In this time of social distancing when I can’t be in church or hang out with friends as much as I’d like, I’ve been spending more time reading. On Sunday mornings my family gathers around our kitchen table to read the Bible and a contemporary edition of John Bunyan’s classic allegory, Pilgrim’s Progress. Before bed, I turn to either Andrew Murray’s 19th century devotional on prayer (loaned to me by a friend) or to author Maggie Wallem Rowe’s brand new devotional This Life We Share (NavPress, 2020).
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays – and not just because of the pie. I love gathering with family and friends, sharing a bountiful meal and heading out in the crisp November air for a post-Thanksgiving walk, all long-held traditions. But for those who have experienced pain and loss, Thanksgiving can be a raw reminder of what – or who – is missing around the table.
I no longer saw the cross as a symbol of faith reflecting the risen Lord. I saw it as the instrument of torture for which it was designed. I saw how it has been used by the church to torture others.
Did you know that in Jewish culture at the time of Jesus there were six ways in which a person could be “born again”? According to my Complete Jewish Study Bible these included: when a boy becomes bar mitzvah at age thirteen, when a Jewish man married, when he was ordained as a rabbi, when he became the head of a rabbinical school, or when a Gentile converted to Judaism or was crowned as King.
When was pregnant with my second child, instead of driving to my local doctor’s office for prenatal checkups, I drove 45-minutes from our house in Bath, Maine, to an abandoned church in Lewiston where boxes of donated food filled the lobby and economically disadvantaged, single moms came together for support for their young children.