I am trying to run away from everything lately. Last year, I was walking on water, but now I am sinking. While I have been sinking, all of you have been holding out your hands to pull me back up. I never have experienced community like I have at Wilshire.
I hear the Peter story differently now. A friend mentioned we are hard on Peter for sinking when he tried to follow Jesus on the water, but we forget he at least got out of the boat. It was scary. Jesus was there when it became too much. Taking risks knowing someone will be there when you fall is life everlasting.
The Houston Chronicle reportson sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention are causing me to relive some of my past trauma, but I am also living in hope we are going to cast it out. This problem is so large and heartbreaking and went covered up for so long by both the SBC and the Catholic church. This is real. What happened to me is real. The system made this a breeding ground for abuse.
The SBC and Catholic church are large and easy to spotlight, but this is happening in so many churches not affiliated that we must address it. My biggest concern is I am not hearing leaders of these organizations repent of their theology and grieve. I am hearing men explain what went wrong and what they will do better next time. Conservative theology in this way is blinding their sight to how this is playing out in public life.
They call the #MeToo movement secular but fail to connect it to #ChurchToo. These are related. Theology plays out in public life.
There is no separation of spiritual and secular. When the dominant faith organization in society is patriarchal and abusive, so is the society. The church is supposed to be counter-cultural by being the conscience of society, not the one grabbing for power and authority. The only authority we should live by is love. If love feels like hate to someone, then it isn’t love. Throw it away.
One faith leader said we needed less gloating and more grieving. Since when is faith a competition that we would gloat at someone’s demise? Who is gloating over massive abuse in a faith organization?
I think to start changing the narrative for women in church is to start telling the stories where Jesus was liberating them. This past Sunday, I got through my panic and led the class discussion on Mark’s Resurrection story. So much stood out to me, but the moment that makes me cry is when the woman (unnamed in Mark’s Gospel) is so moved by Jesus that she pours expensive perfume on his feet and wipes his feet with her hair. Her heart was overflowing with gratitude, and she gave everything she had to say, “Thank you.” The men wanted her scolded for wasting what could have been given to the poor. But Jesus responds by saying: “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
The woman anointed Jesus. Jesus lifted her up. Her faith believed in abundance. She gave everything for Jesus, and now her story is told forever. Jesus was there for this woman. He also was there for Peter.
Do we believe Jesus enough to give him everything — in gratitude and when we are scared?