Short Songs for Worship in New Hymnbook

"Sophia, Divine Wisdom" by Mary Plaster

“Sophia, Divine Wisdom” by Mary Plaster

Earth Transformed coverFinalEarth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship includes multigenerational short songs for various part of worship services, such as invocations and benedictions. This special feature makes the collection easy to use in a variety of settings, from small groups to large congregations.

It’s been delightful to collaborate with composer Larry E. Schultz, who wrote new tunes for these short songs. Here is one of the fresh, lovely new tunes that Larry created for one of the songs in this collection, “Come, Sophia Wisdom, Come, along with the lyrics:

 

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come, live in our hearts;

come, Sophia Wisdom, come, peace to impart.

Heal us, bless us, stir us, and free us.

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come, live in our hearts.

 

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come live throughout earth;

come, Sophia Wisdom, come, bringing new birth.

Heal all, bless all, stir all, and free all.

Come, Sophia Wisdom, come, live throughout earth.

Words © 2014 Jann Aldredge-Clanton

This song is a prayer to Sophia to bring healing, peace, and freedom to all people and all creation.

"Sophia" by Mirta Toledo

“Sophia” by Mirta Toledo

The Bible links Sophia (Greek word for “Wisdom” in the Christian Scriptures) to Christ. 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 records Jesus’ saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Bible describes both Wisdom (Sophia) and Christ as having creative, redemptive, and healing power. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus identifies with Wisdom (Sophia): “the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet Wisdom (Sophia) is vindicated by her deeds” (Matthew 11:19). My book In Search of the Christ-Sophia: An Inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians gives a thorough explanation of the connection between Christ and Sophia (Wisdom) in Scripture and in Christian tradition.

Sophia and other biblical female images of the Divine hold great power to bring healing, justice, peace, and freedom. Even though Divine Wisdom (Hokmah in Hebrew, Sophia in Greek) is a prominent name for God in the Bible, She is ignored and excluded in most churches. Just as women have been excluded from leadership and still are in numerous churches, Divine Wisdom may be excluded from worship because the Bible presents Divine Wisdom as female and refers to Divine Wisdom as “She.” Also, people don’t always want to learn from Her and follow Her paths of peace and justice (Proverbs 1:20-13; Proverbs 3:13-18; 8:1-20). Divine Wisdom (Hokmah, Sophia) is among the many biblical female divine names and images.

Including these female images along with other biblical divine images to create gender-balanced worship will expand our spiritual experience and contribute to equality and justice in human relationships.

We can contribute to transforming our world through our prayers to Sophia and our songs that celebrate Her healing power.

FreedomSophia copy

 

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Review of New Hymnbook in Baptist Peacemaker

For more than 30 years, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America (BPFNA) has been doing amazing work in the world. Through education and advocacy BPFNA contributes to the transformation of individuals, churches, and the wider society.

BPFNA brings together churches and individuals from Canada, the United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, celebrating and supporting the peacemaking work done not only by Baptist churches but by other faith traditions. The Peace Fellowship raises the visibility of peacemaking efforts; brings peacemakers together in regional and international gatherings; and provides resources, speakers, and training to members. Actively connecting with peacemakers from other traditions, faith-based and secular, BPFNA builds alliances and works together toward our common goal of a more just and peaceful world.

For several decades I have been blessed by being a member of The Baptist Peace Fellowship. Baptist Peacemaker, the publication of the Fellowship, has especially challenged, educated, and inspired me.  My good friend Katie Cook has done outstanding work as editor of Baptist Peacemaker for many years.

I’m honored that the April-June issue of Baptist Peacemaker includes the following review of Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship, along with a description of the first two hymnals I also wrote in collaboration with composer Larry E. Schultz.    Hymnal Review

Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship

A Hymnal by Jann Aldredge-Clanton

reviewed by Thom Longino

I confess: I am one of those people who saves the bulletin from Sunday’s worship service to refer back to through the week. Sometimes I will say a prayer that has been used, but often I will refer back to a hymn so I may sing it as a prayer to center myself in the Sacred during the course of my week. Sometimes I even find myself singing a hymn to myself from the previous Sunday’s service, and that is usually my clue that I should refer back to the bulletin to sing the whole hymn. I am quirky like that.

