As much as I do not want to get political on this blog much in me longs to speak my truth, my perspective on a few things.
I am in mourning. Grief is again a daily companion. Since COVID hit, the pitiful displays of all areas of leadership, the loss of lives, the riots, peaceful riots turned anything but and the hatred tangible in our streets I have mourned the loss of America. It has stirred within me, its jagged edges bringing forth blood. It has wrapped its tentacles around my heart and threatens to drown me in vileness. With the future in question, (Would we even live through it?) there seemed no safe place but the arms of God. And my belief in Him could cost me my life and the lives of my family. How do I walk away from the core of my existence?
In my artistic eye I have a vision of a neglected graveyard where the headstones mark the icons that bring America to mind. I hope to turn it into a multi-medium painting. Meanwhile, as I emerge from grief and shock my question is, “What now”?
How do we salvage America? As our enemies foreign and domestic are circling like we are now the greatest feast ever in life?
Where are our leaders set aside by God already to lead us? Have people of good moral character, honesty and trustworthiness already passed from this planet? The lack of decent government at all levels is apparent. Even in our small town our mayor has been arrested for ethic violations and our city council does not have its populations needs on their radar.
People are believing what the all to powerful media “reports” even when lies and cover-ups are exposed in their own coverage. They are arrogant in their spread of false and misinformation. Journalism has become at the least a joke but truthfully a disgrace to their forefathers in the field. A thorn in America’s flesh. This group keeps doing what they do because the majority enjoys wading in the stench as it suits their agendas.
Hope is a bubble in my heart. Healing is a possibility but it will come at a personal cost for each of us. Our forgiving those who have hurt, threatened to harm, whose perspectives and beliefs are opposite of our own. We have to give up the idea of forcing people to behave in the way we want. Most of all we have to admit where we are drowning in a flood that we caused by dancing the rain dance recklessly. We can be a better America than what we are now. Who is with me?
“When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
Once in a church our family were members of a congregation that had been without a pastor for several months. Finally we called an evangelism pastor as a interim until God showed us who to call longer term. He was a fine preacher/teacher. Knew the Bible well. Was also gifted in what we needed as far as administratively went. He was with us for over a year. After three months I realized he was bringing us the same sermon every week with different scripture to support his words.
My first thoughts were why? Every Sunday he was preaching about how to become a new Christian. Our number of attendees was dropping. As I looked around I thought, who here needs to hear this? This pastor’s gift was evangelism. He was an evangelist. Was that why? Did he know this so well he was not comfortable elsewhere in the Scripture?
We left that congregation. Not because of the pastor situation but because we felt we needed more to feed our spiritual lives. It’s been 13 years. The pastor of our church home now presented a moving sermon on Easter. It was theologically sound. It was challenging. The response from those of us in the congregation consisted of one person who went forward to pray. Like at our former church I found myself asking, “why”? Plus thinking how discouraging it must have been to invest all that time studying and preparing a sermon and no response.
Before you ask why I did not go forward it is because by the time I manage to roll myself and wheelchair to the altar every eye is upon me. Plus, the time has slipped away to respond. Maybe others, like myself, respond where they are.
Then part of my own Bible study this week lead me to Acts 8:1-40, specifically verses 4-25. Philip has contact in Samaria with a magician, a sorcerer. By the world’s standard he was very successful. He boasted about how great he was. Many people followed him. He was a believer in his own reputation. When Philip begins to preach in the area, cast out evil spirits and perform miracles many people began to follow him. Including Simon. He counted himself a true believer in Jesus Christ. I believe Simon was attracted to Philip’s “magic” which he saw as greater than his.
Then Peter and John arrived and when the new converts were prayed for and the duo lay their hands on them while praying they received the Holy Spirit. Simon saw this. Another two men whose “magic” was greater than Simons. He offered Peter and John money to teach him how to do what they did. Peter very bluntly let Simon know he had no part in the ministry they were doing because his heart was not right with God.
Simon became a true believer.
How many of us are Simon’s? We believe we believe in God. We do all of the right things. We attribute our earthly successes to God. But, when the point blank question is asked of us we suddenly see the truth. We are like Simon, not true Believer’s at all. Our hearts core is unchanged.
