|Ann Harrington ARCWP|
Our prayers and readings today are heavy on female imagery for the Divine. I hope it causes you to reflect on how dominant male imagery has been in our tradition. Maybe that suits you, maybe you are more comfortable with that. But as your priest it is my job to invite you to different prayer experiences that challenge you to broaden your understanding of the nature of God. Our God image determines how we move and live and have our being in the world.
Our culture highly values strength, winning, independence. These are traditional masculine traits but women are learning these can be helpful in their lives too. Historically the traits of hospitality, nurturance and connection have been proscribed to women though more and more men are finding the need to develop them too.
We are in a time of great transition. A time when society, people and the very planet are longing and crying out for more balance. Here we are Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community, doing our part to make the church more balanced, more whole, truer to what Jesus taught. Our Catholic tradition has always taught us to look to the lives of the Saints for guidance. Of course I never paid much attention to Mary Magdalene as she was a prostitute right? She might have even enjoyed sex. Or perhaps those 7 demons Jesus healed her of had to do with depression and oppression. Try to imagine what it was like to live in her time. We know Rome was occupying her country, women are always at higher risk when the military is around, rape is still used as a way to subdue and conquer a population.
Well an amazing thing happens when one reads the Scriptures carefully. No where does it say Mary was a prostitute or sexually promiscuous. The idea that she was a prostitute was formulated by Pope Gregory, 14 centuries ago as he confused her with the story of the woman found in adultery and somehow decided she must also be a prostitute. Perhaps we can give the Pope a pass on scripture scholarship but it does seem awfully odd that making Mary a prostitute also coincided with denying women equality in the church.
Let's take a look at what Luke says about Mart of Magdala
“With Jesus went the twelve, as well as some women he had healed of evil spirits and sickness; Mary of Magdala, from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons; Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza;(KOO-zah) Suzanna; and many other women who were contributing to the support of Jesus and the Twelve with their own funds.”
These must have been some affluent women.
Other things we know about Mary of Magdala is that she was so dedicated to Jesus she stayed with him throughout his crucifixion. In John's version, her love for Jesus pushed her to go to the tomb alone . I wonder would I have that much courage. And while her plans were to minister to the dead body of her beloved, her beloved appeared to her in what she thought was the gardener. How often has God come to us disguised? When have we experienced the thrill of God calling our name?
From Pastor Dawn:
Where can we find what Mary found; Mary who when she found this new thing, was able to go on to found a community of followers of Christ who endured despite the odds against them.
From the Gospel of Mary
“Do not weep and be distressed nor let your hearts be troubled. For Christ’s grace will be with you all and will shelter you. Rather we should praise Christ’s greatness, for Christ has joined us together and made us true human beings.
Do you hear what I hear. It's not in the sky, it's right here. We are doing what Mary did. Together we are finding a new expression of church, one more fully following Jesus.. I pray we too endure despite the odds against us. I ask you to pray for the flourishing of this community as well. Our world so needs this, we need this, our children and grandchildren need this.
Question for reflection: Where have you found the Face of God and what does it push you in any way?
Opening: We Are Called #628 https://youtu.be/jgomtIc1_yc?list=PL2UaeMphocOm2AnOA2cYjbqj17NUopdQw
Psalm: The Face of God by Karen Drucker
Offertory: Let Justice Flow Like a River https://youtu.be/ZYfgLxCPE5g
Communion: Beauty of the Dancer https://youtu.be/IQppB_Cshcg
Psalm You are the Face if God by Karen Drucker https://youtu.be/yUXPIeFHUjU
Romans 16: 1-7, 16
John 20: 1-2, 11-18
"Where do you see the face of God and what does that do to you?"
It is in Ann that I see the face of God. Like every genuine experience of the presence of God, it is challenging, transforming, humbling, and sometimes scary. Mark Harrington, Ann's husband