Earth Transformed coverFinalRecently, I found myself singing the lines “Praise Sophia, Holy Wisdom, praise her many names and forms.” It’s easy to remember because it is to the tune of “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.” I referred back to my bulletin, and sure enough, it was there. I sang all the verses as I sat in prayer. This hymn brings a smile to my heart.

As I looked over the bulletin, all the hymns used were penned by Jann Aldredge-Clanton. This is nothing new for where I go to church, Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco, CA. Pastor Stacy Boorn has used Jann’s hymns in worship for quite a few years. What was different about the hymns that Sunday were all from Dr. Aldredge-Clanton’s newest hymnal Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship.

There is another reason I often save and refer back to my bulletins from Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran. That is because I work as a street chaplain in San Francisco, and I will often use Jann’s hymns in some of the groups and Bible studies I help facilitate. Her use of new words to tunes many are familiar with makes the hymns easy to sing, often providing a good centering and jumping off point for prayer, conversation and sharing.

In the past I have used more of Jann’s Advent/Christmas/Epiphany hymns, but as I thumb through her new hymnal, I foresee using some of the new hymns from Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship.

I am excited to further explore these hymns as my pastor uses them in worship, because they often dance in my soul. I look forward to sharing them with the folks I work with on the streets, because I love sharing joy and helping others explore who Sophia may be for them.

—Rev. Thom Longino is a person of many hats: a member and adjunct pastor at Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran in San Francisco, CA; a street chaplain, with the San Francisco Night Ministry and the Faithful Fools Street Ministry; a member of the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans; and a budding spiritual director.

Hymnals by Jann Aldredge-Clanton and Larry E. Schultz

Jann Aldredge-Clanton writes, “Words we sing in worship have great power to shape our beliefs and actions.” She has published three hymnals with this in mind. Many of the tunes are drawn from the church’s rich tradition, but all three hymnals include original tunes and arrangements by composer Larry E. Schultz. Below are descriptions of Jann’s first two hymnals.

• Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians

The wide variety of biblical divine names and images in this hymnal are based on the sacredness of all people and all creation. It includes 116 hymns, notes and extensive indexes, drawing from prophetic, liberating tradition in Scripture. Themes include peace, justice, resurrection, abundant life, liberation, new creation and partnership in relationships. The collection celebrates the seasons of the church year and other special occasions. It balances female and male divine names and resurrects ancient female divine images.

• Inclusive Hymns for Liberation, Peace, and Justice

The second collection, like the first, is designed to contribute to an expansive theology and an ethic of equality and justice in human relationships. It covers gender, race, interfaith cooperation, sexual orientation, ecology and other social justice issues. This collection also includes hymns of lament and hymns that celebrate special occasions. Many are appropriate for interfaith settings. Most of the hymns are set to widely known tunes, many with fresh arrangements.

All three hymnals can be purchased on Amazon or on Jann’s website, www.jannaldredgeclanton.com.

April-June 2016 Baptist Peacemaker  Baptist Peacemaker, April-June 2016

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UN Commission on the Status of Women: Women’s Empowerment and Its Link to Sustainable Development

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At the 2016 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW), I realized anew the intersectionality of gender equality and other justice concerns. The theme of this year’s UN CSW, “Women’s Empowerment and Its Link to Sustainable Development,” underscores this connection.

UNBannerMeIncome inequality is inextricably linked to gender inequality. Of the 1.3 billion people worldwide in extreme poverty, 70% of them are women or girls. Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours, but earn only 10 percent of the world’s income. They own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. It is impossible to eliminate economic injustice without eliminating gender injustice and gender inequality.

The UN CSW also emphasized the connection between sexism, racism, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, violence, and exploitation of the earth. Working for gender equality is imperative to justice and peace.

Empowered women lead the way in justice and peace activism. One session co-sponsored by the Medical Mission Sisters, addressed the prevalence of human trafficking and how to eliminate this terrible violence and help victims to take control of their lives. Another session, “Mothers of Peace—Faces of Courage & Commitment,” highlighted women who are standing against Islamic extremism.

