The Work of the People

JUN 10, 2016 - Visual Liturgy
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You Are Forgiven

You Are Forgiven…
(inspired by Luke 7:36-8:3)

In contemplating this scripture passage this week, I struggled with the imagery in the scene…I spent time contemplating being the woman and Simon. It was eye opening to me that when I spent time in the story as her, I naturally projected myself a victim. I imagined all the “bad” stuff she must have done, and how desperate she must have been for relief. I became sad, and felt in my woman’s-self the desperation I sometimes feel (yes, even as a privileged person) for validity from men, for the acknowledgement from “other” of my enough-ness.

When I put myself in Simon’s shoes, I became prickish. I filled with judgment and all the wrong kinds of stature. I felt like I was more than enough, that I was better, that I was above. This was also eye opening as I heard a deep inner voice say “who do you think you are, anyway?” Why did I project him as a condemning, elitist, idiotic jerk?

What did this mean for me, what am I learning about my beliefs?

What if this isn’t how it happened at all? What if she was overwhelmed with grace and acceptance by this new teacher she had heard of and took up her oil as an expression of her gratitude. With right humility. As a response to God’s Love and inclusion? What if Jesus saw this as a learning experience for Simon, to say…I know you’ve been raised to believe you can do or be a certain way to be better in God’s eyes…but let me show you how God sees.

Many of us believe we are good or bad people because of what we do and sometimes what belief system we follow. But God doesn’t seem (to me) to base our value on goodness or badness, humans do. God seems to say we are worth teaching and worth waiting for—God expands grace to include all of us. 

That is what it seems like in this scene. Love was issued, received, reciprocated, witnessed, and extended further. It would be easy to look at this scene and draw a grace circle around Jesus and this woman…and not see Jesus expanding the circle to include Simon. 

But these are all just my contemplations and projections. Regardless of the motivations of these ancient people, in this moment in time, the overriding truth I understood is Jesus is still making room for all.

I cannot go without saying in this blog post that the issue of the current Stanford rape story is breaking my heart and causing a struggle. Like many people, I hurt for the victim. Her letter was a beautifully written piece that continues to haunt my thoughts. I hate what happened to her. I hate that it happens to women and men and no one ever knows. I hurt for those who are carrying this violation in their lives.

I have seen the rapists face smeared across FB, and worked hard not to hate him specifically. I try not to hate the judge who let him off. I believe he needed a stronger consequence, and lots of therapeutic help. I know that hating him separates me…and so then I am moved toward God asking how to love bigger. Only God can do this. 

Only God. 

And so I accept and acknowledge that I am still learning who I am following, and I continue to be stretched by God's ways.

Blessings to you all.

Kelly Stewart Hall
The Work of the People

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We believe there is an alternative narrative to the prevalent narrative of scarcity and fear. We believe God is moving and is behind an alternative narrative of abundance and freedom, a narrative in which fear gets defeated and love wins.

We believe God’s narrative requires we altǝr our perspective, that we step, in faith, into God’s upside down reality. In God’s reality we listen for, live and speak God’s upside down voice of faith, hope and love, not striving for ourselves but serving our neighbor. For all these reasons, this is Altǝr.

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