We do not break generations apart. That is what we learn in scripture. We carry the best of every generation with us. That is the difference between tradition and traditionalism. There was a liturgist at St John’s in Minnesota, Godfrey Dateman said one day “I don’t have a lot to teach you. But I will teach you the difference between tradition and traditionalism. Traditionalism is the stuff we pass on. Tradition is the passing on of the stuff”. It is easy to stop a society from developing. Of sinking its feet in wet cement. These are the people who say “we have always done it this way. What are they doing? They are ruining everything. It has never been like this”. That is traditionalism.
Tradition is where you can look them in the eyes and say “for thousands of years women have been oppressed, suppressed, ignored, demeaned and dismissed. We know that that is not the will of God. It is the will of God that we bring forth into this culture. That has been your life and that is the life I am passing onto you.
Scripture reminds us that we are equipped with what is needed through radical love and solidarity. Megan Waterson posted Galatians 5:13 “Brothers and Sisters you are called to be free”. This message still rings true today.
I do not have one piece of scripture. Jesus says to you as He said to Jairus' daughter, “Get up. Rise”. That call as a woman to recognise I have not been left in the mud of the road. That this was a particular act of resurrection in my life.
The second piece of scripture is the Martha and Mary story. Martha comes in from the kitchen. Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus. They are having a conversation which in that culture means it is dangerous. It is unacceptable to most of the rest of the temple. People are thinking there is something wrong with you and me at the same time. Martha comes out and she is not happy. Martha is reminding him of his scripture. “What is she doing listening to you? Woman don’t work in the schools. Women don’t do the scriptures.She should be with me in the kitchen”. The answer that comes back…”ow Martha. Mary has chosen the best part and she is more than capable of it. And I am teaching her and she is prodding me on. She is calling more and more women to be free”.
As a little girl in grade school, when sister held up a poster and said “how Mary got us all in trouble”. I don’t believe it then and I don’t believe it now. It has never changed. I am not alone now as I was in first grade.
There is a leaven rising in all of us. The heart breaking thing is that so many women have left the churches because that is their only spiritual hope left. When religion goes wrong, spirituality always emerges in its strongest point. What does it bring with it? The best of its scriptures and the refusal to be caught in the oppression of their past interpretations.
We live in a very dynamic time. I will carry this picture for a long time. Every generation that wants the spiritual and the religious to be at peace have got to stand up and move on. Keep talking. Keep saying the truth of the spirit of God that has put in their hearts.
There is an intergenerational leadership. People have seen the troubles. But they have seen the joy that comes in the morning.
My mum said to me “they crucified Christ”, “they crucified Christ”.
Joan of Arc said “lift the cross higher as she was burning at the stake to see it further”.
What can help guide us at this moment?
My book “the time is now”. I have been driven. I have recognised too much of a religious bent knotted off of our tradition. Every Christian and everyone trained and raised in the church have been taught to follow Jesus. But they were taught to follow Jesus the healer. Jesus the one who bounced babies on his knees and took walks in the woods. Who went to sleep in the mountains and got in the boats and talked to the people and it is all very lovely. Of followers of Jesus the healer it makes us so righteous. I do those things. I visit my grandmother every week. I take the kids to church. I sit down and read the scriptures. I make soup and give it to the people on the street. I do all these healing things.
The problem with that is we have a picture of “Jesus the Healer”, but, that is only half of the Christians spiritual life. If you turn your hands over you see the other side. That is Jesus the prophet. Jesus who said “you are selling in the temple” and “you lay the burden on the backs of people and then you skim the money off the top” and “I want these birds and this money out of the temple” and “I am going to throw it out because you won’t take it out”.
Jesus confronts this system. Where did he get this? This is prophetic spirituality. Every time the prophet spoke, they said “you are not doing the will of God”. When God called those prophets, the prophet said “I cannot go” and “I am busy”. Moses said even “I don’t even speak. Send Aaron he has got a good tongue. Send him I am not the one”.
In every case God choses the weaker and then says “listen to this. I am sending you”.
My answer “I cannot do this. I am a sheep herder. I cannot do anymore”.
God comes back and says “I am sending you to warn you. Everything that was ever real is gone. I want you to listen carefully to my word and then warn them. Warn them. That is your role”.
From that comes the rest of your life. It is not that we are seeking either martyrdom or security. When you hear the word of God. For women. For the black community. For the immigrant community. Are you saying it where it must be said?