Calling in the Key of She

CITKOSbrochureCalling in the Key of She is one of the projects of the national, multicultural, ecumenical Equity for Women in the Church Community. Calling in the Key of She is an empowerment program for clergy and religious leaders that seeks to address the gap of female leadership in Protestant churches by educating and empowering congregations to become more “female-friendly.” The project also includes programs to impact girls and boys at an early age by educating them, exposing them to female clergy and religious leaders, and allowing them to explore various aspects of ministry available to all persons.

Calling in the Key of She Empowerment ProgramMemphis Training Flyer 2017(1) copy

Equity for Women in the Church has held two Calling in the Key of She training programs, one in the spring at Perkins School of Theology and another this summer at Memphis Theological Seminary. Both these programs included powerful presentations and wisdom shared through storytelling in small groups. Below are some visual images and presentation content from these programs. Watch for more on my blog.

Rev. Andrea Clark Chambers

Rev. Andrea Clark Chambers

Both programs began with an overview presentation by Rev. Andrea Clark Chambers, Equity Board member who initiated and developed Calling in the Key of She. She defines “female-friendly” congregations as intentionally working “to create an inclusive environment,” based on the belief “that God equally loves, calls, values, and affirms the gifts of females as well as males.” Andrea laments the prevalent “one-sided model of ministry that primarily emphasizes male leadership, male gifts, male roles, and male talents.” Calling in the Key of She attempts to correct this distorted model by “re-envisioning God’s original intent given in Genesis 1 that female and male work together in fulfilling God’s plan for the world.” Andrea challenges participants to consider what difference it would make if:

  • Ÿ women and girls see themselves as active, vital participants in the life of the church;
  •  girls hear females in the Bible in a positive light;
  • Ÿ girls hear God’s name and it sounds like their own;
  • Ÿ women and girls feel equal and just as valued and affirmed as men and boys;
  • Ÿ women feel safe and welcomed in church;
  • Ÿ males believe that females must fully partner together with them to fulfill God’s kin-dom;
  • Ÿ women and girls know that they are called by God too.

Rev. Clark Chambers distributed a handout she created with practical ways for participants to work toward the Calling in the Key of She goal of creating “female-friendly” congregations. She encourages people to “bear courage,” and make a difference by making changes in language, visual imagery, and practice.

Language

  • Ÿ   Uplift scriptures that are liberating, redemptive, and life-giving to women and other oppressed groups.
  • Ÿ   Use gender inclusive language in church and society.
  • Ÿ   Use various names for God (e.g. She, Spirit, Rock, Creator, Wisdom, Mother).
  • Ÿ   Preach and teach about women as much as about men. Highlight positive aspects of women in the Bible and reinterpret texts that are used to subjugate women/girls.
  • Ÿ   Place equal value on women’s and men’s voices and contributions in church and society.
  • Ÿ   Compliment girls on more than their beauty and attitude. Look for ways to affirm and speak positively about women and girls.
  • Ÿ   Have conversations that redefine and reimagine masculinity and femininity.
  • Ÿ   Use female examples when talking about biblical topics and social issues.
  • Ÿ   Don’t make sexist jokes and remarks or laugh at them.
  • Ÿ   Refuse to participate in conversations where women and girls are not valued.
  • Ÿ   Speak up and speak out against all forms of oppression, dominance, and violence against females and other oppressed groups.

Visual Imagery

  •    In rituals, services, and ceremonies, make sure to visually represent women/girls as well as men/boys.
  • Ÿ   Place images in the church of women in the Bible as well as men.
  • Ÿ   Display pictures of God that expand our ideas of God.
  • Ÿ   Display images of women and girls as well as men who have made contributions to the church.