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Another panel discussed collaboration with the legal community to take action toward eliminating violence against senior women and all women. Panelists emphasized the spiritual as well as the physical and emotional suffering caused by violence against women.

The 2016 UN Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) made commitments to work for gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. Women and girls from 45 countries—including Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Israel, and United States—gathered to develop global policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide. UN woman copyUNConferenceUNafterSession In spite of the enormous challenges that women still face, we are making slow progress toward equality.

UNSignUNSign2UNSign3Here are some of the reaffirmations and commitments made at this year’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women:

  1. The Commission reaffirms the commitments to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls made at United Nations summits and conferences.
  1. The Commission reaffirms that the promotion and protection of, and respect for, the human rights and fundamental freedoms of women, including the right to development, should be mainstreamed into all UN policies and program aimed at the eradication of poverty, and also reaffirms the need to take measures to ensure that every person is entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, and political development and that equal attention and urgent consideration should be given to the promotion, protection and full realization of civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights.
  1. The Commission welcomes the commitment to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, recognizes that women play a vital role as agents of development, and acknowledges that realizing gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is crucial to progress across all Sustainable Development goals. The Commission stresses that the achievement of full human potential and of sustainable development is not possible if women and girls continue to be denied the full realization of their human rights and opportunities.
  1. The Commission expresses concern that the feminization of poverty persists and emphasizes that the eradication of poverty in all its forms is an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. The Commission acknowledges the mutually reinforcing links between the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls and the eradication of poverty.
  1. The Commission reaffirms that the right to education contributes to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, human rights, sustainable development, and poverty eradication.
  1. The Commission recognizes that achievement of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires the full integration of women into the formal economy, including their equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life and through changing the current gender-based division of labor to ensure that unpaid care and domestic work is equally shared.
  1. The Commission recognizes that conflicts, human trafficking, terrorism, violent extremism, natural disasters, and other emergency situations disproportionately affect women and girls.
  1. The Commission recognizes the challenge climate change poses to the achievement of sustainable development and that women and girls, who face inequality and discrimination, are often disproportionately affected by the impact of climate change and other environmental issues.
  1. The Commission strongly condemns all forms of violence against all women and girls. It expresses deep concern that discrimination and violence against women and girls continues in all parts of the world and that all forms of violence against women and girls are impediments to the full achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and to the development of their full potential as equal partners with men and boys.
  1. The Commission, while welcoming progress made toward gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, emphasizes that no country has fully achieved gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, that significant levels of gender inequality persist globally, and that many women and girls experience marginalization owing to intersecting forms of discrimination throughout their lives.
  1. The Commission recognizes the importance of fully engaging men and boys as agents and beneficiaries of change in the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and as allies in the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls.
  1. The Commission commits to ensuring the promotion and protection of the human rights of all women and their sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.
  1. The Commission commits to promote and respect women’s and girls’ right to education at all levels, ensuring that women and girls have equal access to career development, training, scholarships, and fellowships, and by adopting positive action to build women’s and girls’ leadership skills and influence; adopt measures that promote, respect and guarantee safety of women and girls in the school environment, and measures to support women and girls with disability in all levels of education and training.
  1. The Commission commits to adopt and ensure the effective implementation of laws that criminalize violence against women and girls, as well as comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and gender-sensitive preventive and protective measures to eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls, in public and private spaces.
  1. The Commission commits to fully engage men and boys, including community leaders, as strategic partners and allies in achieving gender equality and the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls both in public and private spheres; design and implement national programs that address the role and responsibility of men and boys to ensure equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men in caregiving and domestic work; eliminate social norms that condone violence against women and girls; address the root causes of gender inequality such as unequal power relations, social norms, practices, and stereotypes that perpetuate discrimination against women and girls; and engage them in efforts to achieve gender equality for the benefit of all genders.
  1. The Commission commits to take measures to ensure women’s full and equal participation in all fields and leadership at all levels of decision-making in the public and private sectors, and in public, social, economic, and political life and in all areas of sustainable development.
  1. The Commission commits to take measures to ensure women’s full participation at all levels and at all stages in peace processes and mediation efforts, conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping, peace building, and recovery.
  1. The Commission commits to formulate and implement, in collaboration with indigenous women and their organizations, policies and programs designed to strengthen their leadership in sustainable development and to eliminate discrimination and violence against indigenous women and girls, which they are disproportionately vulnerable to and that constitutes a major impediment to indigenous women’s full and equal participation in society, the economy, and political decision-making.
  1. The Commission commits to increase resources and support for grassroots, local, national, regional, and global women’s organizations to advance and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and the human rights of women and girls.
  1. The Commission calls on governments to enhance coordination of national mechanisms for promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, and to ensure that national planning, decision-making, policy formulation and implementation, budgeting processes, and institutional structures contribute to the achievement of gender equality.

