wasn’t supposed to have it all figured out. I was beginning to be OK with that. Just beginning. This was not easy for me, but I was making progress.

I was loosening my death grip on my need for everything to be black-and-white. Whereas before, I would have viewed this as spiritual compromise and weakness, now I was beginning to embrace it!

Thankfully, it wasn’t until this stage on our journey that our daughter Becky came out to us. By that time, we were more than thrilled and threw her a beautiful wedding when she married the love of her life, Myrna. We had really changed, much to the shock of almost everyone we knew. And now, I couldn’t be happier being the grandparent of two beautiful twin girls!

And that would be a delightful way to end story, but I have to close with a few words about the latest steps on our journey, because we are always changing and really this journey never ends.

After we were asked to leave our last church (a fall out from our daughter’s wedding), we found a wonderful church called New Heart (and that too is another neat story with God’s thumb prints all over it). New Heart is a 3rd Way Church. If you are unfamiliar with third Way, in a nutshell, it’s a church family committed to loving one another and agreeing to disagree about all nonessential doctrinal issues including the gay marriage issue, evolution, creation, women in leadership and so much more.

As I very quickly discovered, you cannot love, serve and fellowship with those with whom you disagree and not be incredibly challenged and changed!

This has been the most transformative and scary year of my life! I have felt at times, as if I were in faith free fall, with nothing to hold on to, and yet, I have never felt more loved.

I have to say that my little house of cards, what was left of it, is nothing now but a puff of smoke. And the amazing thing is, I’m not only OK with that, I’m embracing it. I just don’t need to have it all figured out anymore.

Why? Because for the first time in my life I really know that I am unconditionally loved. Yes, I’ve made a lot of mistakes, as any child would, but I am deeply loved nonetheless.

I am done building walls of doctrinal certainty that separate and divide, only to have them crumble later under scrutiny. It is enough to know that I am deeply loved and cared for and will be guided safely home through it all. I am learning to deeply trust that guidance. I am learning childlike faith.

My new mantra is:

I’m so loved

I’m being guided

I can let go.

The fear and dread that used to rule me is diminishing. Of course, I am a work in progress, but I have never been more excited to see what’s next in the years to come!”

 

 

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Reflections on the Gay Christian Network Conference January 7-10, Houston, TX

WatercolorOne600It was a joy to participate in the Gay Christian Network (GCN) Conference, along with other Christian Feminism Today (CFT) members: Marg Herder, Criselda Marquez, Susan Cottrell, Deborah Jian Lee, Erica Lea, and Catherine Stremlau. Staffing the CFT table in the exhibit hall with Marg Herder, CFT’s Director of Public Information, was, for me, the best part of the conference. I came to a deeper appreciation of CFT by listening to Marg give the many people who came by our table a concise history of our groundbreaking organization, one that has been doing transformative work for 40 years, and I was impressed by her ability, at the same time, to make healing connections with so many people.

posterphoto-2As I listened to people’s stories, my heart ached over the pain they have suffered from denunciation and rejection by church and family, and I felt inspired by their courage in claiming who they’re created to be and working to liberate their churches from homophobia and unjust, unloving actions.

One young man talked about his parents’ reactions when he came out several months ago. His mother calls him demon-possessed and his father refuses even to talk to him. He has loved his conservative church, especially singing in the choir; this church has been his life. Since he has been out, he is no longer allowed to sing in the choir or even to hold membership in the church. He can attend, but no longer as a member. He continues to attend, trying to change their hearts.

One young woman told her story of coming out several years ago and trying to stay connected with her parents and church family, even though she hears over and over that her relationship with her partner is “sinful” and that they’re praying she will “repent.”

At the GCN Conference, this young man and woman, along with hundreds of others, find full acceptance and affirmation just as they are. And I, also, find acceptance just as I am.  At this conference, it’s good for me to experience being a minority, just as when I participate in worship services and other meetings where people of color predominate. Privileged in all ways except my gender, it’s good to feel what it’s like to be the “other.” And it’s good to learn from those in the majority at these meetings. People at the Gay Christian Network Conference, just as in meetings where people of color predominate, make me feel welcomed, affirmed, and completely accepted. When I introduce myself, they smile and shake my hand, and some hug me. No one asks me if I’m LGBTQ or straight. It doesn’t seem to matter to them what my sexual orientation is or if I’m married or single. No one asks me when I first knew I was straight or if I’m sure I’m straight or if I’ve prayed hard enough to change from being straight. They accept me just as I am without any questions.

