In a recent online worship service of Ebenezer/herchurch Lutheran, Pastor Stacy Boorn told about a conversation with some of her clergy colleagues about inclusive worship language. One of her colleagues said, “Yes, inclusive language is important. But with so many other pressing concerns, this is not the time.” Pastor Stacy replied, “This is precisely the time.” She went on to emphasize the necessity of language inclusive of the Divine Feminine to subvert patriarchal structures at the foundation of racism, white supremacy, sexism, misogyny, and other injustices.
Colette Numajiri, one of the leaders of New Wineskins Community, posted this Female Divine picture with these words: “Racism, misogyny, and domestic violence will NEVER end as long as we keep thinking God is a white man.”
Black Lives Matter protests and marches around the country decry the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and demand the end of terrible racial injustices that Black people have suffered for centuries in our country. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exposed injustices as it takes the heaviest toll on Black and Brown communities, especially women of color in low paid, high-risk jobs.
Some signs at protests and online remind us of the connection between racial and gender justice and equity, e.g. “Black Women’s Lives Matter,” “Black Trans Lives Matter.” More than 50 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stated: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Equity for Women in the Church and The Gathering, A Womanist Church proclaim this intersection of justice concerns. Our social justice priorities are racial equity, dismantling patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism (PMS), and LGBTQIA+ equality. These justice priorities are all connected. We contribute to the dismantling of PMS with worship that includes female divine names and imagery.
If we don’t show up in person at current Black Lives Matter protests, we may feel we’re not doing our part. But the health risks may be too great for some, or we may not feel called to protest in this way. There are many other ways we can participate in this movement. We can protest with posts on social media, through our donations to justice movements and organizations, through conversations on how to be anti-racist, through speaking out and singing and writing.
My son Chad recently sent me an article with this Toni Morrison quote about the importance of our creative work.
Toni Morrison had inspired me to write Changing Church with her words, “If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Now her words that Chad sent inspired me to write this blog and create these two new videos with songs from Hersay, a collection Katie Ketchum and I collaborated on: “Sophia Wisdom Comes with Healing Power” and “Holy Darkness Stirs Our Creativity.”
We can also contribute to racial equity and justice by changing the traditional symbolism of darkness as evil or ominous and light as good to symbolism of both darkness and light as good. Too many hymns and Scripture readings have positive images of light and negative images of darkness. In our worship we can symbolize darkness as sacred and holy, as creative bounty and beauty and generativity. We can affirm the sacred value of people of color in the divine image with positive images of darkness. Our worship songs, readings, and sermons can celebrate Holy Darkness, Sacred Darkness, Creative Darkness.
This is the time!