See here to read Part I of the Devotional.
Thought for the day:
The Roman authorities executed Jesus for sedition because he posed a threat to their hegemony: their wealth and their oppressive, imperial domination system of exploiting others for profit. Jesus spoke out against their injustice, and his message resonated with the 99%. People were beginning to listen; momentum was growing. So the Empire snuffed out that “Rebel Scum” in their most excruciating, punishing, degrading form of execution. According to the logic of imperial domination, Jesus’ death should have been a humiliating, final defeat.
Instead, his movement lived on and on, grew and grew. The symbol of Imperial execution — the cross — should have symbolized the wrongness, the lack of Divine sanction, the complete Divine rejection of Jesus’ ideas, according to Empire. Instead, the Jesus Movement reclaimed the cross from an Imperial symbol of shame and turned it into a symbol of victory. Paul, the feminist liberationist prophet most responsible for the survival and spread of the Jesus Movement, repeatedly wrote that the Jesus Movement follows Christ Crucified. Paul’s message seemed scandalous and confusing— lifting up a symbol of horror, death, and defeat as proof of victory? Why? How?
Because Empire is evil, that’s why. Domination systems are forces of evil in our world; they are systemic powers of violence, oppression, exploitation, and death. And how do you know that the Divine Source of Love-Life-Good is on your side? You know it most strongly when Evil tries to silence you. Domination systems try to forbid critique: they call environmental activists terrorists, make it illegal to film inside factory farms, make it a felony to participate in anti-government protests, physically assault and injure those who try to protect Indigenous Water rights, threaten to kill, punch, or beat feminists with studded baseball bats, label anti-fascism as an enemy of the state.
Domination systems are sneaky, too. Just as they try to shame rebels with violence and criminalization, they also try to shame rebels with cultural pressure. Thus, people who challenge the horrifying brutality of porn, prostitution, and the normalization of misogynist sexual violence are denounced as “sex-negative” or “kink-shaming.” Lesbians who try to live true to their sexual orientation are called “transphobes.” In a world where the single most dangerous thing that can happen to a human is to be female (I won’t even say “to be born female” because selective abortion murders millions of the female unborn), I have been called a TERF just for advocating against Female Genital Mutilation.
***Trigger Warning – Descriptions of distressing violence against women and children.***
Today, on Good Friday, Christ is the mutilated vagina of a young girl in Mali, and Christ is the raped vagina of a trafficked Romanian girl in the mega-brothels of Germany, and Christ is the traumatized vagina of a young woman lured into prostitution because of poverty in New Zealand, and Christ is the murdered vagina of a Korean woman in an Atlanta “massage parlor.” Christ is the underdeveloped vagina of a fetus selectively aborted in China, and Christ is the tiny infant vagina of a female infanticide victim in India. Christ is the vaginas of the countless young women seeking therapy because they think there is something wrong with them… their male partners want to choke them and penetrate them anally, to slap them, to call them degrading names, to cause them pain in their most tender, vulnerable places, and they think they are failing their partners because they do not “enjoy sex.” Christ is all the females who are killed, brutalized, and traumatized simply because they have a vagina.
***End Trigger Warning***
Christ, a vagina? How scandalous. How shocking. How dare you call Christ a vagina?
I DARE, SISTERS. I dare. I will keep daring, louder and louder, and I will not be silenced. Will you dare with me? Let Patriarchal Domination Systems just try to snuff us out. This Good Friday, I follow Christ Crucified: the lips of Her Sacred, Wounded Vulva are speaking Truths that Evil does not want spoken. Oh, sometimes I tremble, tremble, tremble. By foes derided, by thine own rejected! Were you there when they crucified my Love?
Divine Love, Love who suffers with us, who knows our pain and anguish, Love who counts our every tear, who walks with us in every single moment of our grief and shame weighed down, you who holds us, weeps with us, and never, ever abandons us… Cleft for us. May we hide ourselves in Thee. Shelter us, heal us, strengthen us. We need thee every hour. O Wondrous Love, may our souls feel you in the clasped hands and joined voices of compassion everywhere, see you in the kind eyes and spring flowers, hear you in the songs of liberation and the waves on the shore, smell you in the fresh green Earth and the embrace of a beloved friend, taste you in the bread of Life and cup of Salvation, broken and poured out that all Creation may be Free and Healed and One in Love Everlasting.
There are times when all seems lost. All seems over. The weight of a stone heavy upon us. The coldness, the isolation, the darkness of despair.
We are never alone.
No matter what.
We are never forsaken.
We are held, so gently and tenderly, with such reverent adoration, such embracing compassion, such complete and total cherishing devotion, it is beyond our imagining.
No matter how heavy the burden, we are held in Love.
No matter how lost, how cold, how dark, how alone we feel, we are held in Love.
There is nothing we could ever do to lose that Love, or even diminish it one drop.
Love is the Source, Form, and Breath of All.
Rest in Love.
Feel Her cradle you.
Thought for the day:
Have you noticed that ruins all over the Middle East are covered with carvings of eggs? I loved seeing them in lots of ruins in Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey. I loved cupping my hand over the life-sized eggs carved along doorways of ancient holy sites. They fit into my hand so nicely, and I could feel the reverence for Life in the ancient stone shape. Many cultures throughout the world have used eggs as a symbol of life, in diverse ways.
The oral storytelling traditions of early Christianity also honor eggs. In one ancient story, when Mary Magdalene went to the tomb of Jesus early on the third day to anoint his body, she had a basket of eggs with her. The eggs turned bright colors when Mary reached the empty tomb. In another story, Mary Magdalene went to the Emperor Tiberius, held out an egg to him and proclaimed “Christ is risen!” He mocked her, saying Christ was no more risen than the egg in her hand was red. Immediately, the egg she held turned bright red.
Mary Magdalene is the disciple of Jesus who told the other disciples of Christ’s resurrection. She preached the very first Easter sermon, to the other women and men who were Jesus’ disciples. I believe Mary was the first disciple to understand that Jesus’ death did not mean the death of Christ. The execution of the man Jesus, their beloved friend and teacher, did not mean the death of the Truths to which he bore witness. Perhaps her experience as a female gave her the insight to understand that the Truths Jesus taught still lived on in the community, in a new body, just as eggs symbolize Eternal Life. Eternal Divine Life cycles and flows on and on from our human and nonhuman ancestors, through us, to our descendants – all the plants, animals, and offspring we become. We are all One. All Life, joined by one Eternal Source. Every one of your ancestors lives in you, the Love in them an unbreakable, boundless, pulsing force of Becoming. Infinite Divine Energy thrums through your every cell. You are starlight, the ocean tide, the soaring eagle, the towering tree, the humming hive of honeybees. You are the Egg: Perfect and Beautiful.
Hold yourself. Cup yourself in your hand. You are Christ, Alive and Divine. You are Eternity. You are Life. You are Holy. Rise and Shine, Dayspring of Love!
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 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/
Categories: General, holiday, Lent, Ritual, Women’s Power, Women’s Voices