10Q10Q -- faith, life, rethinking church, following Jesus...stuff

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Women on the Edge

What if love, not force, is most important in life?  Getting ready for Christmas, Advent in my circles, is all about entertaining a relentless Love-that-will-not-let-us-go, and that does the impossible.  Getting close to such a thing takes us close to the edge, dangerously amazing places.

Speaking of Mary & Elizabeth in Luke's Gospel, Brian McLaren writes, "...the actual point of these pregnancy stories... is a challenge to us all: to dare to hope, like Elizabeth and Mary, that the seemingly impossible is possible.  They challenge us to align our lives around the 'impossible possibilities' hidden in this present, pregnant moment." (We Make the Road By Walking, Brian McLaren p. 69)

The seemingly impossible is possible...hmm.  While pondering this for teaching and worship this week I watched Kathryn Schulz's video, "On Being Wrong,"  a TED talk, about a basic human aversion to being and feeling wrong, and how it limits us. (Well worth the 18 minutes to watch.)  This same human predisposition also makes it hard to willingly believe God can make the impossible possible.  Schulz unwraps why we feel "right" even when we're wrong.  She prompted me to ponder if I might be wrong in my assessment of the "impossible," anything labeled impossible, especially when it comes to God.   

Schultz presents a choice to either, be misled by our feelings of rightness, or to embrace a different perspective beyond the "...tiny, terrified space of rightness and look around at each other and look out at the vastness and complexity and mystery of the universe and be able to say, 'Wow, I don't know.  Maybe I'm wrong.'"  Could I be wrong and the impossible really is possible because of something I can't see or feel at the moment?  Trusting something bigger than a feeling seems to me a fair description of what Mary & Elizabeth did.  It might be a reasonable way to describe faith.

Let's look at the story about these two women in Luke's Gospel.  Elizabeth, unable to have a child, learns a baby is on the way.  Mary, young and unmarried, is invited to participate in the life-threatening impossible, and she says, "Yes!"  (Luke 1:5-48) to this possibility.  Both circumstances and participants illustrate paths of feminine leadership, the kind that is a conundrum to the religious establishment (then and sometime now).  Both exhibit allegiance to God, "...who doesn't rule with the masculine power of swords and spears, but with a mother's sense of justice and compassion." (We Make the Road, p.69)

What if you and I regularly entertained the realities of our limited rightness, along with Schulz, and considered the possibilities of God's mothering justice and compassion that births such a love impregnated impossible?  What would change?  What would unfold?  Mary's son "...Jesus ...consistently model(ed) her self-surrender and receptivity to God." (We Make the Roadp.70)  Christmas is undoubtedly a time of wonder, imagination and faith.  I certainly think so.  But, maybe I could be wrong.

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