Practice

  • Ÿ   Start preparing girls early for leadership, including ministry roles.
  • Ÿ   Mentor girls and women so that they have access, resources, and the experiences they need to grow and develop into who God has called them to be.
  • Ÿ   Appoint women to serve on boards and committees that are traditionally led by males.
  • Ÿ   Invite women to preach in worship services not limited to “Women’s Day” and “Youth Sunday.”
  • Ÿ   Include everyone in every facet of the life of the church. Subvert the norm: invite women and girls to cut the church lawn, move tables and chairs, take out the trash, preach to men and boys; invite men and boys to prepare meals, care for children, clean the church, go on field trips.
  • Ÿ   Partner with other organizations working for women’s equality (e.g. Equity for Women in the Church, Christian Feminism Today, WomanPreach, Inc.).
  • Ÿ   Celebrate Women’s History Month.
  • Ÿ   Start a library that intentionally highlights the contributions of women in church and society and provides resources that combat sexism and other forms of oppression.
  • Ÿ   Don’t place limitations on girls and boys through attitudes, behavior, toys, colors, etc., that severely limit their identity.
  • Ÿ   Change bylaws and policies that limit women and girls in the church.
  • Ÿ   Don’t refer to women only in relation to the men in their lives (wives, mothers, sisters, etc.).
  • Ÿ   Have difficult conversations about oppression, violence, rape, and sexual harassment inside and outside the church.
  • Ÿ  Become familiar with scriptures that uplift and encourage women. Read books/articles that expand your knowledge of issues of sexism and oppression.

Rev. Clark Chambers gives this challenge: “Support the full equality and value of women in your congregation and society. Affirm the value, worth, and call of women and girls. Use your power and righteous indignation to make a difference in the world. When you have a seat at the table, use your power to liberate and do justice for all oppressed people.”

 Calling in the Key of She

 

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Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott’s Review of Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World

Coverintercultural-ministry-cover copy

In the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville, questions Grace Ji-Sun Kim and I raised in the Introduction to Intercultural Ministry keep coming to me: Will intercultural churches advance racial equality and justice? Will they help eliminate racially motivated hate crimes? In the midst of important conversations on how to dismantle white supremacy and white privilege, I’ve wondered how things would be different if there were more intercultural churches. What if people of color and white people come together in all churches, giving equal power and value to each, centering the voices and experiences of people of color who have been marginalized? What happens when we experience community together?

Although Sunday morning continues to be one of the most segregated times in America, more than fifty years after Martin Luther King’s indictment, there are signs of hope and change. Intercultural Ministry includes chapters by people who are meeting the challenges of building intercultural churches and ministries. They write about practical strategies for building intercultural churches and future possibilities. In our Conclusion we summarize this hopeful challenge: “The future of intercultural ministry lies in our willingness to claim our prophetic calling to make reality the gospel vision of radically inclusive love and justice. Those in the dominant culture find freedom from the chains of power and privilege, and those who are marginalized find freedom from the chains of oppression through the liberating power of the Resurrected One” (p. 205).

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott

Many thanks to Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott for this review of Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World, originally published in Christian Feminism Today.

Over fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King said that Sunday morning is one of America’s most segregated hours. Partly in response to that assessment, intercultural congregations urge interaction of people across racial, ethnic, and national boundaries. The goal: to value and celebrate each group’s traditions (p. ix); in fact, to build not so much an intercultural ministry as an intercultural community (p. xii).

According to Kim and Aldredge-Clanton, our Christian mandate is to preserve hope in a world full of violence, poverty, predatory lending, and deportation threats, and to be there for the people who are under threat. To accomplish this, the clergy must emerge from the pulpit and into the streets, and members must leave the pews to become reconcilers and healers of relationships. We must create communities that oppose emphasis on differences, instead welcoming the Holy Spirit’s work of radical reconciliation.

To help make all this happen, the editors have brought together fifteen pastors, theologians, teachers, and professors, all of whom share the concept that best describes the book’s purpose. Each was asked to depict the joys and trials of intercultural ministry as “bringing people of various cultures together to engage in learning from one another, giving equal value and power to each culture” (p. x).

In a delightful essay called “Long Thread, Lazy Girl,” Rev. Katie Mulligan describes her eager haste as her mother taught her to make needle-threaded paintings. She was often told to use a shorter thread—to stop trying to cut corners and save time by using longer threads. Because many of us have been given a sense of white entitlement that often extended into ownership of other people, we must now dedicate ourselves to working patiently: “Long thread, lazy girl!” (p. 166)

Leader after leader bears witness to how exhausting this work can become. Reading these witnesses, I felt thankful to have been present in Durham, North Carolina, when composer-musician Carolyn McDade led a women’s a capella workshop with a group of white women from one church and black women from another. Since everyone was female, Christian, and loved Carolyn’s music, what could go wrong? But there were so many differences of expectations and leadership that the weekend was profoundly uncomfortable, especially for the white women, who were getting a crash course in sharing the decisions. When we add race and religious practices to such matters as sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical ability, and generational attitudes, we begin to catch a glimpse of the kind of patience a multicultural ministry can call for.