Witnessing this cancel culture, morally declining, hate and cruelty, lying movement attempt to wash Christianity from our world is crushing to me. I second guess my instinctive actions and often do not act for the risk exists anything can suddenly be considered the wrong thing to do. People I counted as my friends I am suddenly unsure of. Between COVID and an increase in crime I no longer feel safe in our little, rural county. Laugh if you are inclined but the day when we have to choose to die for Christ or live for evil is fast approaching. Not because of my feelings but because the signs are all there.
Why is the pastor’s sermon falling on deaf ears? Is it him or you? Do we not yet understand we are supposed to take Christ beyond the church walls and without action within the walls how can there be change outside of them?
“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. As has just been said: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.'” Hebrews 3:12-15 NIV
“Taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.”
What brings me joy from the depths of my heart? Here’s a partial list.
in the approaching dawn hours of the night when the flow of my laptop screen weakly illuminates my keyboarding fingers as I give free reign to the thoughts in my head. Especially when what has kept me awake or awakened me is a call to prayer.
when I am reading and studying the Word of God and He opens my mind to His understanding.
catching a glimpse of Heaven.
when my husband and I hold hands when going about our lives…for example, in church as we gather with other Believers to worship, in the car as we ride down the road, watching a television show or movie together, and in the time we are asleep and we reach for one another’s hand.
hearing the laughter of our daughter.
listening to my husband sing bass in the worship team on Sunday mornings.
being in the midst of our nieces and nephews.
being caught up in the creative process of drawing, painting, crafting, writing.
breathing in the ocean breeze as I enjoy being beachside in the fall and winter months.
paying our bills.
cooking and baking.
reading a good book.
The older I get, the less my true joy stems from materialistic things. When people ask, “What do you want for _______________”? I realize anew that there’s not really anything I want, nothing you can purchase online or in the store, wrap and tie up with a bow. Things are easily broken, wear out, can be stolen, lost or outgrown.
Instead joy, for me, is pure abandonment of want and being fully open to the presence of God in the moment I am living at that time. It is the realization that at that time my heart and soul have been flooded with the perfect love of God and His blessings. This joy is the complete, absolute of God’s love, provision and care for me and my family.
Where does your joy come from? What is the source of it?
being with a group of family or friends?
Maybe your list is a bit similar to mine. Maybe it is totally different. Maybe you can list what brings joy to your heart without much thought. Maybe you need time to let the question simmer on the back-eye of the stove for a while. Neither way is right or wrong.
Joy does not come only in the good times. It comes also after times of hardship, disappointment and when we know we have given the Lord a reason to be angry with us.
Sing the praises of the Lord, you his faithful people;
praise his holy name.
5 For his anger lasts only a moment,
but his favor lasts a lifetime;
weeping may stay for the night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning.
The Holy Bible New International Version, 1973, 1978. Zondervan Publishing Corporation.
Life does not always present joy to us in a pretty package and decorated with beautiful ribbon and bows. I have come to appreciate that joy has little to do with the circumstances of my life in the moment. Joy comes from perspective. A shift in how we are viewing the events going on in our lives allows the before unseen joys to take the spotlight.
For joy is also given as a fruit of the Spirit as Galatians 5:22 tells us.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22 (Italics mine.)
The Holy Bible New International Version, 1973, 1978. Zondervan Publishing Corporation.
Joy also arrives when life has given us reason to be anxious. Being a Christian does not mean we do not experience painful things, know disappointment and must learn to trust God in the times it is most difficult.
18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
19 When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.
Psalm 94:18-19 (Italics mine)
The Holy Bible New International Version, 1973, 1978, Zondervan Publishing Corporation.
My prayer for you today is that you will experience joy throughout your day and its source is our shared Lord and Savior.
There is a famous country song, made a hit by Garth Brooks. The chorus goes, “….I thank God for unanswered prayers, remember when you’re talking to the man upstairs, just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care…”
I do not agree with this song’s assessment of prayer and God answering our prayers. Instead I subscribe to this belief, God always answers our prayers. Always. In one of three ways.
He says yes.
He says no.
He says wait.