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“What Wondrous Thing” Video

What wondrous thing is happening here
where minds and souls are opening?
The scales fall off our blinded eyes;
new sight arouses hoping.
 
A new thing springs forth on the earth
with blessing, hope, and healing;
the power of woman saves all life,
Sophia-Christ revealing.
 
Epiphany surrounds us now,
as we reclaim our wholeness;
Sophia-Christ within us all
inspires us with new boldness.
 
Refrain:
 
Look, look, for She is here;
Her wisdom words have long been near.
Now, now, behold Her grace,
Divinity in Her image.

 

Words  © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006). For permissions, contact: www.jannaldredgeclanton.com.

 

Performed by: Devi Vaani (Kathleen Neville-Fritz, Dionne Kohler, and Alison Newvine), from album “Sing of Peace,” recorded by Joe Hoffmann Studios, Occidental, CA

Lyrics: Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Visual Artists: David Clanton, Colette Cashburn Numajiri, Elizabeth Zedaran, Stacy Boorn, Lucy Synk, Mirta Toledo, Mary Plaster

The lyrics of this song draw from these biblical passages:

Genesis 1:27 proclaims that female and male are created in the image of the Divine; therefore, Deity includes female and male. This fullness of divinity has long been hidden under layers of exclusively male sacred images. Female divine images may at first startle us with their unexpectedness because of our culture’s long devaluing of females. The Female Divine has been hidden, but now She is being resurrected.

1 Corinthians 1:24 & 30 declare that Christ is the Wisdom (Sophia) of God and that Christ became for us Sophia from God. The early church believed that Jesus was a revelation of Sophia (Greek for “Wisdom”). Early Christians associated Jewish wisdom literature’s personified Sophia with Jesus, believing Jesus to be the incarnation of divine Sophia.

Jeremiah 31:22 celebrates a new thing on the earth: the power of woman reordering relationships and saving life. This “new thing” that began long ago in Jeremiah’s day is springing up on a larger scale today as individuals, churches, and other organizations discover the great need for women’s gifts for the healing of our world.

The UN Commission on the Status of Women (UN CSW) emphasized this need for women’s gifts. This year’s theme was “Women’s Empowerment and Its Link to Sustainable Development.” Women from 45 countries—including Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Bangladesh, Belgium, Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Israel, United States—gathered to develop global policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide. In spite of the enormous challenges that women still face, we are making slow progress toward equality.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn in their book Half the Sky echo the theme of this year’s UN CSW on women’s empowerment as the key to sustainable development. They illustrate that the key to economic progress for all countries lies in unleashing women’s potential. When women gain equal opportunities in education, jobs, pay, government positions, and other areas of life, their countries prosper. For example, an equal job opportunity for a woman provides not only economic security for her, but also resources that she uses to transform her community. Empowering women, Kristof and WuDunn demonstrate, is the best strategy for eliminating poverty.

Empowering women to become all we’re created to be in the divine image brings transformation to all life. Including the Female Divine in our worship provides a theological foundation for this empowerment which leads to transformation.

“Look, look, for She is here; Her wisdom words have long been near. Now, now, behold Her grace, Divinity in Her image.”

