Sunday, December 9, 2012

Consensual Union

Yes is a powerful word. Especially when it's a response to God.

This Christmas season I've been contemplating the role that Mary played in the birth of Jesus. A Bible verse started my musings, but not a traditional Christmas verse. This verse goes all the way back to the beginning -- all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

The verse is Genesis 3:15 where God is cursing the serpent.

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel."

My mind fell on two words -- her seed.

This Scripture is obviously speaking about the future triumph of Christ over the power of Satan, the enemy. But here, Jesus is referred to as the "seed of the woman."

Fast forward to Mary, a young virgin, chosen to carry and give birth the Jesus. God could have done anything in this scenario, but when I look closely, I marvel at how God chose to usher in the birth of His son in partnership with Mary. He uses her seed -- her egg. I guess up to this time I just figured God implanted a pre-fertilized egg into Mary and -- tada! She was pregnant. But He used her seed.

That means Jesus probably looked like Mary. Her genetic makeup was combined with God's. I am in awe that God invites a mere mortal to play such an integral role in the birth of His Son.

So, maybe I've seen too many biology videos on the "miracle of birth", but I wonder in Mary's case, when did conception happen? When did she actually become pregnant?
In the videos we see the sperm that is trying to burrow through the protective lining of the egg. Finally, when a pregnancy occurs, there is an opening and the egg becomes fertilized, and life begins.

I don't think Mary's impregnation was that different. A yielding had to occur from within her. I think conception happened when Mary said "Yes" to God's plan.

"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

The incredible love of God! He could have forced His will upon Mary, but God doesn't rape. Life springs forth when a fully-yielded heart says yes to God.

I ponder the truth of this for my own life. Where are the places God's Spirit is wooing me? Where is He inviting me to partner with Him in something that ushers in His life and presence? This Christmas I am impacted by the power of the choice I make to God's invitation. I want to be like Mary and respond with a yielded heart. I say YES.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Like a Bridge

I was at my goodbye party at the seminary bookstore where I worked over 25 years ago. The staff were all taking turns during our morning coffee break to share their warm wishes for me.

"Julie, you've surpassed all my expectations," one of my co-workers said peering over his glasses.

I anticipated the complimentary words that were about to come.

"You are a Charismatic, a woman, a blonde . . . and yet, you are intelligent!"

Um. Thank you?

Seriously, I didn't know what to say. People were snickering in the break room at his comment, but I could tell he meant it. His words were sincere.

Somehow this man had acquired less-than-wonderful feelings for blonde, Charismatic women. Somehow I was able to challenge those notions and cause him to consider a different conclusion.

That's when I realized what it's like to be a bridge. Sometimes you may feel a bit walked on, but somehow in the awkward process you might help someone get to the other side of an issue.

I want to be a bridge. But I'm not sure I'm always a good one.

Bridges are often taken for granted. When is the last time you drove across a bridge spanning a body of water and then turned around to say, "Thank you!"?

Everyday I walk across bridges -- spiritually and culturally, that other people paid dearly to lay down. Every time I cast my vote as a woman, read my Bible in English,or worship freely in my church, I am standing firmly on ground that was once thought controversial. Brave people bridged the ground from there to here and today I walk across it without a thought.

Bridges often aren't popular. On October 31 in 1517  Martin Luther nailed 95 theses,questioning practices of the Catholic Church, to the Wittenberg Door. I'm sure this act took him off the pope's Christmas card list, but slowly, needed changes began to happen in the church which we benefit from today.

My experiences as a bridge haven't been as dramatic, yet I often find myself in that in-between place trying to close the gap between two seemingly different entities. My heart feels divided. When I'm in church, I long for it to reach the people who are disenfranchised with church. When I'm with the disenfranchised, I long for them to love the church.

One of my favourite kinds of bridges is a musical bridge. The tune of the bridge is notably different from the rest of the song, yet it provides an important transition that eventually rejoins the original melody, sometimes taking it to a higher key.

A particularly powerful musical bridge is in the song Hosanna, sung by Hillsong:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me
Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity
I want to be that kind of bridge. As I try to graciously extend myself in this life to those on either side of me, I want my words and actions to draw them closer to God, to one another and to bring healing -- even if they're surprised that it came from a blonde, Charismatic female:)