Since the third option is the hardest one for us to handle, this is where this blog will pick up here. Harder than a no? Yes. No is definite. Usually an indication that what we are petitioning God for is not within His will for our lives and/or not within His standard of righteousness. Wait, on the other hand, is defined in this case as either, “no, not right now” or “yes, just not right now”? Wait can seem like a no.
Why would God say, wait? Because sometimes what we are asking for right now, though within His will, within His parameters of right and wrong, we are not yet equipped to handle.
Suppose, for example, as a child we fall in love with missions. Especially foreign missions. We pray then that God will send us to the mission field. We are earnest in our prayers. We are praying for something God would certainly find to be right. We are eager to begin.
Why would God say, “Wait”? Common sense tells us that God is not going to send a child into the mission field unprepared. A child has not yet learned enough skills to get through the maze of life yet. So to be placed in the middle of another way of life, without ability to earn a living, secure housing, connect with people they know they can trust is beyond their maturity and capabilities. While no one can discredit the ability of children to be a part of mission work with adults, it is not common practice to put them in the mission field alone.
However, when the request is not as cut and dry our ability to understand gets stretched. What if the prayer request is to marry the person God intends for you to marry? Or to go back to school? Get a job that will enable you to provide more for your family? What if the prayer request is for complete healing of a spouse’s difficult to diagnosis disease or illness?
We pray. We are within God’s will. Healing is possible. Yet, it does not happen right away. Days tickle into months, months become a year and you find yourself on the way to a second year. The long-term disability insurance dries up, returning to work is still impossible, health insurance is canceled, life is turned upside down and the worst part is your spouse is still sick. One way or the other your spouse’s healing is within God’s will, so why would He say, wait?
Is it to teach us to trust Him regardless of the circumstances? Is it to remind us to be thankful always, during the good times and the harder, bad times? Perhaps He says wait because He wants to use this time in your life to draw other people to Him? Or to put it another way, maybe God is waiting because when He shows up He wants to show out.
We all have a hard time with the wait answer. For myself, the hardest time ever has been during my husband’s illness. The example detailed previously. God has said, wait.
Yes, I have railed against the Heaven’s because God has not said yes. I question why. I cry. I have had days when all I can think of ways to protect my family and throw in the towel at the same time. If God is not going to say, yes and say it right away how can He love me, I ask? If He does not love me enough to say yes, why does He not love my husband enough? Or our daughter? What about the crippling loneliness that creeps into our bones, into the finest of crevices in our souls that is not only overwhelming but unspeakable?
Maybe knowing the why God says to wait is not the important thing yet. Maybe the answers I should be seeking are what is He teaching me (and my family) during this time? What are those who are seated ring side in our lives seeing in us as we go through it?
Why God is still saying wait to our request for my husband’s healing I do not know. But I do know He is affirming that answer, right now. None of the possible severe consequences are off the table. I am well aware of that too.
So far though, our lives are a testimony to what is required of us when God says, “Wait”. I pray we are not failing Him.
Cleveland Elementary School in Cleveland, Alabama August 1970. A newly fat, brown-haired, brown-eyed girl can barely contain her excitment about finally starting school. Back then kindergarten was not a requirement so first grade would be my first experience with formal education. Plus, I had been taught to read by my mama and although I did not understand why it was such a gift, I knew it was one.
What else would I be able to learn? I had no clue actually, but I was eager to begin. Mama and I walked into that classroom and the teacher tells us I can sit where I want. I choose the front row right in front of the teachers desk. I had high hopes for this woman before me.
Then a girl walks in, points at my seat and demands I let her have it. There were other kids there already but there were lots of desks left. Believe me, in my six-year-old mind I was not giving up my desk.
Before it became more than a flicker of a thought though my mother took my book bag, my hand and moved me to the back row, far corner, last seat. She hissed at me that the girl was the daughter of a doctor, they had money, who was I to take her seat?
Mama stayed with me a bit longer and then hissed at me again, “Do not upset the doctor’s daughter,”. Then she left.
It was not high on my list of things I wanted to do. I was puzzled. Though a part of me began to understand, I was not as “good” as the doctor’s daughter. But, the teacher was asking for our attention and the real school part was beginning. Hurray.
It took a while but eventually we got to take a book, sit in a circle and we were going to begin to learn to read. Nearly everyone could say their alphabet. Some could recognize the letters too.
