What this season tells us about hope in an uncertain world. (Published by RELEVANT)
“I’ve never looked forward to Advent as much as this year,” a pastor friend recently said to me. With ongoing news of global tensions and suffering many of us feel tired and off kilter. As Christians, we remind ourselves that “God is still on his throne.” But as the world brims with heartbreak, it’s easy to wonder, “Has God has taken a hiatus? Is God really in control?”
In the weeks before Christmas, many of us set up a wreath and light candles in anticipation of Jesus’ birth. Advent, the Latin word for “arrival,” reminds us that God stepped into human flesh. Emmanuel. God is with us and for us.
Advent reassures us that God hasn’t abandoned us or our fallen, broken world.
The prophet Isaiah expressed hope for God to deliver his people during a period of turbulent divisions. As the Northern and Southern kingdoms fought bitterly, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attacks, and eventual ruin, God promised them a Savior: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Today, our communities and world face turbulent fighting and bitter divisions. The recent U.S. presidential election has left many of us divided and fearing for the future. Images of Syrian refugees fleeing genocide flood us with grief and powerlessness. Already, many of us are overwhelmed in our own personal lives, too. Like Isaiah, we long for God to move. … Continue Reading
“Who’s your candidate?” A Facebook friend asked me last week.
“Only God and the angels know,” I responded.
Truly, only God and celestial beings saw the boxes I colored in, with a black marker, inside a cardboard voting booth. Not even my husband knows. And I’m keeping it that way though anyone who follows me on social media might figure it out.
In our polarized world that rarely practices the discipline of listening—for the sake of mutual understanding—I’m keeping the hard choices of my soul private.
This doesn’t mean I believe politics should be private. It’s just that spilling my thoughts, feelings, and political opinions to everyone has never gone well.
I pause because it’s hard to have healthy discussions. Others react, and I’m tempted to react. These days, it seems the whole world has forgotten that jamming opinions down others’ throats—religious, political and otherwise—does nothing to win friends or influence people. … Continue Reading
“I don’t know, Tiffiney, I just don’t see it,” I said after Tiffiney, my African American classmate, brought up the subject of racism in America. I went on, “I just feel like racism is a thing of the past, I mean, we elected an African American president, after all. I just feel like we’re beating a dead horse and keep bringing something up that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Tiffany’s demeanor changed as she noticeably shutdown and slumped down in her chair.
The professor took a deep breath, sensing the tension in the room, “I think it’s time we take a break.”
That was the dumbest thing I have ever said,ever,because I was dead wrong.
In a pivotal essay in the 80’s, Peggy McIntosh wrote, “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group”
You see, I too was unaware of the invisible systemic issues that exist in America today, mainly white privilege.
Definition: white privilege, a social relationA right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities.… Continue Reading
Huffington Post first published this essay. It is Part 5 of Kelly Ladd Bishop‘s series “The Real Lives of Women in Ministry.” Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here. Read Part 3 here. Read Part 4 here.
“So why are you in seminary?” A male colleague asked me.
He pronounced you similar to eeuw, as if an insect had crawled through a broken screen window into the house.
I debated how to respond to the annoying question that came up regularly at the evangelical seminary where I pursued a Master of Divinity. It made no sense—Isn’t the Bible crystal clear that Jesus is the Living Word? Before ascending to heaven, didn’t he instruct men and women to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth? Hadn’t the apostle Paul exhorted all Christians to live in Christ more than any other instruction? Doesn’t God’s written word—sola scriptura—point to everything we need to know for faith and practice?
For the life of me, it made zero sense why anyone would question an evangelical woman wanting tools for studying the Bible and knowing God deeply. Should women aspire to be in Christ less than men?
The question seemed absurd. I imagined what would happen if I joked with the guy, “Actually, I’m here because of the money, the sex, and the power. What about you?”
Knowing that he probably wouldn’t think that was as funny and ironic as I did, I offered my nerdy real reason: “I’m in seminary because I love God, and I want to teach and write about God’s word with integrity.”
I saved my joke for female colleagues who laughed hysterically (at the thought of gaining money, sex and power). Each of us had signed up for a steep climb when answering the call to ministry leadership. We knew we’d face difficulties finding jobs. For those of us who were single, we knew the rarity of meeting a husband who would celebrate a wife in ministry. We understood that evangelical churches tend to limit women to unpaid work revolving around hospitality and women’s and children’s programs. Institutional powers weren’t likely to offer an upward spiral to ministry paradise.
Raising A Standard and Sounding an Alarm To End Violence Against Women
Editor’s Note: I love to joke around. Mostly it keeps me sane. I turn to humor because, much of the time, life is too painful. I’d rather joke than fall apart. But lately, my humor has dwindled. I can’t joke when everywhere I turn, I see reminders of abuses and devastation that so many women and girls have suffered. And so many of our society—including evangelicals—turn deaf ears and blind eyes.
The Holy Spirit continues spotlighting fallen, broken attitudes and beliefs that perpetrate abuses and violent crimes suffered by so many women and girls. Today Tina Osterhouse challenges us to raise a standard and sound an alarm. Of the news that Donald Trump has admitted to sexually assaulting women, she writes, “Our children will read about this scandal in history books. They will know how women raised the alarm, saying, “No. not anymore. We have daughters. We have little girls. No. No. No.”
May we as Christians denounce sinful attitudes and beliefs harming so many women and girls. May evangelical men step up, speak out, and hold other men accountable.