Here are just a few of the remarks that especially struck me from people who have devoted their lives to a multicultural, multiracial, and multigenerational healing ministry. Rev. Peter Ahn, who works with the Metro Community Church in northern Jersey (weekly attendance 65 percent Asian, 15 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic, 10 percent white) emphasizes finding our communality in our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Looking at the moments of brokenness in the Scriptures and in the lives of his congregants, Ahn remarks that “Empowering people to follow Jesus is exponentially more effective than guilt-tripping people” (p. 156). He urges fellow leaders to “tap into their own brokenness and show people how their mourning can be turned into dancing” (p. 160). Sounds right to me.

Bishop Karen Olivetti, who helped develop the Glide Memorial Church (the 11,000-member spiritual center in San Francisco) insists that in the body of Christ, where dividing lines fall way as we all become one body, “the particularities of our differences” do not “fade away.” “In fact, 1 Corinthians 12 details the important role that diversity plays in providing wholeness. Differences are required if the body is to thrive” (p. 148). Thus the leaders must constantly be asking, “Whose voices are still silenced? Whose lives are kept in the shadows of the margins . . . sex workers, staff, addicts, donors, congregants, the housed . . . the homeless?” (pp. 142–43).

Clergy or laity, Christian or otherwise, all of us carry a vital responsibility of providing hope for our rapidly changing world. Intercultural Ministry will help every reader discern diversities that had previously seemed invisible. And it will provide incentive and techniques to transcend those challenges. What a brave undertaking!

Virginia Ramey Mollenkott, review of Intercultural Ministry: Hope for a Changing World, originally published in Christian Feminism Today. Reposted with permission.

 

Dr. Virginia Ramey Mollenkott is the author or coauthor of 13 books, including The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Feminine and Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? a Positive Christian Response (coauthored with Letha Dawson Scanzoni). She is a winner of the Lambda Literary Award (in 2002) and has published numerous essays on literary topics in various scholarly journals. In 1975, she spoke at the first national gathering of the Evangelical Women’s Caucus in Washington, D.C., and delivered plenary speeches at almost every gathering of the organization over the next 40 years. She has lectured widely on lesbian, gay, and bisexual rights and has also been active in the transgender cause. Mollenkott is married to Judith Suzannah Tilton and has one son and three granddaughters. She earned her B.A. from Bob Jones University, her M.A. from Temple University, and her Ph.D. from New York University. She received a Lifetime Achievement award from SAGE, Senior Action in a Gay Environment, a direct-service and advocacy group for seniors in New York City in 1999. At age 85, Virginia Ramey Mollenkott continues to use her doctorate in English to share insights with folks who visit the EEWC and Mollenkott websites, and with elderly people in the Cedar Creek educational programs. She has recently taught an Elderhostel course on the poems of the Rev. Dr. John Donne, and is now preparing a Fall course on John Milton’s Paradise Lost. She deeply regrets that her severe arthritis forbids her presence at recent and wonderful street protests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More Mother Eagle Songs

Eagle, nest with youngmany eagles

The biblical image of God as a Mother Eagle resonated with so many of my readers that I decided to write this follow-up to my blog with the “Mother Eagle, Teach Us to Fly” video and to include two more of my Mother Eagle songs:

35 Stir Us Out of Our Safe Nest Mother Eagle copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stir us out of our safe nest;
Mother Eagle, come nearby.
Hold us close to your warm breast,
while we learn to risk and fly.
Lift us up with you, we pray;
help us see a bright new day.

Take us up on your strong wings;
Mother Eagle, give us flight;
borne aloft our spirits sing,
as we soar into your light.
Lift us up with you, we pray;
help us see a bright new day.

Mother Eagle, send us out,
freely flying on our own.
Claiming all our gifts we shout,
glad to be at last full grown.
Soaring now with you, we say,
“Look, there dawns the bright new day.”

As with Eagle’s wings we fly,
leaving each confining place.
For fresh air and forms, we cry,
as we move out into space.
Soaring now with you, we say,
“Look, there dawns the bright new day.”