I find myself longing for all faith communities and all groups to accept and celebrate LBGTQ people just as they are, without any questions. I long for all churches to welcome and affirm all people, period. No questions asked. I long for all churches to give equal value to all people because we’re all created in the divine image. Why can’t all Christians follow Jesus, who taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39)?

pleanryphoto-1Some other questions bubble up for me as I attend plenary sessions and worship services at the GCN Conference. I have the question that I often have in meetings where people of color predominate: Why don’t all oppressed groups work together to end injustice? Why don’t oppressed people feel empathy for other oppressed people and work together? Why don’t women, LGBTQ people, racial minorities, economically disadvantaged, and other oppressed groups work together to bring justice for all? How can one oppressed group oppress another? How can some African American churches deny ordination to women and deny them opportunities to serve as pastors? How can the Gay Christian Network use exclusively male language, beginning with the name of the organization, called “Gay Christian Network” instead of “LGBTQ Christian Network”? And the God worshiped at this conference is most often exclusively male. Hymns, prayers, and responsive readings projected on large screens name God as “He,” “Him,” “Father,” “Lord,” “King.” There are women keynote speakers, workshop leaders, and a few worship leaders, but not an equal number.

My friend Marg tells me that things have improved over the past few years, as she and others have advocated for more women speakers. But we both lament that the Gay Christian Network has never invited Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott to speak at a conference, even though they had the courage and compassion to make personal and professional sacrifices to write one of the first books by Christians advocating for LBGTQ people. First published in 1978, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? gives biblical support for the full affirmation and acceptance of LBGTQ people. Books since then that have made the same points are celebrated at the Gay Christian Network Conference, and their authors speak and sign books. We wonder if Letha and Virginia are overlooked because they’re women.

MargphotoMaybe women contribute to erasing women by calling everyone “you guys.” At the pre-conference weconnect Women’s Retreat, I feel perplexed and dismayed to hear some women speakers refer to the group of entirely women as “you guys.” (I’ve written about this previously.) But I smile to hear Marg call God “She” in her moving presentation and to hear several other speakers use female divine imagery. And it is delightful to gather in circles to share our stories.

events-weconnect@2xThis retreat is, indeed, a time of connection, focused on building relationships. But, like at the Parliament of the World’s Religions that had a pre-conference Women’s Assembly before the “main” conference, this pre-conference Women’s Retreat at the GCN Conference before the “main” conference also feels marginalized. It reminds me of years ago when I attended Southern Baptist conventions, where Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU) and, later, Southern Baptist Women in Ministry (SBWIM) held meetings before the “main” convention. When will women and the Female Divine be the main event? Or better still, when will women and the Female Divine and people of all races and sexual orientations be fully and equally represented in the main event?

My dream is that we will join together to create gatherings, faith communities, and a world where the wide, wild, beautiful diversity of the Divine Image is fully welcomed and celebrated.

Originally published in Christian Feminism Today.  Reposted with permission.

 

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Cultivating Peace through a Women’s Interfaith Dialogue & The Critical Role of Women in the Peacemaking Process: Shared Session at the Parliament of the World’s Religions

Isabel Docampo, Hind Jarrah, Camille Khodadad

Isabel Docampo, Hind Jarrah, Camille Khodadad

Another inspiring, challenging session at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Utah illustrated the power of women to make peace in our world.

Because of the large number of workshop proposals, many of the sessions were shared. In one shared session Isabel Docampo and Hind Jarrah spoke on “Cultivating Peace through a Women’s Interfaith Dialogue,” and Camille Khodadad spoke on “The Critical Role of Women in the Peacemaking Process.” These topics are especially timely in light of the increased Islamophobia and violence in our world.

