The Tale of Jael

It always strikes me as strange when people interpret the Bible to say that women shouldn’t hold positions of authority (except possibly over children and other women). Have they not heard about Deborah?

Ethiopia (2357037964)

Not me – the much much earlier Deborah. She lived in a very low-government era, when the people of Israel were governed by a) the Law of Moses (which was short and straightforward enough that ordinary people could actually know the whole thing) and b) a judge.

This simple system had the frequent addition of an oppressive foreign overlord who made the conquered people pay tribute and generally ground them beneath his heel. Because there’s nothing like getting ground under the heel of the oppressor to make you realize (and regret) you’ve been oppressing others yourself: failing to protect the rights of widows and orphans, taking advantage of the poor, or failing to give the land its statutory holidays. (Yes, the actual land.)

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The God of Consent

‘Tis the season for Christmas posts, is it not? But instead of looking again at the manger scene, the ruthless dictator, or, God help us, a fat man in red, I’d like us to cast our minds back nine months – not back to March 2018, but back to nine months before The Original Christmas.

An angel appears to a young woman in the back-blocks and showers her with blessings, compliments, and a rather daunting proposition: mother to God in human form?

Photo by KayR Studios from Pexels
And who is she? She is, not to put too fine a point on it, nobody in particular. She has no position, no title, no fame; her fiancée’s just the local builder. She’s got a cousin who’s married to a priest, but that’s about as influential as the family gets.Continue & Comment

What Child Is This?

A baby is born into poverty, in a land under harsh military occupation. A baby who becomes a refugee before he can even walk, as his young parents flee the bloody crackdown of a dictator intent on crushing any dissent to his rule.

Horn of AfricaA dissident whose life is in constant threat when he returns to the land of his birth, both from the controlling powers and those who don’t wish to antagonize them. A controversial figure initially welcomed by a society which then turns and scapegoats him as soon as the prevailing mood changes.

Any of this sound familiar? Refugees, dictatorships, military actions against civilians – it’s all so very 21st century, isn’t it? But it’s also 1st century, because this is the life of Jesus Christ.

God is not, as some have thought him, far-off, uncaring, and content to leave us to suffer through life as best we may. (Though I am tempted to think that some of us have created God in our own image, to think him so.) The meaning of Christmas is God with us – with us in the pain, the poverty, the danger, all of it. God with us.

My best hope, wish and prayer for you is that God will be with you this year – in all of it.