This story is told in the Christian Testament:
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me." And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, "Surely, not I, Lord?" (Matthew 26: 17-22)
Recently I had the honor of being a part of a professional religious educator's conference where it became abundantly clear that the facilitators defended our culture's dominant patriarchal, white structure. It was a painful learning opportunity that opened doorways for discussion and reflection on the complexity and invasiveness of the patriarchal, white influence on our current life in the United States. Those who suffered the most pain were people of color.
After this particular program was canceled, new programming was designed to honestly name and reflect on this dominant culture and the true loss we all share because of it's narrow definition. Naturally, myself and many of my white colleagues spent a lot of time wondering who could let this program happen and what they they could have individually done. I heard a lot of statements that began with:
"I should have...." or
"If only I had...." and now
"Next time, I will....."
After the conference, this story about Jesus and the disciples kept ringing through my head. I and my colleagues were wondering...
"Is it I?"
This is a good question that should not be ignored. But is it the most important question. Should we focus more closely on the question:
"Is it WE?"
The answer to this question is yes. It is all of us. We are swimming in a centuries-old, inculturated system that favors light skin and men. If we continue to only look at this through an individual lens that blames others or ourselves, I doubt real change will be able to occur. I wonder... It is time to worry less about who is responsible and focus more on how to make real systemic change?
Is it we?
Yes- yes, it is.
And it will be the WE that acts to bring effective change.
I Samuel 18: 10 The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; 11 and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.
The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures are full of amazing stories which span thousands of years. Some of these stories have made it into our society's conscience. Some of the stories are little known and may even seem a bit bizarre. Once a month, there will be a new blog that explores unusual texts. We will look at stories and discourses that are little known and could raise interesting questions. And to stay consistent with UUBiblestudy, we will explore context to better understand possible explanations for these stories that leave us scratching our heads.
Some of the subjects we will explore over the next several months include:
1. Myths in the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
2. Hebrew texts that frighten its readers.
3. Sex scandals, questionable sexual ethics.
4. Psalms. Are they all comforting?
5. Actions of Jesus that bewilder.
6. And many more....
I look forward to our explorations and hope that you will leave questions and comments along the way. The blog is just the start of a great conversation and it is my hope that you will join us.
Over a decade ago, I completed my Master's of Theological Studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC. The brilliant theologians in the Biblical Studies department opened my eyes to a complex world of story. Since then, I have enjoyed reading ancient Hebrew and Christian stories with a solid understanding that the context is as much of a storyteller as the story itself.
One thing I learned is the value of genealogy. The ancient Hebrew/Jewish people valued their genealogies as a form of eternal life. Today, the concept of afterlife if embedded into our culture. Then, there was no such thing as life beyond death. One's everlasting life came through their lineage.
Normally, women were not included in the patriarchal lineage. Yet the writer of the gospel of Matthew saw it wise to include five women. These women were strong and willing to take risks. One could even say that these women were willing to stain their reputations to do what was right. Each woman's story is a beautiful story and a lens into a complicated world of survival. Can you name the five women? Take a close look at the gospel of Matthew, chapter one and highlight their names. It is exciting to see them.
Starting in February 2016, I will begin to offer online classes and a 5-week study on the Women of Matthew's Genealogy will be among the first. If you would like to join one of these offerings, check out the classes page and learn more about the program. It would be an honor to journey with you through these stories.