Isabel Docampo

Isabel Docampo

Rev. Dr. Isabel Docampo began the session, telling about the Dallas Women’s Interfaith Dialogue group she helped create and lead after September 11, 2001. Muslim, Jewish, and Christian women gathered to share their stories. Isabel talked about the intersection of race, gender, class, and religion in their stories. The stories included experiences they had in common as women being subordinated as second-class citizens. “Although we had different pathways, we discovered unified perspectives on complex subjects,” Isabel said. “We named God transcending our differences, building interfaith bridges. God became visible in new ways as we bore witness to our experiences. Our lives were transformed.” Lamenting the tragedy of September 11 together, the women moved from grief into hope and imagination. Activist groups grew out of the Women’s Interfaith Dialogue. “Will hope endure?” Isabel asked and then answered, “I believe yes, because interfaith dialogue nurtures hope. Hope rises out of the ashes of despair.”

In an interview for Changing Church: Stories of Liberating Ministers, Rev. Dr. Docampo told me about experiencing the Divine Feminine through this Women’s Interfaith Dialogue group: “The most magnificent thing is to sit in a room, to be in relationship, to hear each other’s stories. I ended meetings saying, ‘The Divine Feminine has been with us tonight,’ and they would all agree. These were Muslim, Christian, and Jewish women from conservative to liberal; they were all over the place theologically. But at the end of those meetings when we really listened, when we heard each other’s pain, when someone’s story really touched us and we realized that we were all women and that God was working through us and in our lives in ways that we could not even fully articulate, I could say, ‘The Divine Feminine has been with us tonight in the most special way,’ and everyone would receive that. We were going to walk out of that room changed women, much more open to each other now.”

Hind Jarrah

Hind Jarrah

At the Parliament workshop Dr. Hind Jarrah, another leader of the Dallas Women’s Interfaith Dialogue group, illuminated the strengths of the friendship dialogue model. By focusing on building relationships as the cornerstone for interfaith dialogue, group members learn how to listen well and embrace differences respectfully. The goal is to understand differences and create goodwill. There is no hidden agenda of proving one faith as superior, and leadership is shared. “September 11 shook us like an earthquake,” Hind said. “I was afraid that when I opened my mouth, people would hear only my accent. It was a scary experience. My Christian and Jewish sisters in the dialogue group had compassion to hear and respect my voice and experience. And hearing their stories, I discovered that I’m not the only one who has truth. I learned to ask what values the religion and culture are teaching.” Hind told how the interfaith dialogue group began with only five women at a table. These women invited friends and built the group to 100. They became active in peace work in the community. “Women have great power,” she said. “We use our gifts of networking and don’t allow anyone to stop us even if our efforts are minimized.”

Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents, Dr. Jarrah has used her gifts for many years to work for peace and human rights and to promote respect for multicultural diversity. She has organized interfaith dialogue presentations in schools, colleges, churches, clubs, and international societies. She is co-founder and executive director of the Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a non-profit, educational, philanthropic, outreach and social service organization dedicated to empowering Muslim women and their families. At the Parliament workshop she told about how this organization helps victims of domestic violence and works to end misconceptions about Islam and Muslim women. Dr. Jarrah has also served on the Faith and Feminism Committee and the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.

Camille Khodadad

Camille Khodadad

At this Parliament session, Camille Khodadad, a human rights and employment lawyer, also emphasized the power of women in peacemaking. An active member of the Baha’i community, Camille said that her faith teaches the oneness of humanity and the equality of all people. These teachings have inspired her to become involved in human rights initiatives, particularly those addressing the global lack of equality for women. She stressed that gender equality is necessary to peace and social progress. “Peace cannot be achieved until women freely contribute to society’s policy making,” she said. “Social, economic, and political progress cannot be achieved until women’s equality is recognized, enabling women to fulfill their role as peacemakers.”

Ms. Khodadad cited some hopeful signs of movement toward women’s equality such as the creation of the UN Commission on the Status of Women in 1947; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, adopted in 1979 by the UN General Assembly, often described as an international bill of rights for women; and the 1993 UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women. “But we have a long way to go,” she said. “In the 21st century the paramount moral challenge is equality for women in the world.” She addressed four areas that especially need work:

(1) assuring women and girls the right to education, healthcare, and food;

(2) assuring women jobs and economic access so they can profit from work and reduce poverty (US ranks 65th in the world in wage equality);

(3) increasing women’s voices in decision making in the public sphere (US ranks 98th in the world in women’s representation in government leadership);

(4) ending violence against women and girls—one of the most widespread human rights violations worldwide; Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn write in Half the Sky that more girls are killed in this ‘gendercide’ in one decade than people were killed in all the genocides of the 20th century.