For now we just looked at the page and pointed out our letters as she showed us what they looked like and read to us. She’d call on us one at a time to point out a letter. When she called on me I made the mistake of asking her if I could just read her the page.
Without her permission, Miss Eager Beaver who apparently needed another lesson about her station in life, took off reading a Dick & Jane book. Anyone familiar with the Dick & Jane readers know there are not a lot of words on a page, or more than two to three word sentences.
Faster than I thought an adult could move she snatched that book away pinching my fingers between the pages. Without explanation I was sent from the reading group. You guessed it, right back to my desk in the back row in the far corner to the last desk.
During recess Teacher kept me inside. She came back to my desk and managed to sit in the chair in front of me. “You can’t read,” she said.
I was confused. Had I not just read to her? “Yes, I can. My mama taught me.”
“No, you cannot, I have not taught you to read. You cannot read yet.”
I remember looking down at the floor. My six-year-old mind could not understand. Of course I could read. I read books with way more words than Dick & Jane. Why would this woman, who I thought held the key to everything, be telling me I could not do what I had been doing since I was four?
“You will never do what you did this morning again until I tell you I’ve taught you how to do it. Do you understand?”
“But, my Mama taught me…”
“And your mother taught you all wrong. You cannot read.”
I sat the rest of recess sitting in my corner with my head down on my desk. Of course, I cried. My cousin who was in class with me thought, as did the rest of the class, that I had done something wrong and had to stay in from recess as punishment. He went right home and told my aunt, who told my mother, who gave me a spanking.
When I saw my mother I was ashamed and afraid to tell her what the teacher had said. Maybe if she had asked me I would have, but she did not. She kept her and my father’s promise that if I got in trouble at school I would get double trouble at home, hence the spanking.
Now I feared if I did tell her she would get into trouble because I had told on her for teaching me to read. I never told anyone either until years later. Just my doll Tippy Toes, and she kept my secret.
Eventually the teacher informed me I could start to read words, but she kept the brakes on me. Maybe she thought I would appear to be a show-off to the other children? Maybe she did not know how to deal with a six-year-old who was already reading at a third to fifth grade level? I am sure she had her reasons. I am not sure any of them are good enough for what she robbed me of that year.
Where I had been excited about school I was now nervous. I had panic attacks at every test. Could not trust myself to believe I really knew the information. After all, I thought I knew how to read and it was a good thing and it turned out to be horrible.
I understood my station in life. It took one school year. One. Nine months. Afterall, was that not exactly the lesson I was taught? Turned out I was a good student.
In some ways, I am still that fat kid in the far corner, in the back row, in the last seat.
I cannot remember what that doctor’s daughter from the first grade looked like or what her name was though she taunted me for the entire school year. Is my memory void of small details for self-presevation or simply the fact we moved and I never saw her again? Or the result of getting older?
Nor can I remember my teachers name or appearance. I came back into possession of the yearbook from my first grade year when my mama died. I had no idea it even still existed.
Part of me wanted to look. Could I pick the girl out? Did I not want to see the teacher’s face? No. No I did not.
I simply threw it away. It held nothing I needed to remember. I remembered enough. The real story of my first grade year, the year I learned my station in life, was not recorded between those once white pebbly cover pages.
Often, I can hear God laughing at me. You know those kind of times, right? When I make my own decision, my own declaration and I sound like an over-indulged, spoiled person instead of the Daughter of the King, the Lord God Almighty.
A couple of Sunday’s ago our church began a witnessing focus where we were encouraged to pray for the one person God put on our hearts to pray for. Specifically for them to come to know Christ in a personal relationship. First, I confess I prayed and thought, “Okay, I am good. No one…”
Then God whispered a name. I groaned. Right there in church I literally groaned and began to argue with the Lord.
This particular person is someone I have prayed for on and off until last year for about a decade. Some things he has done there is pictorial evidence of. About a year ago he was arrested for allegedly physically abusing his young son. Understand this, at that point my heart was too hurt (knowing quite well the child involved as well as his other children) to keep the praying going.
God never said, “Donna you can stop”. I think He understood all the circumstances and gave me a brief reprieve. Now, this man’s name was being whispered in my ear.
