On the Feast Day of the Slaughter of the Innocents

A Meditation on 1 John 1:5-2:2

Beloved friends,
This is the message that I understand from Jesus,
Whom we call the Anointed One.
This is the message I share with you,
Asking for your own thoughts
And your corrections, if needed:
God is the light of acceptance,
In God there is no darkness of rejection at all.
If we say, “We live in community with others,”
Yet we continue to reject some,
Well then, we lie and do not act in truth.
But if we live in the light of accepting others
As God is the light of acceptance,
Then we have loving community with one another.

The life of God’s son, Jesus, shows us how to live with God.

If we say, “We are alone, there is no God,”
We simply deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge God-in-us, God is faithful and just
And will live in us
Helping us avoid wrong thinking,
Unkind actions,
Mistaken judgements.
If we say, “We have never made those mistakes,”
Ha, we only fool ourselves
And God’s word and life is not in us.

My friends, I am writing this
So that we may not reject and despise,
Abuse and exclude each other.
But we will fail sometimes.
We will fail but that does not mean we have no hope.
We always have hope of light, even in darkness,
Because we have an Advocate with God, our loving Parent.
We have a wise big brother,
Jesus Christ the accepting one, the righteous one.
His life is the example for us to follow,
His words are a guide out of the darkness of rejection
Into God’s light of acceptance.
Following Jesus, even into exile for a time if necessary,
We will cherish innocence, not slaughter it.
We will listen to wise women and men,
Not try to deceive them or tell them what to do.
Our hearts will be lightened in community
Not darkened in exclusion.
Our spirits will be lightened by equality
Not darkened by hierarchy
And not just our hearts, not just our spirits
But everyone’s.

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Who Does This?

What silly teenager tells her intended
That God got her pregnant?
What stupidly in love grown man
Believes her?
What fool looks in a cow’s feeding trough
And sees a king?
What idiot follows a homeless man
Believing him to be the conqueror?
What crazy person knows their friend was executed
And then talks and walks and eats with him?
What thinking woman recognizes toxic patriarchy
And still follows Jesus?
Please, God, if You will
Give me the grace to be
A silly, stupidly in love, foolish idiot,
A crazy, thinking woman
Who follows Jesus.
Amen.

What I Heard When Zechariah Spoke (Based on Luke 1:68-79)

Blessed be the God of all peoples,
who has come and set us free,
who has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of God’s servants, David, his wives and concubines:
Bathsheba, Ahinoam of Jezreel, Abigail the Carmel,
Maachah of Geshur, Haggith, Abital and Eglah,
Probably other wives and concubines, nameless now,
But once young women with names and dreams.
Through prophets God promised of old
To save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
Through many women – Rachel, Rebecca, Leah,
Miriam, Tamar, Rahab,
Deborah, Jael, Ruth,
Elizabeth, Mary, the mother of Jesus,
the sisters Martha and Mary,
Mary of Magdala, Priscilla, Junia,
Lydia, Lois and Eunice
and so many unnamed –
God showed mercy to our mothers and fathers
and honored the holy covenant,
the oath sworn to our father Abraham,
the oath for the children of our mothers,
Sarah, Hagar and Keturah:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship without fear,
holy and righteous in God’s sight
all the days of our lives, all the ways of our faith.

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high breaks upon us,
to shine on us who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

A Woman’s Magnificat

My soul proclaims the greatness of my divine Sovereign;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for God has looked upon this lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is the Name of the Almighty
God has mercy on those who fear the Almighty
in every generation.
God has shown the strength of the Almighty’s arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
God has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
God has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich God has sent away empty.
God has come to the help of the Almighty’s servant Israel
for God remembered the promise of mercy,
the promise God made to our fathers and mothers,
to Abraham and Sarah and their children for ever.”

What If

[A meditation on Hebrew 10:5-10]

What if there were no Annunciation
No miraculous conception
No Magnificat?

What if there were no angels
No shepherds
No wise men?

Just a starry starry night
And a young couple
Far from home
By order of the emperor

What if there were no flight
No slaughter of the innocents
No Simeon, no Anna?

What if there were no healings
No loaves and fishes
No walking on water?

Just a conquered people
And a young man
Walking the land
Bringing hope and good news

What if there were no betrayal
No crucifixion
No resurrection?

What if there were no broken bond with God
No stain of original sin
No need for sacrifice?

Just Jesus, son of Joseph and Mary
Sent by God
To turn us away from sacrifice
And back to simple joy

What if we believed
That burnt offerings and sacrifices
Are not what God wants?

What if we believed
That God was, is always, with us
But that we need reminders?

Would that be so terrible?

To go to Jesus
Not because he was God
But because he was human

To go to Jesus
Not because of his death and resurrection
But because of his life and words

To go to Jesus because he knew
Though he was just human
That He – like all of Us –
Is Immanuel, God With Us

To go to Jesus

Paraphrase of Isaiah 26:1-6

Some day (please, God, soon) this song will be sung in the land of Rebecca:
We have a welcoming home; there God offers us security like a mother’s strong arms.
Let us forever open wide our mothering arms, so that the forsaken who keep faith may find refuge.
Those of steadfast mind You keep in peace— in peace because they trust in You.
Let us trust in the Lady Wisdom forever, for in God we have an everlasting mother.
For She has brought low the self-righteous inhabitants of the height;
the lofty glittering city of priestly privilege She lays low.
She lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.
Her foot tramples it, opening its streets and churches
To the feet of the poor, the steps of the needy,
To the voices of the silenced, the cries of the abused.

Paraphrase of Baruch 5:1-9

Daughters of Rome, take off your robe of mourning and misery;
put on the splendor of glory from God forever:
wrapped in the cloak of justice from God,
bear on your head the mitre
that displays the glory of the eternal name.
For God will show all the earth your splendor:
you will be named by God forever
the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.

Up, Daughters of Rome! stand upon the heights;
look to the east and see your children
gathered from the east and the west
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that they are remembered by God.
Driven away by their abuser-priests they left you:
but God will bring them back to you
borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.
For God has commanded
that every lofty mountain be made low,
and that the age-old depths and gorges
be filled to level ground,
that God’s chosen people may advance secure in the glory of God.
The forests and every fragrant kind of tree
have overshadowed God’s chosen at Her command;
for God is leading Her chosen people in joy
by the light of Her glory,
with Her mercy and justice for company..