This Parliament session gave me an even deeper understanding of the connection between gender equality and peace and justice in the world. Gender equality intersects with nonviolence, racial equality, care of the environment, economic justice, and all forms of justice. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon states: “Until women and girls are liberated from poverty and injustice, all our goals—peace, security, sustainable development—stand in jeopardy.” I left the session more committed than ever to work for equality for women in the church and in other areas of life.

 

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“Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia” from Christmas Album “Sing of Peace”

One of the songs on the new Christmas album Sing of Peace is “Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia.”  Here Devi Vaani sings stanzas 2 & 3 of “Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia” at Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco (Pastor Stacy Boorn). Devi Vaani (left to right): Lana Dalberg, Dionne Kohler, Alison Newvine, and Kathleen Neville Fritz.

Painting by Katie Ketchum, photography and image effects by Stacy Boorn

Painting by Katie Ketchum, photography and image effects by Stacy Boorn

Preview and Order Sing of Peace:

 

Sing of Peace brings inspiration, healing, and empowerment through new inclusive lyrics to familiar Christmas tunes, sung in sublime harmonies by Devi Vaani.

Devi Vaani is a trio of women who write and perform music in praise of the Divine Feminine for ritual, empowerment, and justice, in the hopes that the world will re-awaken to the goodness of the Mother and once again honor all women as sacred beings in Her image.

Lana Dalberg adds her beautiful violin accompaniment to most of the songs on Sing of Peace. She is an activist-fundraiser, mother, and published author. Her most recent book, Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine, explores women’s stories of spirituality and faith.

Sing of Peace reclaims and amplifies the themes of peace, joy, hope, awe, and love that so much of the world associates with the Christmas season. It includes the experiences of women, minorities, and all oppressed people who are not directly referenced in traditional Christmas music. Including multicultural biblical female divine names and images, Sing of Peace affirms the sacred value of females throughout the world who continue to suffer from violence and abuse. This Christmas album celebrates the sacredness of all people and all creation. It weaves the magic and mystery of Christmas with urgent cries for justice, an end to suffering, and respect and dignity for all beings.

“Come to Our World, O Christ-Sophia”

Come to our world, O Christ-Sophia, Wisdom;
our hearts are longing for Your peaceful way.
Lead us from fear and bondage into freedom;
with You we labor to bring Your new day.
 
Transform our world, O Christ-Sophia, Wisdom;
the poor and wounded await healing days.
Give us the power to sound Your call to freedom;
as equal partners, we show Your new way.
 
Led by Your Truth and Life within us growing,
we follow You on Your pathways of peace.
Filled with Your grace, Your loving kindness showing,
we share our gifts and our visions release.
 
REFRAIN:
 
Our weary world still longs for new creation,
for peace and justice coming to the earth.
Hope springs anew; we sing in celebration;
O Christ-Sophia, blessed be Your birth;
O Christ-Sophia, blessed be Your birth.
 

Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice (Eakin Press, 2011).

“Christ-Sophia” is a biblical symbol of the Divine, making equal connections between male and female, black and white, Jewish and Christian traditions, thus providing a foundation for communities based on partnership instead of domination. Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom, is a biblical female divine image that opens new possibilities for justice, liberation, and new life. New Testament writers link Christ to Wisdom, a feminine symbol of God in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Wisdom (Hokmah in Hebrew) symbolizes creative, redemptive, and healing power. In their efforts to describe this same power in Christ, the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers draw from the picture of Wisdom. The apostle Paul refers to Christ as the “power of God and the Wisdom (Sophia) of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24), and states that Christ “became for us Wisdom (Sophia) from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The book of Proverbs describes Wisdom as the “way,” the “life,” and the “path” (4:11,22,26). The Gospel of John refers to Christ as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Bringing this biblical connection of Christ and Sophia to our worship can inspire partnerships that contribute to peace and justice in our world. Christ-Sophia inspires continual new birth. Christ-Sophia empowers us to make the vision of the new creation a reality. Celebrate the birth of Christ-Sophia!

 

 

 

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