Who is He–He is She

It’s a way to remember pronouns in Hebrew…who is he; he is she; dog is fish…

It’s also, perhaps, a way of looking at God…at the masculine AND the feminine aspects of God…at the fact that God is both male and female and yet transcends gender altogether. Quite frankly, I’m tired of only hearing about God using masculine pronouns. I go to church on Sunday morning and (though I haven’t actually kept count), I hear “he” and “him” and “his” in reference to God more than the actual name of God…and it makes me cringe every time I hear it. That’s why I refer to God as God, not as him or her…and that’s why, if you stand close enough to hear me sing on Sunday mornings, I have been known to change the words of songs, substituting God (or some variation on God’s name) for he, him and his…

I recognize that our faith is the product of a masculine, patriarchal society. It was developed by men way more than women. The problem is that now, there’s no room for the femininity of God. Most people in the church won’t even consider it.

If we are all created in the image of God, and we all have masculine and feminine qualities, don’t you think God does, too? If God is not in some ways a woman, how can I as a woman fully relate to God?

The Asian tradition views the Trinity as a family…you have God the Father, Christ the Son and Spirit…you guessed it…the Mother. When you think about the characteristics we attribute to the Spirit, they are those of a more feminine nature…nurturing, counseling, advising, comforting, life-giving…and all of that is rolled up into the whole of who God is.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not suggesting that ministers get up and pray to Mother God from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. As tempting as that would be, it would create more problems that it’s worth. I would like to hear the words he, him and his a LOT less on Sunday mornings, though. A LOT less. I just want people to recognize that there’s more to this God whom we claim we want to know more fully. And that perhaps in seeing a fuller picture of God, embracing both God’s masculine AND feminine qualities will enable us to relate to God and to one another in an entirely different way.

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A Red Dress and the Cross

I have a red dress necklace that I wear regularly…it’s for heart disease in women and the Go Red for Women Campaign.

I have a Celtic cross necklace that I rarely ever wear.

It occurred to me recently that I would much rather wear the red dress necklace in the hopes that people will ask about it and I will have the opportunity to talk about the Red Dress Campaign than to talk about a Celtic cross and the faith it represents.

I think it’s because I have been more profoundly, more deeply impacted by heart disease than I have by Jesus.

Is it that Jesus has been watered down by the church, suffocated by our own levels of comfort? What motivates us to pursue Jesus? Why the heck do we keep going to church Sunday after Sunday? Are we Jesus-followers or church-goers (thanks for that one, Al!)? What will make the difference for me to be a true Jesus-follower? How can I follow the Jesus portrayed by the church? How can I follow someone I don’t really even know?

Losing Jesus

The following is a poem by Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong at the beginning of his book Jesus for the Non-Religious.

The Lament of a Believer in Exile

Ah, Jesus!
Where have you gone?
When did we lose you?
Was it when we became so certain that we possessed you
That we persecuted Jews,
Excommunicated doubters,
Burned heretics,
And used violence and war to achieve conversion?
Was it when our first-century images
Collided with expanding knowledge?
Or when biblical scholars informed us that the Bible does
Not really support what we once believed?
Was it when we watched your followers distorting people
With guilt,
Fear,
Bigotry,
Intolerance,
And anger?
was it when we noticed that many who called you Lord
And who read their Bibles regularly
Also practiced slavery,
Defended segregation,
Approved lynching,
Abused children,
Diminished women,
And hated homosexuals?
Was it when we finally realized
That the Jesus who promised abundant life
Could not be the source of self-hatred,
Or the one who encourages us to grovel,
In life-destroying penitence?
Was it when it dawned on us that serving you would require
The surrender of those secutiry-building prejudices
That masquerade as our sweet sicknesses?

We still yearn for you, Jesus, but we no longer know where
To seek your presence.
Do we look for you in those churches that practice certainty?
Or are you hiding in those churches
That so fear controversy that they make “unity” a god,
And stand for so little that they die of boredom?
Can you ever be found in those churches that have
Rejected the powerless and the marginalized,
The lepers and the Samaritans of our day,
Those you called our brothers and sisters?
Or must we now look for you outside ecclesiastical settings,
Where love and kindness expect no reward,
Where questions are viewed as the deepest
Expressions of trust?

Is it even possible, Jesus, that we Christians are the villians
Who killed you?
Smothering you underneath literal Bibles,
Dated creeds,
Irrelevant doctrines,
And dying structures?
If these things are the source of your disappearance, Jesus,
Will you then reemerge if these things are removed?
Will that bring resurrection?
Or were you, as some now suggest, never more
Than an illusion?
By burying and distorting you were we
Simply protecting ourselves
From having to face that realization?

I still seek to possess what I believe you are, Jesus:
Access to and embodiment of
The Source of Life,
The Source of Love,
The Ground of Being,
A doorway into the mystery of holiness.

It is through that doorway that I desire to walk.
Will you meet me there?
Will you challenge me,
Guide me,
Confront me,
Reveal your truth to me and in me?

Finally, at the end of this journey, Jesus,
Will you embrace me
Inside the ultimate reality
That I call God
In whom I live
And move
And have my being?