Rev. Larry E. Schultz conducts the Chancel Choir and orchestra of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, in singing “Come to Me, All You with Heavy Hearts” to a familiar hymn tune, with pictures from various artists.
This hymn comes from the well known and loved words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). Many people do not know that elsewhere in the Bible almost these exact words refer to Wisdom (Sophia): “Put your necks under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction”; and “give your shoulder to her yoke. . . for in the end you will find rest in her” (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 51:26; 6:25,28). The book of Proverbs also portrays Wisdom as urging people to accept her teaching but never making this teaching specific. The implication is that Wisdom is herself what is to be learned. Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11 is similar.
There are many more biblical connections between Jesus Christ and Wisdom (Hokmah in Hebrew; Sophia in Greek). Wisdom (Sophia) and Christ both symbolize creative, redemptive, and healing power. 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). Again 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). Origen, a prominent early Christian writer, declared Sophia to be the most ancient and appropriate title for Jesus.
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 (http://www.amazon.com/Search-Christ-Sophia-Christology-Liberating-Christians/dp/1571687874/ref=ed_oe_p).
“Christ-Sophia” is the central divine symbol in this hymn. This new symbol holds power to bring healing and peace to individuals and to communities. This symbol inspires social justice through shared power and fulfills the biblical promise of new creation. “Christ-Sophia” resurrects a lost female biblical symbol and offers new possibilities for wholeness by making equal connections among genders and races, thus providing a foundation for communities based on partnership instead of domination.
Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott (http://www.virginiamollenkott.com/), author of The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female and co-author of Transgender Journeys, states: “When we use the male term ‘God’ along with the female pronoun ‘She,’ we are also including the people among us who are transgender: who feel they are both female and male inwardly, or who were born intersexual, or who have crossed over from one gender to the other in order to match their inner understanding of their gender identity. . . . since Genesis proclaims both female and male to be made in the image of God, inevitably that image is inclusive of both female and male. Transgender people are often attacked, abused, and even murdered in our society; so including them as sacred beings along with women and men is important to our Christian witness.”
Likewise, when we use the male name “Christ” along with the female name “Sophia,” we are including transgender people and people of all genders. The pictures in this video are also intended to convey the truth that “Christ-Sophia” includes all genders and races. In addition, the male/female duet, singing the words of Christ-Sophia in the hymn’s refrain, expresses gender inclusion. Bringing the biblical and historical connection between Christ and Sophia to our worship can inspire powerful partnerships that contribute to healing, peace, and justice in our world. This video comes to you with the hope that it will bring comfort and strength to you for your work of justice, peace, and caring for creation.“Come unto me, you weary ones, and I will give you rest; come, leave your burdens in my arms, and lean upon my breast.” We hear you, Christ-Sophia; our heavy hearts rejoice to bring our cares unto you, and heed your gentle voice. “Come unto me, you weary ones, and I will give you rest; come, leave your burdens in my arms, and lean upon my breast.” We labor, Christ-Sophia, to bring your truth to light; we often feel discouraged when wrong prevails o’er right. “Come unto me, you weary ones, and I will give you rest; come, leave your burdens in my arms, and lean upon my breast.” You call us, Christ-Sophia, our spirits to revive; we learn from you the Wisdom to keep our hope alive. “Come unto me, you weary ones, and I will give you rest; come, leave your burdens in my arms, and lean upon my breast.” Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006).
Recording © Jann Aldredge-Clanton & Larry E. Schultz, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians CD (Eakin Press, 2007). For permissions, contact: www.jannaldredgeclanton.com; for additional inclusive music for all ages, see: http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/music.php.
Performed by: Chancel Choir & Orchestra of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (http://www.pullen.org/). Conductor: Rev. Larry E. Schultz
Sister Marie-Celeste Fadden: “God Who Gave Birth to Humanity” © Carmel of Reno. Drawing (or sketch) by Marie-Celeste Fadden, O.C.D. Used with permission.
Pam Allen: Drawings of Mary Magdalene & Butterflies and Mother & Child © Pam Allen. Used with permission.
Mirta Toledo: “Sophia” © 2003 Mirta Toledo. Used with permission. http://www.afrolatinart.com/#/mirta- toledo/4532396991; http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/books.php#book3
Alice Heimsoth: three photos in the sanctuary of Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco (http://www.herchurch.org/) and one photo of Divine Feminine paintings by Shiloh Sophia McCloud (http://www.shilohsophiastudios.com/) © Alice Heimsoth. Used with permission. http://www.aliceheimsoth.com/gallery/258290; http://www.aliceheimsoth.com/Other/Faith-and-Feminisn-Conference/20163387_3JtgVM#!i=1593208854&k=dpj26Lv; http://www.aliceheimsoth.com/Other/herchurch-Easter-2012/22366832_Whhj3j#%21i=1792348850&k=DT4MQbt;
Shannon Kincaid: Painting of Oprah & Child © Shannon Kincaid. Used with permission. (http://www.shannonkincaid.com/)
Recorded by: Ward Productions, Pinehurst, North Carolina