Words © 1996 Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006)

32. Come, Mother Eagle, Show the Way copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come, Mother Eagle, show the way
to streams of kindness flowing;
we long to live in peaceful lands,
where love is ever growing.

Come, Mother Eagle, stir us now
to leave confining places,
to rise to welcome everyone,
all genders, forms, and races.

Come, Mother Eagle, give us flight
to glorious revelations;
illumine ways to change our world,
to join in new creation.

Come, Mother Eagle, lift us all
to soar with you in daring,
to co-create a world of peace,
of beauty, joy, and sharing.

Words © 2014 Jann Aldredge-Clanton, from Earth Transformed with Music! Inclusive Songs for Worship (Eakin Press, 2015).

Here are some responses I received from my previous blog with the “Mother Eagle, Teach Us to Fly” video:

“What a beautiful image of our God.”
“Thank you for reminding us of Mother Eagle who encourages us to fly.”
“I felt so uplifted by this.”
“This is my ‘chill and pray’ music when I need to reboot between hospice patients.”
“This message arrived right on time for me.”

All We're Meant to BeIn my blog I wrote about how All We’re Meant to Be, by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Nancy A. Hardesty, transformed my life and vocation. So I was delighted to receive these comments from Letha:

“The message the song conveys is powerful – and so needed in these times. The emphasis on the Mother’s care and protection comes through loud and clear, but it doesn’t stop there. It emphasizes the goals of the Mother Eagle—to see her children grow strong and free to be all they were meant to be. To learn to believe they (and we) can fly and then to actually do so! To spread our wings with confidence and strength when so many forces would try to tether us to the ground and keep us from soaring.”

Letha goes on to mention an article, “Women’s Lib: Friend or Foe?,” published in The Alliance Witness in 1970, the year Nancy and she were in the early stages of writing the first edition of All We’re Meant to Be. The article presented “Women’s Lib” as “foe,” demeaning the women’s movement and arguing that “Scriptures declare unequivocally that the sexes are not equal.” Letha comments that “teachings like that were, of course, a main reason” they were writing All We’re Meant to Be. “Watching your video was such an antidote to reading those restrictive views again—views that have clipped the wings of so many girls and women and caused them to think they had no right to pray the prayer of your song. As we know, many boys and men have also been harmed by the notion that they were ordained to dominance, which all too often is being displayed in today’s political climate in a form some behavioral scientists are calling a dangerous ‘toxic masculinity.’”

All We’re Meant to Be demonstrates that Scriptures unequivocally teach gender equality. Letha and Nancy had great courage in flying out of the traditional nest to write this book. Mother Eagle helped them soar “far above the clouds” of opposition to bring this liberating Good News.

DivineFeminineAnother book that has had a significant influence on my theology and ministry is The Divine Feminine: The Biblical Imagery of God as Female, by Virginia Ramey Mollenkott. Virginia mines Scripture to elucidate Female Divine names and images, such as Midwife, Dame Wisdom, Bakerwoman, Mother Hen, and Mother Eagle. This book inspired me as I began to expand my language for Deity, to follow my calling to write on the importance of inclusive language and to create songs that include biblical Female Divine names and images.

In her chapter “God as Mother Eagle,” Virginia quotes Deuteronomy 32:11-12: “As an eagle stirs up her nest, flutters over her young, spreads abroad her wings, takes them, bears them on her wings; so God alone did lead Jacob”; and Job 39:27: “Does the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high?” She comments: “Deuteronomy 32 and Job 39 depict the mother eagle teaching her eaglets to fly and to hunt their own food. . . . the mother eagle takes the eaglets on her wings, swoops downward suddenly to force them into solo flight, then stays close to swoop under them again whenever they grow too weary to continue on their own. What a picture of a loving God, caring nurturantly for us when we are weak, yet always aiming at the goal of our maturity and internalized strength rather than at morbid dependency upon a force external to ourselves!” Virginia writes that Mother Eagle “images the nature of God in relationship to her children”; Mother Eagle pictures the Divine as “actively trying to create equals by empowering the eaglets to take care of themselves.”