“Are you sure that’s You, Lord? I mean, You know what this man has done. And IT IS CHILD ABUSE GOD. Surely You do not mean I have to start praying for him again?”
Again his name echoed in my heart.
Then the best argument against my praying for this one man I had, I thought. “But God, I do not think having me pray for him is in his best interest. All I’ve wanted to do for a year is smack the man upside his head with my big stick.”
For the third time God repeated His request.
I knew if I wanted to be in God’s will in this I was going to have to follow through with what God wanted. Around the lump in my throat (all those excuses/reasons I had to not pray for this young man) I submitted.
After day one I have not had any resentment praying for this guy. I do not recount his sins even those against people I love. Proof God is in this praying.
God is still laughing about the big stick though. (It is two 1/2″ dowel rods duck taped together at the end of one against the end of the other. I use it daily to reach things I can not get to from my wheelchair. Like the light switch.)
Let’s be honest. Christian or not, it is not easy to pray for people who you perceive as a threat to you, your family, your faith or your way of life. Sometimes our perceptions are wrong. Sometimes it is the result of realities.
Finishing up my prayer time and Bible study time with God in these wee small hours of the morning and beginning to pray for another person it was hard to submit to doing, I hear God laughing. “Have we not been in this particular conversation before?”
“Well, yes God and I will do as You have asked. But, God, I do still have my big stick”.
Our nieces and nephews are a great source of love, comfort and joy for their funcle (fun uncle) and I. On a recent occasion we were together one of eight-year-old nieces was in a mood. She was hot. She was cold. Her hair should be up, no she wanted it down. Why was the drive taking so long? Why were we there so quickly? She was finding little happiness in anything.
I called her over and gave her a huge hug. Kissed her forehead and said, “Now what’s going on with you Miss Moody?” Nothing. No reply.
I told her, “I see something has you unhappy and I’m sorry. I just want you to know you are the apple of my eye.” From her face hidden on my shoulder she peeked up at me.
“Oh, he’s the orange,” I said.
She popped up and grinned. “The orange?”
She sat back down a happier child. Proceeded to eat her seven shrimp and five of mine, plus a piece of broccoli from her funcle’s plate. All her crankiness did not melt away but she giggled more and lunch was a happier experience for us all.
I understood how she felt. How often do I feel the need to feel God’s arms holding me and hear Him tell me He loves me? All the time. On this day whatever had our niece in mood was set right by the reminder she was extra special to me. She is extra special. Everyone of our nine nieces and nephews are special to us. We love the love and joy they bring to us and we try to give them love and joy too.
Today, look up to God and ask Him for a hug and reminder of how much He loves you. There is no shame in asking for what you need. Then pray about the person in your life that needs the same reminder from you.
Confession, this question came from a post on my church’s Facebook page. It immediately made me consider my own answer. After all, a one time opportunity to speak over coffee with one person from the Bible besides Jesus should take some consideration. Don’t you think?
Immediately I put all the major people in the Scriptures at the bottom of my list. Why? We know already, what people like Noah, King David, Ruth, Esther, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, Timothy, Mary the mother of Jesus, Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) think about their encounters with God, Jesus. There are several “minor” people we see in passing in the Bible that are ones I’d like to hear from myself.
My coffee invitation would go to Mary Magdalene. Mentioned twelve times in the four gospels of the New Testament, but with little background as to who she was. Lots of rumor, assumptions such as she was a prostitute. (There is no evidence of this accusation.) So, I’d like to know as much as I could about this woman of faith. Going to the source of the one who knows is usually the best place to start to understand the truth.
What questions would I ask her? Ordinarily I wouldn’t get terribly nosey about a person’s private life over a cup of coffee. I don’t want to bring up anything Mary Magdalene would be uncomfortable discussing. Yet, I also believe we’d both like to “set the record straight”.
Knowing already that the accusation she was a reformed prostitute has no evidence other than vaporous threads of people trying to explain her presence in Jesus’ life through a viewpoint of creating smoke to start a fire.
There is no evidence Mary Magdalene were married, that she was the Mary of Mary and Martha, Lazurus’ sisters either. Nor any evidence she and Jesus were married or lovers.
