Sunday, August 31, 2014

Changing Grace: Raising Girls in the Image of God

Each day at mealtime, our daughters say their grace, a simple child's prayer before eating.  We're trying to instill in them that it's important to be grateful for what we have to eat.  After interesting episodes of this (Jocelyn speeding through the words to get to her food, Jaelle not wanting to close her eyes), we've established a routine.  Until recently...

The grace we've taught the girls is the traditional "God is great, God is good.  Let us thank him for our food..."  One day, they said the words and I heard let us thank HIM.  This made me stop and take note.  I didn't say anything to them, but I pondered my hesitation.  Why did hearing them say thank HIM cause me to pause?  

I considered how we were raising our daughters.  We want them to be self-confident, loving, and mindful people.  We also want them to see themselves, as black females, in the image of God.  This prayer was repeating the idea that God is best represented in the image of a man.  Aren't our daughters God's image-bearers too?  I don't want my girls to view themselves as second-rate versions of humankind.  Their image of God is the beginning of their image of themselves.  Should a man be their master and provider?  Is a man closer to God than them?


I want them to know that God is beyond gender and yet encompasses all gender.  I would love if our daughters saw God as a woman and man.  Outside of and surpassing that, I would love them to see God as God, their Creator.  For that reason, we have changed grace in our home.  We now say:


God is great, God is good.
Lord, we thank You 
for our food.
By Your hands,
we are fed
Thank You Lord 
For our daily bread.
Amen.  




Grace sounds very similar to what it has been before, but there is no reference of gender.  I'm grateful for texts such as "She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse" by Elizabeth Johnson which point to the value in embracing feminine divinity within Christianity.  

I'm also more deeply appreciative of Womanist scholars such as Delores Williams who call for the need to employ black female images and perspectives of God.  Click to read Dr. Williams' account of what Womanist theology is using Alice Walker.  For Williams, this all centers on the question of "Who do you say God is?" - this is what made me pause - I want our  family to consider who we say God is.  I'm thankful for these women and for the many female scholars and ministers who are deepening my understanding of God.  


Our girls are teaching me a lot.  One Word may seem small, but one Word can change everything.   There's much more to say, but it's time to wake the girls for breakfast.  It is time to offer grace again.  God is great, God is good...




Lord, thank You for creating us.  Please forgive us for only seeing You in our image.  It is amazing to believe You are a God who creates beings that can create.  You are awesome!  Please help us to raise daughters and sons who see themselves in Your image and who value all people.  Personally, I pray that our family sees the fullness of Your image.  I pray that our girls love You, love themselves, and love others.  In Your precious, all-encompassing name, Amen.



Learning,
j.a.g.





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Genesis 1:27 (NRSV)
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Galatians 3:28 (KJV)
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Confessions of an Ex-Bible Reader

Seek out the book of the Lord and read... 
Isaiah 34:16a




​I’m convinced priests had no lives. If they had lives, there’s no way they could dedicate themselves to the Word like they did. They couldn’t have had children to feed or clothes to iron or bosses to satisfy. At the very least, they surely didn’t have my life. I can barely fit in time to devote to reading scripture. It’s saddening that one of the most important parts of my spiritual life used to be scripture reading. It used to be such a joy to read and be read by the Word. Not anymore. When I used to read, there were no sermons to prepare, no lessons to teach, nothing to decipher or decode. I read for pure desire. I read to get closer to God. Now, my reading is burdened by deadlines and expectations. Now, I hear each verse asking “What will you do with me?” when before I used to ask “What will you do with me?” In fact, I don’t even know if I read anymore – instead I scour.


​This year, I want to rekindle a relationship with the Bible that is based on love and not obligation. I’m challenging myself to read the entire Bible this year. I've created a calendar that I’ll be using to get through the year. I don’t want to get burned out or dejected so I’ve built in weekly times of Sabbath. I’ve also built in a month  of no readings at all! This will mean some heavier reading loads some days, but it’s important for me to have rest and to be realistic if I need to make up some readings during some part of the year. It’s also important to celebrate accomplishing things and to step away so it doesn’t become a burden again.



​I’m excited and interested to see what this year holds spiritually. I don’t believe the Word of God was given to me to be a chore or a bore. I believe it is God’s love letter to me. I believe God’s Word has outdone William Shakespeare, Zora Neale Hurston, and J.K. Rowling. I desire to be swept away again in it’s stories, lessons, and spirit. If you wish, feel free to grab a pen, curl up in a quiet spot, and join in the journey.*  “In the beginning, God…”



Read,

j.a.g.




God, I hope you hear my heart. I want to be close to you. Please give me the strength and openness to read with new eyes. Please open my eyes that I might see the wonderful things in your law. I long to know You and be known by You. Thank You. Amen.

 








 



*Email me at jeagilmo@gmail.com and I can send you the reading calendar.