How fitting it is then that Virginia Ramey Mollenkott received the first Mother Eagle Award, jointly presented by Christian Feminism Today and The Gay Christian Network. Here is a description of the award and Virginia’s acceptance speech. I hope you’ll listen to her whole speech in which she tells her inspiring story and gives compelling reasons for including Female Divine names and images in our churches. She concludes with this challenge and blessing: “Work with me and with the Cosmic Mother Eagle in the creating of social justice by stirring up our nest, fluttering over our young, and spreading abroad our wings! And may the magnificent Mother Eagle bless us everyone.”

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“Mother Eagle, Teach Us to Fly” Video

Mother Eagle, teach us to fly;
now it’s time to try our own wings.
Show us how to reach to the sky;
take us where our spirits will sing.

Mother Eagle, lift us up high;
with your help we never will fear.
New adventures we want to try;
give us faith and stay ever near.

Mother Eagle, teach us to fly!
Mother Eagle, lift us up high!
Help us to try what we’ve never tried before!
Mother Eagle, watch us do more!

Mother Eagle, watch us do more;
see us stretch to all we can be.
Far above the clouds we can soar.
Look! We’re flying happy and free!

Look! We’re flying happy and free!
Look! We’re flying free!

Music: Larry E. Schultz

Words: Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Visual Artists:

David Clanton, “Blaze of Glory” & photos of Imagine God! music camps
Pam Allen: drawings of Biblical Divine Images & Mother Eagle and Young

Recorded and Produced by: The Lodge, Indianapolis, IN

From Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God
(Choristers Guild, 2004).

Eagle, nest with youngAmong the powerful Female Divine images in the Bible is Mother Eagle. Deuteronomy 32:11-12 depicts Deity as a Mother Eagle who stirs up Her nest to get the eaglets out on their own. This is a beautiful picture of a loving Creator, caring and nurturing us as we grow, and always aiming at the goal of our becoming all She created us to be.

“See us stretch to all we can be,” a line in my Mother Eagle song (above), has important personal meaning for me. Growing up, I got messages from my church and culture that women weren’t meant to be that much. This patriarchal culture put strict limits on possibilities for women. The ideal for women was to focus on domestic life. If we ventured out from the home, we could be secretaries, nurses, or teachers. If we wanted a role in religion, we could be missionaries, but certainly not pastors.

51vbHAaHTKL._AC_US218_It never occurred to me to question these messages about what women could and could not do at home or in church and society, until I read All We’re Meant to Be: A Biblical Approach to Women’s Liberation, by Letha Dawson Scanzoni and Nancy A. Hardesty (now in 3rd edition). In this book I discovered more than enough biblical support for gender equality in the home, in church leadership, and in all areas of life. In addition, this book introduced me to the “radical” idea that God might be more than male. Although Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique had come out more than 10 years earlier, I’d never heard of the book or raised any questions about women’s traditional roles. The call to gender justice could reach me only through the Bible and interpretations of it.

My mind and spirit began to stretch so that I could imagine new vocational possibilities. I was than receptive when the Spirit called me to pastoral ministry, that soon included social justice activism and writing on gender equality.

The beautiful biblical picture of God as Mother Eagle continues to empower me, and I offer it to you for inspiration and renewed hope. God is like a mother eagle that teaches her young eagles to fly and to hunt their own food. When the little eagles are old enough to leave the nest, their mother shakes the nest and flutters her wings over them. Then she takes them on her wings to teach them to fly. When she thinks they are ready, she swoops down to let them fly on their own. But she stays close enough to swoop back under them and help them when they become too weary and weak to continue flying on their own.

Mother Eagle has helped me to stretch to all I can be in ways beyond what I could have imagined. She helps me to try new adventures in my creative writing and social justice activism. I’m in awe of all She has helped us accomplish through Equity for Women in the Church, New Wineskins Community, and Christian Feminism Today, and inspired by visions of new possibilities as we soar together with Her. But as most social justice advocates will acknowledge, this work is long and hard, and we don’t always see the changes we long for. Sometimes we become too weak and weary to continue. Mother Eagle comes to help, taking us up again on Her strong wings until we’re ready to soar again.

May Mother Eagle help us all to continue stretching to all we can be. May She help us reach to the sky as we fly happy and free!

MOther Eagle, teachigImagine145freedom7

 

 

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“Listen, Wisdom Is Calling” Video

Listen! Listen!
Listen, Listen!

Listen, listen, Wisdom is calling,
teaching us Her fairness and peace.
Guiding us to love one another,
She will help all violence to cease.

