Thought for the day:
In Matthew 21, Jesus rides a mother donkey, her baby beside her, into Jerusalem in blatant condemnation and contrast to the militaristic entry of Roman military leaders and soldiers on war horses through a different gate. The point of Palm Sunday was activism: a political protest against war and the domination systems of oppression. The symbol Jesus chose for his protest was a mother and child. When the people shouted “Hosannah,” which means “save us,” they were asking to be liberated from the terrible economic and political oppression of imperial injustice. Jesus’ message of egalitarian Common Good and a kin-dom of JustPeace brought people hope and inspiration for a better future of mutual thriving and wellness.
Divine Source, You who Conceive and Birth and Nourish all Creation, open our hearts to the Way of Salvation that will bring liberation and mutual thriving to our Earth today. To honor Christ with Palm branches, may we protect Palm forest habitats for the orangutans who cry “Hosanna! Save us!” To honor the mother donkey and her baby, may we advocate for mothers everywhere, who are the most impoverished people in our society. May we always remember that You are Mother of All, ever ready to embrace us, cradle us, tend our wounds, nourish our spirits, and remind us that we, ourselves, are the Way of Salvation, growing over and over from your Dark Soil to your Light and back, nourished and nourishing, healed and healing, always giving away the Love we receive, and becoming our true, Divine selves through the power of healing Love.
Thought for the day:
Jesus condemned some of the religious leaders of his day—the ones who colluded with empire to exploit and oppress people. Just as prophets in his Jewish tradition did before and after him, he called out their choice to turn away from the ethical principles of their faith tradition for the sake of greed and self-promotion. Christian prophets since Jesus have done the same thing, as have all prophets throughout all traditions— whenever any community lasts long enough, a leader will come along and try to exploit the community for personal gain. Every justice movement— religious or secular— encounters this problem and needs its prophets to help remind everyone of the Truths of mutual wellness. Those Truths are eternal, and they are stronger than any justice movement, religious or secular. Those Truths will always need prophets, in every community. And those Truths need people willing to receive them, even (especially?) when they are hard to accept.
Holy Womb, who birthed us all from nonbeing into Being, who knows better than anyone that birth is labor, and is very, very hard: help us to accept our need for continual rebirth. Help us to leave behind the toxic lies that our toxic culture has given us, such as that we look “better” with makeup, or that we “should try to lose a few pounds,” or that we owe our sexual partners compliance even when we are really too tired. Hold us, Womb, as we grapple with your Truths. Help us find our rebirth into Freedom, as scary as Freedom can sometimes be, embracing our own divinity so that we can embrace the divinity of All. Finding our Divine Beauty so that we can spread Divine Beauty all around us, to all the individuals, systems, structures, and cultures who need your Eternal Truths.
Thought for the day:
Jesus got angry when he encountered blatant exploitation and oppression. He also wept when he experienced grief. He responded tenderly to downtrodden individuals. He healed his enemies. There is no “one size fits all” Christian response to all situations, other than to seek mutual healing, thriving, and liberation. Anger is often forbidden to females in our culture, especially to black women— which means it is important for females to give ourselves permission to feel anger, even rage. How could we not feel rage in the face of the pandemic, the holocaust of violence against female bodies around the world? But anger is also the most satisfying human emotion because it reassures us that we are “right,” and “good” — soothing a core need we want to believe about ourselves. We need to weep, too, and sometimes we just need to treat ourselves and each other tenderly because we are all feeling very raw and exhausted. “Calling out” was only one of Jesus’ multiple methods for bringing liberation, because as any teacher knows, what helps one student or class learn doesn’t work for every student or class. Let our methods be guided by our goals and our motivations — rage, grief, tenderness, an outstretched hand — different seeds that will flourish in different soils.
As the Womb stretches to 500 times its usual size during pregnancy, as the Vagina stretches to 3x its usual size during birth, teach us, O Source, to stretch as well, in your Sacred image of Christ, the Cosmic Vagina, so that we may be Birth Canals of Healing, Holy Wells of Living Water that brings new Hope to the deserts of the forsaken in our hurting World.
In washing his disciples’ feet (and remember, some of his disciples were female), Jesus modeled that those who want to lead the way to Life must give up their egos and their desires to be above others — any others. Yet still today, female labor is not equally valued under capitalist patriarchy, and females do mountains of invisible, crushing labor in their homes and communities: emotional labor on behalf of everyone, household management, and all the work of bearing the traumatic brunt of the pandemic of male violence against females and against other males. Some women respond to their own oppression and exhaustion by oppressing their children— either physically, or through verbal shaming or silencing children’s needs and feelings. We all have the underlying need to feel respected. When we do not feel respected, or when our culture tells us we must prove our worth, sometimes we try to reassure ourselves by putting others below us. Whenever someone disrespects another, remember that behavior comes from fear, and fear alone. We are all Sacred Beings, of infinite divine worth, and though we all sometimes make flawed choices and exhibit flawed motivations, what we need is healing, guidance, and help to make better choices next time. Can we believe that about ourselves? About our children? About our enemies? Can we lift ourselves not by scrabbling on the slippery sands of fear, but rather by resting in the Healing Arms of Love?
Wash us clean and fresh and new, Birth Waters, wash us healed of our fears and free to trust in our own precious worth, wash us free to embrace and lift others, wash us free to join hands in mutual rising until all are equally honored and respected in our communities of kindred thriving.
To Be Continued…
Trelawney Grenfell-Muir teaches courses about Sex, Dating, Marriage, and Work in the Religion and Theological Studies Department at Merrimack College and about Cross Cultural Conflict in the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A Senior Discussant at the Religion and the Practices of Peace Initiative at Harvard University, she holds an M.Div. from the Boston University School of Theology with a concentration in Religion and Conflict, and a Ph.D. in Conflict Studies and Religion with the University Professors Program at Boston University. She currently writes articles, book chapters, and liturgical resources about feminist, nature-based Christianity.
For my more in-depth exploration of make-up, please see https://feminismandreligion.com/2019/06/07/44471/
For extremely important information about weight, fat shaming, and health, see https://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/everything-you-know-about-obesity-is-wrong/?utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=hp_fb_pages&ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063&utm_source=main_fb&fbclid=IwAR1jYumHOnrHqlwuVpTZamnNlkbYCdkDwCe0G4kBMOxAWw8DgdR98CMgOQg
For an excellent book about the events of Holy Week in Scripture, and how Jesus led a liberationist political movement, see https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-last-week-marcus-j-borgjohn-dominic-crossan?variant=32205677133858
For an excellent book about how Paul was a feminist liberationist, see https://www.harpercollins.com/products/the-first-paul-marcus-j-borgjohn-dominic-crossan?variant=32122694959138
For more on my theology of Christ as Cosmic Vagina see https://feminismandreligion.com/2019/05/03/vaginas-matter-by-trelawney-grenfell-muir/ and https://www.fsrinc.org/book/women-religion-revolution/