 

 

 

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After the Dust Settles: Healing Your Wounded Heart

Kirsti Reeve, Marg Herder, Susan Cottrell

Kirsti Reeve, Marg Herder, Susan Cottrell

Another powerful workshop I participated in at the Gay Christian Network (GCN) Conference was “After the Dust Settles: Healing Your Wounded Heart,” led by Marg Herder, Susan Cottrell, and Kirsti Reeve. Here is their description of this workshop:

Many LGBT Christians and their allies have been deeply wounded. In many cases, we’ve suffered as our connections with church communities, family members, and friends have been abruptly severed. We invite everyone to a conversation about what comes next, after your heart has been broken and you have lost much of what you always thought your life would be.

Marg Herder, Director of Public Information for Christian Feminism Today and one of the organizers of the GCN pre-conference weconnect Women’s Retreat, began by telling her moving story.

Growing up in a Presbyterian church, Marg was groomed to be a church musician, like her mother and grandmother. Marg loved her church. It was a “safe” place for her, unlike her difficult home life and her school where she didn’t think she fit the “girl” mold.

In her teens Marg fell in love with a friend from church. Marg felt that God was in this relationship, and so did her friend. But her friend wanted to be a minister and knew that she couldn’t if she came out. Her friend finally broke off the relationship.

Even more painful for Marg was her minister’s reaction to her coming out to him. He told her that he would no longer allow her to work with the children in the church. “Now the church no longer felt safe,” Marg said. “No loss has ever been so painful. I had everything and then I had nothing. I stayed high about 20 years so I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have anything to do with Christians because they had taken my home away. When the church says ‘no more,’ it’s like family kicks you out. It’s like an assault, like being raped. What happened to me was a trauma.”

Later, Christian Feminism Today (CFT) brought Marg back to Christianity. In CFT she heard, “You look like a child of God to us; come be with us.” Marg said that with this acceptance she began to heal.

Following Marg’s story, Susan Cottrell, founder of FreedHearts and mother of two queer daughters, talked about her experiences as an advocate and ally of LGBTQ persons.

“The LBGTQ community is bringing much-needed change to the church,” Susan said. “The church is having to face that they don’t have it all together.”

Susan encouraged participants to recognize “microaggressions,” defined as “insults and dismissals directed at any socially marginalized group.” For example, “calling someone a ‘faggot’ is a microaggression,” Susan said. “It’s an assault. When you object to this assault, you’re not just ‘being too sensitive’ as some people might say. When you’re misunderstood, it’s not your fault. You know what’s true for you. You know what feels like microaggression. Be authentic with yourself and your relationships. You heart knows what you need and what’s important for you.”

Kirsti Reeve, a professional counselor, expanded on the subject of microaggressions. “Having scripture used against you, being called ‘abomination’ is a microaggression,” she said. ”It is a trauma. You get to name what’s been traumatic for you. Don’t let people say, ‘It’s not a big deal. Just move on. Just forgive.’ This minimization can make the trauma worse. Slurs and being misidentified are microaggressions. They take a toll over time; they wear you down, causing depression and anxiety.”

Some of the emotional symptoms of trauma that Kirsti mentioned are denial, anger, confusion, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, panic attacks, disassociation, flashbacks. Physical symptoms may include insomnia, nightmares, headaches, other pain, fatigue, nausea, muscle tension, heart racing.

After giving their brief presentations, Marg, Susan, and Kirsti divided us into circles to share our stories of healing our wounded hearts. They invited everyone, LGBTQ and straight people, into these circles, knowing that we all have wounds that need healing. Here I felt totally included and accepted. It’s tragic that many LGBTQ people still don’t find this kind of inclusion and acceptance in some Christian settings.

In addition to telling our stories, we reflected on questions about our concepts of God. The questions, distributed on a handout, included: How do I think God feels about my orientation/identity? What is one thing I’m confident that God is? When I really need help, how do I experience God? I especially appreciated the statement preceding the questions, connecting our images of the Divine and our images of ourselves: “How we see God is the most important thing about us, because it reflects how worthy, lovable, or acceptable we think we are.”

In this workshop I experienced anew the power of hearing and telling our stories— stories of our wounds, stories of healing our wounded hearts, and stories of our connection with the Divine Healer and our experience of Her healing power.

 

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