Listen! Listen!
Listen, listen!
Follow, follow, follow, follow!

Follow, follow, Wisdom is leading,
showing us Her pathway to right.
Let us go together with Wisdom;
She will lead to kindness and light.

Listen! Listen!
Listen, listen!
Follow, follow, follow, follow!
Rise up! Rise up!

Rise up, rise up, Wisdom is coming,
bringing gifts more precious than gold.
She will shower us with Her blessings;
with Her grace our talents unfold.

Listen! Listen!
Listen, listen!
Follow, follow, follow, follow!
Rise up! Rise up!

Music: Larry E. Schultz
Words: Jann Aldredge-Clanton
Visual Artists:
Elizabeth Zedaran, “Flow”
Mary Plaster, “Sophia, Divine Wisdom”
David Clanton, “Tree of Life” & photo of dancing children
Angela Yarber, “Sophia”
Mirta Toledo, “Saint Sophia”
Alice Heimsoth, photo inside Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, San Francisco
Recorded and Produced by: The Lodge, Indianapolis, IN
From Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God
(Choristers Guild, 2004).

"Sophia" by Mirta Toledo

“Sophia” by Mirta Toledo

Our world is in deep need of the healing that Divine Wisdom can bring. Many years ago commentator Bill Moyers wrote, “The news is not good these days. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called Hokmah (“Wisdom”), the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on us.” The news is even worse now. And the future of our world does depend on us. Wisdom calls us to join Her in actions that bring peace and justice.

The Bible records Wisdom’s saying, “From everlasting I was firmly set, from the beginning, before earth came into being” (Proverbs 8:23). Wisdom has been here from the beginning, but She has too often been stifled, demeaned, or ignored. For centuries She has also been in the Bible, but She has too often been excluded from worship. Wisdom is Hokmah in the Hebrew Scriptures and Sophia in the Greek New Testament.

In all my years growing up in church I never heard God referred to as “She,” even though the Bible presents Wisdom as a prominent female personification of God and refers to Wisdom as “She.” Most churches still exclude Wisdom and other biblical female references to Deity. But those who include Her and follow Her are deeply blessed. “Happy are those who find Wisdom. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with Her. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all Her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of Her; those who hold Her fast are called happy. Prize Her highly, and She will exalt you; She will honor you if you embrace her. She will place on your head a fair garland; She will bestow on you a beautiful crown” (Proverbs 3:13,15,17-18).

New Testament writers link Wisdom (Sophia) 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 Sophia from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). The book of Proverbs describes Wisdom as the way, the life, and the path (Proverbs 4). The writer of the gospel of John refers to Christ as “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

More than ever, our country and our world are in deep need of Wisdom. But Wisdom is sadly missing. Instead of Wisdom, we have racism, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, classism, and other injustices. Instead of Wisdom, we have violence. Instead of Wisdom, we have greed. Instead of inclusive images of Deity that affirm all human beings as created in the divine image, we have exclusively male images that devalue more than half of humanity. We need Wisdom and other female divine images so that there will be justice for females and for all human beings. Without Wisdom we all suffer.

"Sophia, Divine Wisdom," by Mary Plaster

“Sophia, Divine Wisdom,” by Mary Plaster

Wisdom, a female divine image, can help to overcome injustice and to create a world of shared power. Including female divine images gives sacred value to women and girls who for centuries have suffered from abuse, oppression, exclusion, discrimination. In the U.S. alone, every 15 seconds a woman is battered. One in three women experiences some kind of abuse. Seventy percent of the poor are women. Only 20% of members of the current U.S. Congress are women. By balancing female and male names for Deity, we give strong support to the equal value of women and men. When God is seen as female, then women and girls are seen in Her image and thus respected and valued. Including female divine names and images in our worship lays a foundation for change that contributes to equality and justice.

Listen! Wisdom is calling. For so long She has been calling us to justice and peace. “Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares She raises Her voice. At the busiest corner She cries out; at the entrance of the city gates She speaks: ‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? Give heed to my reproof; I will pour out my thoughts to you; I will make my words known to you’” (Proverbs 1:20-23).

In a world of divisions and brokenness, hatred and violence, Wisdom can bring peace, love, and wholeness. Let us name Her and celebrate Her in our worship. Let us listen to Her voice! Let us follow Her pathways to peace! Let us rise up with Her to bless the world!

 

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