If I could give just one gift to one person – money no object, but anonymously – to whom would I give it? Well, daily prompt, let’s see…
No one is a better gift-giver than God, so I’d start there. He gave One Gift to all of us and to each individual one of us. Not really anonymously – His gift-giving was heralded by angels – but sort of anonymously in that some have been given the gift and don’t know it yet.
So on this eve of Christmas Eve, I would give the One Gift, too. I would give Jesus to the head pastor of my church-with-many-campuses, in hopes that He would trickle down. Here’s what I mean:
Sunday the hub, my daughter and I went to the urban campus for worship. The woman leading the opening number was rocking it. I mean ROCKING it! It was everything you would expect from rousing African-American worship and it was a sight and sound to behold.
Then the pastor spoke of his vision for our church/community center. He spoke of the woman caught in the act of adultery and how Jesus, kneeling in the sand, forgave her, told her to go and sin no more. He said he wants us to be a church that kneels in the sand and shows compassion. He wants us to be a place where the addict puts down his needle, puts down her phone…. He wants us to be a place where the gang banger can come in and say, “No one told me to pull my pants up. But I kind of feel like I should pull my pants up…”
Now ordinarily that kind of talk would have had my heart shouting, “YeeHaw!” and my skin all goose-bumpy. It would make me want me to stand up and cheer. But, alas, there was none of that. There was only the sound of a gong resounding in my ears.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1
I have no doubt that the good pastor wants to be that kind of church, that he wants the Spirit to move in that city and redeem the broken. Which is why I would give Him a trickle down of Jesus.
Yes and amen, Jesus loved and forgave the woman caught in the act of adultery. He displayed all kinds of love to women, bestowed upon them all kinds of dignity. I was so happy to hear His name mentioned, frankly, because it is a bit rare in our church. And that is the problem. The power that the pastor wants to unleash on that city comes in the name of Jesus, yet the church operates in the name of Paul.
Yes, we can be a church that kneels in the sand and forgives, but as long as we put that forgiven woman under the stranglehold of holy misogyny, we will lack any real power to make a difference.
Jesus loved women. He created them to reveal 50% of His image and to co-labor with the other 50% of His image. Restricting women – making them subservient to men (in a thinly veiled and “doctrinally correct” way) – just plays into the hands of the one who is trying to divide and conquer. Or at least divide and render weak.
I know I’ve said this before – many times – but it is a drum worth beating. Because until my pastor(s) put aside the traditions of men and embrace the whole story, we will continue to be nothing more than clanging symbols – making noise, garnering attention, and fading away…..
Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.
© The Reluctant Baptist, 2014