Thea, your son, on the night before he died, sealed a new covenant in bread and wine, his body and blood. Teach us to remember his covenant with you in the breaking of bread and the sharing of wine. Amen.
Does God take sides? Does God cheer for Israel's victories, or cheer for Israel's losses? Does God pump his fist when Palestine succeeds, or weep when Palestine stumbles? Is God on the sidelines of Gaza, rooting for his team to win? If God were mere man perhaps the Gaza Strip would be one great football field and God's whole life would rise and fall according to the victory of his team. The Christians say God became flesh and dwelt among us They say God became mere man. They also say the God-Man's great victory was accepting death on a cross that others might live. But if Israel and Palestine's men keep taking one another's lives in God's name who will be left to bear his cross? Perhaps the Second Coming that the Christians await with bated breath (as smart phones offer updates about their team) will be another Incarnation, a child born in the midst of blood and turmoil and rage. Maybe the Second Coming will be a child born of love spilling over between a child of Israel and a child of Palestine Maybe, instead of a cross there will be a stand silent and gentle and unwavering Palestinian hand in Israeli hand the fruit of their living bodies God's own child, swelling the mother's belly: an invitation to end life no more.
What will it take for the beloved children of God to perceive that the people they murder are the beloved children of God to understand that the people they hate are their sisters and brothers and fathers and mothers and daughters and sons? What will it take for Jews and Muslims and Christians and other religious people and anti-religious people to quit taking sides to say "It is done"? Will it take a new Yeshua? A new martyr? A new cross? Will it take a wise mother among many wise mothers who learned long ago that only love can yield a victory? Will it take a woman among many women who has seen the futility of this fight all her life to rise up and teach the foolish men what they refuse to learn? God, how long before you touch the hearts of the children who think you take sides? How long before you assure them that they are equally, infinitely loved? How long before they cease their fire and offer open arms of sorrow, repentance, forgiveness? What do you mean to whisper that this assurance this peace this love this transformation of the hardest of hearts in Gaza begins with my own heart?
When Paul writes to the church at Thessalonica, he compares the ministry of himself and his fellow leaders to that of a mother.
But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. -Thessalonians 2:7b-8
This ministry is one of gentleness, of refreshment, of steady abiding-with that overflows with love. He regards the members of the Thessalonian church as very dear. Belonging now to a church in which the vocations of women to ordained ministry are recognized and fully accepted, I find fresh meaning in this. In this passage, Paul is unafraid of comparing himself and other leaders to devoted women. In recommending himself to the Thessalonian church, he embraces a maternal image. In mothering, goodness may be found. In mothering, loyalty may be found. In mothering, unfettered love may be found. In mothering, all the nourishment a young one needs may be found. To be a gracious, loving, effective, Godly minister, in this passage, is to be a mother. I am grateful to be part of a church that embraces the title of "Mother" for its female priestly ministers. When I consider the call I hear to priestly ministry, considering it in terms of mothering enriches it beyond what any book on priesthood might say. Mothering is something I get. Mothering implies total commitment, total love, and totally deep joy--even in the midst of difficulties and trials. I would give anything for my children, including my life. Isn't this what the high priest, Jesus the Christ, does?
I didn't expect to have this conversation with my toddler daughter this morning: Toddler: "Mommy, what's wrong?" Me: "Remember when Else and Anna's mommy and daddy died on the boat and Else and Anna were sad? My friend died. Mommy's sad." This was after I found out while perusing Facebook that a highschool friend died unexpectedly last night. She was married and a mom of two young boys. I am crushed, even though I haven't seen her face-to-face in years. I am devastated, and she's not even my family. My heart aches for her husband and sons. And that's all I can say that makes any bit of sense. I see Easter all around, but Good Friday has returned with a mighty, forceful blow, knocking the wind out of me and all the people I know who knew her.
I invite you to join me in remembering Stephanie and her family in your prayers.
Meanwhile, I'll sing something we sang together in our highschool Women's Chorus: The Lord bless you and keep you The Lord make his face to shine upon you and give you peace and be gracious to you The Lord be gracious unto you Amen