Monday, May 11, 2009
Daughters of Kings....
Sunday I preached a non Saccharine Sunday message on Luke 10:38-42. In that passage we explored the radical act of both Mary and Jesus. Mary broke with the cultural defined and allowed norms for women by taking a seat among the men, at the feet of Jesus, to listen. He allowed her to do so, taught her and even reprimanded Martha for trying to draw Mary back into the role Martha felt was more appropriate to the situation....ie. back in the kitchen.
Jesus was radical in a culture where some Rabbis prayed:
Praised be Thou O Lord, who did not make me a gentile
Praised be Thou O Lord who did not make me a boor
Praised be Thou of Lord who did not make me a woman
And some taught, like Rabbi Eliezer wrote in the 1st century CE: "Rather should the words of the Torah be burned than entrusted to a woman...Whoever teaches his daughter the Torah is like one who teaches her obscenity."
Or Greek men would express gratitude by gushing: “I was born a human being and not a beast, next, a man and not a woman, thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian.”
Where leading Jewish historian's like Josephus, a contemporary of Jesus, and the apostle Paul said:“The Woman, says the law, is in all things inferior to the man.”
Where church fathers like Augustine taught that a woman can become the image of God by marriage and fulfilling their designed to be procreative partners.
In light of that, you can see just how revolutionary Jesus was in His ministry and methods. How liberating His words and actions were in Jewish culture. From talking to foreign women, to allowing bleeding unclean women or prostitutes to touch Him (kiss his feet, wipe their hair on his feet). His calling a healed woman a "daughter of Abraham" which was a unique title, including women in His band of disciples(Luke 8:1-3), being funded by single, business women with a history of demonic possession(Mark 16:9 )as well as others who funded his itinerant ministry. Choosing a woman to be the first preacher of His resurrection(John 20:17-18) which in that culture where women's testimonies were not legal in court...that was a major dignifying act!
I also used a passage in the book "The Two Towers" that retells the same issues in a different setting and way. The book expounds upon the feelings of Young Eowyn of Rohan and her struggle to become the warrior within her that was hidden by the princess she was outwardly. Her deep inner turmoil of duties and roles in the face of the times in which she lived and the needs of the hour. The book explores the fiery and sharp insight she had about the limiting roles our cultures place upon us and how often those most dear to us are most blind to who we really are in the heart. The book "The Return of the King" digs into the wound she bore in her soul in the chapter "The Houses of Healing" and the words of Gandalf and Aragorn are illuminating as any to the power of any man who can see a woman for who she truly longs to be seen. There is healing in those passages for those who have ears to hear.
I know some were upset and misunderstood the use of the film clip I used here and granted it was a bit intense for a typical Sunday morning church experience, in the future I will be more sensitive to children that sometimes are present. But I showed it because I truly felt led to include it in the discussion. The film captures the ethos of some of Eowyn's drama that is better for some people to captured visually. The look in her eyes when Aragorn, a man who also was wrestling with being a warrior on the outside and a king on the inside...saw her for who she truly was... " A Daughter of Kings"; was powerful. The high drama of her battle with the witch king and her fulfillment of the ancient prophesy that "No Man" could kill him...was potent and biblical from a certain angle (genesis 3).
I was able to use the book and the film in the evening service and I think a better weaving took place because of it. I hope the message was liberating and will burn through the surrounding controversy it may have evoked...because in the end...it was for freedom that Christ set us free and don't let anyone or anything subject you to the yoke of slavery again...(Galatians 5:1)