I would like to know, from a woman’s perspective, what Jesus was like as Himself in a day-to-day view. Despite the time in history when women had little legal standing in the community, were treated as property under the control of husbands, fathers, older male relatives or her male siblings Jesus did much to counter that culture.
Never before, in that Jewish culture, had a woman set at a man’s feet to be educated about God. Nor would a Jewish man speak to, much less ask help from, a Samaritian woman. Especially not who was obviously an outcast of her own community because of the time she came to draw water. Nor would a Jewish man tell a woman that her focus needed to be on God the Father, not on house keeping chores or even preparing for all the people gathering at their own home to see Him.
Yes, I’d like to know what Jesus was like interacting with the women in His life. not just in the precious few events recorded in the Bible. I believe I know. I believe I understand enough about Jesus, His character, His internal being that tells me I would not be disappointed in anything Mary Magdalene would tell me.
Jesus is the only person who has ever walked on this Earth who was perfect. He had to be flawless, pure, cleaner than clean inside in order to be the sacrifice to die upon the cross for our sins. The Old Testament speaks with no nonsense about how flawless an animal sacrifice for people’s sins had to be when they brought them as offerings to the temple. Imperfection would not do. So a flawed sacrifice is non-Biblical. Against God’s character.
Who was she? What is her testimony about how Jesus changed her life? Were her “demons” demonic spirits or mental illnesses? Jesus became the center of her life, why? I believe He still does and can do the same for us all today.
Mary Magdalene! Welcome, won't you come in and have a cup of coffee? Do you take cream or sugar? I'm so excited to have some time with you.
Thanks for reading, I am also leaving some of my research on Mary Magdalene below.
Mary Magdalene,[a] sometimes called Mary of Magdala, or simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion and its aftermath. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles and more than any other woman in the Gospels, other than Jesus’ family. Mary’s epithetMagdalene may mean that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.
The Gospel of Luke8:2–3 lists Mary Magdalene as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry “out of their resources”, indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in the longer ending of Mark. In all four canonical gospels, Mary Magdalene is a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she is also present at his burial. All four gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women which includes Jesus’s mother, as the first to witness the empty tomb, and the first to witness Jesus’s resurrection.
For these reasons, Mary Magdalene is known in some Christian traditions as the “apostle to the apostles”. Mary Magdalene is a central figure in later Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary which many scholars attribute to Mary Magdalene. These texts portray Mary Magdalene as an apostle, as Jesus’s closest and most beloved disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic texts, or Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene’s closeness to Jesus results in tension with another disciple, Peter, due to her gender and Peter’s jealousy of special teachings given to her. Scholars find claims Mary Magdalene was romantically involved with Jesus to be unsupported by evidence.
The portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute began after a series of Easter sermons delivered in 591, when Pope Gregory I conflated Mary Magdalene, who is introduced in Luke 8:2, with Mary of Bethany (Luke 10:39) and the unnamed “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. This resulted in a widespread belief that she was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Elaborate medieval legends from western Europe tell exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene’s wealth and beauty, as well as her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed “sinful woman” was a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church emphasized Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance.
In 1969, the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the “sinful woman” was removed from the General Roman Calendar by Pope Paul VI, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, and by the Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. In 2016 Pope Francis raised the level of liturgical memory on July 22 from memorial to feast. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions.
Soon afterwards he (Jesus) went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod‘s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.— Luke 8:1–3
Mary Magdalene has the reputation in Western Christianity as being a repentant prostitute or loose woman; however, these claims are not supported by the canonical gospels, which at no point imply that she had ever been a prostitute or in any way notable for a sinful way of life. The misconception likely arose due to a conflation between Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany (who anoints Jesus’s feet in John 11:1–12), and the unnamed “sinful woman” who anoints Jesus’s feet in Luke 7:36–50. As early as the third century, the Church Father Tertullian (c. 160 – 225) references the touch of “the woman which was a sinner” in effort to prove that Jesus “was not a phantom, but really a solid body.” This may indicate that Mary Magdalene was already being conflated with the “sinful woman” in Luke 7:36–50, though Tertullian never clearly identifies the woman of whom he speaks as Mary Magdalene.
With COVID, my husband’s illness, my lack of mobility when I am alone, we’ve not been blessed by being able to attend church services steadily once our state government made it possible again. Until the last month when it depended on physical strength, breathing and a whole lot of wanting to.
