As I’ve mentioned here before, one of the richest memories of my life is how I used to get up at 5:30 in the morning with my dad. It was our time. We’d eat GrapeNuts and tell each other about the miracle(s) we’d seen the day before. I still try to like GrapeNuts and I still try to look for miracles every day.
Finding the miracles has been harder for me lately. I might notice (my word for 2015) lovely people, places, or things, but I’ve allowed circumstances, over which I feel powerless, to cloud my ability to recognize them as miracles. That’s gotta change.
Here’s how I’m going to change it. Yes/And. I completely accept the reality that YES there are many things going on the world, over which I have no control. AND while I continue to attend to what I can, I’m going to focus on the light, the good, the possible,along with the people doing the light, good, and possible.
YES, the divisions, gloom, fear, and darkness will still be around. My focus, however, will not be as glued to it, as it has been lately. I’m going to focus on the power of miracles. When I find myself tempted to dwell in the negative longer than is necessary, I’m going to seek out AND people, places, and things. AND people, places and things are the miracles Daddy and I used to share with each other daily. I’ll share some of them with you, here.
A couple of weekends ago, I had the honor of retreating with a group of very wise women. We prayed and pondered with the stories and words of several Advent Women – women who not only saw, but were light in very dark times.
Yes, much of the Christian world is pretty wrapped-up in wrapping gifts for Christmas AND it’s still sacred season of Advent. Deep and humble thanks to all of you Women of Advent for helping me remember this. Special thanks to my dear friend, Jan Christophersen, for (among many other things) sharing her gift of poetry.
In the first chapter of Matthew five women are named as ancestors of Jesus, four in the Old Testament and Jesus’ mother.
Matthew 1:1 says: “An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
Matthew 1:16 says, “and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born…”
The footnote in The New Oxford Annotated Bible describes these four Old Testament women this way. “Each acted independently, in some cases scandalously, at critical junctures in Israel’s history to ensure the continuation of the Davidic line.”
These strong women lived and survived by deep faith in God, wit and guile, persistence, patience, and sometimes even deceit and lies; despite the cultural norm that they were man’s property and defenseless if not living with a father, husband, or son. Nevertheless, their voices are heard and honored.
Jesus must have grown up knowing their stories. Like these women breaking out of the cultural norms of their times, Jesus broke cultural rules in his interactions with women, giving them stature, honor and value.
I give you their stories in poetry this Advent, 2017.
Tamar was married to Judah’s son
who died. By law the next son took her for his wife
and also died. Judah blamed Tamar for both
and exiled her to a desperate life.
Without a father, son, or man she had to scheme to live.
Disguised as a harlot, she got Judah in her bed.
Unlike his sons, Judah gets her pregnant.
Thinking she’s disgraced his name, Judah wants her dead.
But she has planned this well, and kept his seal and staff
that were payment for a night with her
and proves the baby is his own.
This saves her life. She’s finally seen and heard.
Sometimes deception isn’t wrong when it’s used to save a life.
Now Judah called her “righteous” and took her for his wife.
Not one but two were born when Tamar gave birth to twins.
Now she’s in Joseph’s line, when Jesus’ life begins.
Jericho’s walls seemed safe from harm.
Then Joshua sent two spies inside.
Rahab owned a brothel/inn
where these men spent the night.
The King’s guards searched to kill these men,
but Rahab saved their lives.
She made them promise life for her
if came the battle cry.
The walls indeed came tumbling down,
and Rahab’s life was saved.
God did not condemn her past
but honored her for wit and faith.
With famine, death, and widowhood
Naomi is alarmed.
Three widows without children
are vulnerable to harm.
So Naomi starts the journey
to return to Bethlehem.
Her sons’ wives were from Moab,
but Ruth won’t leave her friend.
Ruth gathers grain to feed them
by chance on Boaz’ land.
He pledges his protection
and lends a helping hand.
They discover he’s a kinsman.
By being on their side
he’ll restore their name and fortune
if he takes Ruth to be his bride.
Ruth risks her reputation
and sneaks up to his bed
to lie beside his feet all night
as a sign that she will wed.
Then from their joyful union
A baby boy is born.
Boaz’ mom was Rahab.
Like her, Ruth is transformed.
Ruth 1:1 – 4:18
Bathsheba bathed on an open roof,
where perhaps she felt a breeze.
From another roof nearby
King David covets what he sees.
David takes her, and she conceives.
Then he has her husband killed.
Now he can claim her for his own.
She never says if she is thrilled
to be a Queen, King David’s wife.
In fact she’s hardly ever heard
except to say, “I am with child.”
But that’s her power — The Holy Word!
2 Samuel 11
God gave Mary a mind and heart
to make a choice
whether to take part
in God’s plan of salvation
for this ailing world,
by the new creation
of a virgin birth.
She could have said no,
for what that’s worth.
Once more comes the mystery
of God choosing women
to completely change history.
With these five women
the fertile union of God’s plan
and women’s initiative
converge for all humanity.