This morning, for the first time in eight months my bass singing husband was able to stand up with the worship team and sing again. It was a tremendous faith resulting event for both of us, our church and wholly the work of God in our lives.
Not surprising, music is where God worked in my heart right away this morning.
For every day and night since the 2020 Presidential Election kicked into high gear I’ve really wrestled with trying to understand what was going on. After the actual vote I kept it up. As of this writing, the only ones sure of a winner of the Presidential Election are the national news media and the Democratic Proclaimed winner.
I still have many questions. Answers seem far away. Truth seems to have disappeared. This country, America, that I love, seems closer to peril than before the election. And yes, I really struggle with not reacting to posts, comments, and people whose actions, behaviors and thought processes are plain offensive.
This morning though messages I received that eliminated part of the struggle for me came from the lyrics of a song, “In the Father’s House” as sung by Cory Asbury.
"...my failure won't define me
That's what my Father does...
Ooh...lay your burdens down.
Ooh...here in the Father's House.
Check your shame at the door,
'Cause it ain't welcome anymore,
Ooh...you're in the Father's house..."
If in my quest to avoid conflict, confrontation with people I consider friends and even some of my family members, I kept the “peace”. Had it come at a dreadful cost? If so, I found assurance that it’s a failure that won’t define me. I know I voted the way I was lead to by God, the Father. Yet, I also know people who would say the same thing about themselves who voted exactly opposite of me.
If God was leading all of us, then how did we end up at such radically different decisions when our pens touched the ballots this week? If anything should absolutely mirror us the exact same, it should be the Word of God.
Now if you don’t believe in God, or His Word and have no respect for either or anyone who does, that would answer the question immediately. I’m not talking about those who choose this way to live. I’m talking about those of us who claim we do.
"The story's never over,
If the story isn't good,
Failure's never final
When the Father's in the room."
This portion of the son brought load of tears to my eyes. If I am the one who has sinned and refused to listen to the Father’s directive, “the story” isn’t over even if it isn’t good. God will take my failure and make something good out of it. That’s the kind of God He is. Now, He won’t remove the consequences of my sin (if in this case I am the one who is wrong) but He is prepared to help all of us through the next four years. The story doesn’t end here, in these moments.
After investing a lot of time into researching a lot of the candidates and their respective parties, I have come away with a cynical, very cynical view of main stream media. Plus, so many of the alternative sources as well. Add to that the candidates themselves.
For example, in my home state we had a long-term Democratic senator on the ballot for re-election. Not sure of the reasons why exactly the Alabama Republican Party put forth a former instate SEC football coach to challenge him. In my research this coach was a decent coach but he has no political experience and at the time of his nomination was a resident of Florida.
Was this the best we had? Maybe so. Would you run for a political office given the cess pool politics has become? I sure wouldn’t. Maybe that’s why our pool of choices was so limited.
I voted for the coach simply because my conscience wouldn’t allow me to vote for the now outgoing senator. He was the least of two evils.
"Miracles take placeThe cynical find faith And love is getting through When the Father's in the room. Jericho walls are quakin' Strongholds now are shakin' Love is breakin' through When the Father's in the room..."
With those words I could picture all of our prayers combining this morning, upholding one another, a crowd of around a hundred people (and more not knowing how many were viewing our service on Facebook or YouTube), lifting our hearts and voices in prayer.
I could almost hear the steady thump, thump of the feet of the children of Israel as they marched around Jericho in silence until the last day. Or were those our feet marching around Washington D.C.? The strongholds shaking were those of the past or of the current? Right down to the private ones we hid in our lives?
We were certainly reaching God. I could almost see the movement between us of the Holy Spirit. Was this same uplifting happening in every other House of Worship this morning? If not, why not? If we’re all worshipping the same God, how can we be so divided?
Not just on abortion, healthcare, taxes, jobs, foreign relations, racial relations, education to name a few, but on the foundational stones of our society and our lives? Things like truth? Trust? You absolutely cannot build any relationship if there is not 100% honesty so there can be 100% trust.
I’m blessed again by being able to say, I was able to understand all this even before our pastor preached. He too brought the Gospel and the truth.
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