A Merry Covid Christmas

My thoughts on finding joy this Christmas season for NBC Think. 

Advent Anticipations: A Waiting Time

Let us pray: We are waiting We are waiting in the dark We are waiting in the holy darkness We are waiting in the womb of God Between this Advent and the next We wait Sunday120620 from Trinity Episcopal on Vimeo. We are waiting. We are waiting for Christmas. We are waiting for the end more »

Jesus and Hagar: the Form of a Slave

Let us pray: All-Seeing God, All-Knowing God, All-Loving God, we await your coming, your presence and, your return. Amen. Hagar named the Living God who spoke to her: “You are El-ro’i”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing God?” (Genesis 16:13) [The sermon can be viewed here at the more »

A Legal Perversion of Justice

Breonna Taylor’s death and the lawlessness of law and order

Breonna Taylor, a Black woman sleeping in her bed, was shot and killed by a white police officer who burst into her home on what is now regarded as an improper warrant. Thinking they were being robbed, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired his legal and licensed weapon in self-defense, which the police used as justification for killing her and wounding him. The verdict in the case against the officers found that, as long as someone—in this case a person outside of their home, after repeated questioning and several different responses—said that he heard the police identify themselves, then the shooting was justified, no matter that Breonna and Kenneth did not…

Jonathan Price Was Murdered and this Won’t Be the Last Time

A psalm of rage and lament to the tune of black women’s tears.

Riot Psalm

If I were to riot
I would riot against those institutions that actively harm Black people
I would riot against those businesses built on the stolen labor of Black people
I would riot against those churches built with bloodied Black hands…

White Supremacy in Biblical Interpretation

Scholar Strike, 09.08.2020

Mary of God

Let us pray:

In the name of the One who waded in the waters of Miryam’s womb, walked the way of suffering as one of the woman-born, and woke from the grasp of death in the deep darkness of the morning. Amen.

Priscilla: Pastor, Preacher, Apostle

The Magdala Stone represents a tangible connection to the world of Mary Magdalene whether she attended the synagogue there or not.

God of our mothers, Hagar, Sarah and Keturah, fold us under the shelter of your wings with all your children of every race and every faith and may God who is Majesty, Mercy, and Mystery speak words of life, love, and liberation through these words. Amen.

Building on Sheerah’s Legacy

My “Smith Talk” at The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries Co-Creating with God Virtual Leadership Conference, 14 July 2020.

Hagar, Sarah and Black Lives Matter

Ahmaud Arbery, 23 Feb 2020
Breonna Taylor, 13 March 2020
George Floyd, 25 May 2020
Rayshard Brooks, 12 June 2020

And–and still: Trayvon and Ayanna and Sandra and Mike and Amidou and Freddie and Miriam and Rekia and, and, and…

The Fires of Pentecost 2020

What does Pentecost look like when the world is on fire? A rushing wind. Does it blow out the flames or does it whip them into and even more furious inferno?
What meaning does the ancient imagery hold today, human tongues forked like fire? What are those tongues saying? To whom are they speaking? Who can even hear or understand them in the roar of the flames? …

Three Days Later: A Womanist Midrash

Not every woman was at the tomb. Not everyone was in that locked room. Some picked up the broken pieces of their hearts and went home. Some would have visitors bursting into their homes to tell them unbelievable news. Some would be snatched by the arm in the market and dragged under an archway to more »

Mother of a Movement

Her child hung dying on a cross, Mary the mother of Jesus. Her child was snatched off the road and said to have hung herself, Geneva Reed-Veal the mother of Sandra Bland. Her child was slaughtered in a maelstrom of forty-one police bullets, Kadijatou Diallo the mother of Amadou Diallo. Her child hung dying on more »

Torah of the Earth

It is for you that paradise is opened, the tree of life is planted, the age to come is prepared, plenty is provided, a city is built, rest is appointed, goodness is established and wisdom perfected… 2 Esdras 8:50 Let us pray: In the name of the One who waded in the waters of Miryam’s more »

Wisdom of the Earth

Video from Westside UU Church, Fort Worth, 03.1.2020

Biblical Language for a God Who Transcends Gender

TheoEd from First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, 02.20.2020 A distinguished womanist biblical interpreter, Dr. Wil Gafney reveals the Bible’s use of masculine and feminine imagery for God and how it invites us to look beyond traditional gender categories.

A Pastoral Epistle on Texts of Terror

Yesterday we covered grotesque violence in Judges in my Introduction to Interpreting the Hebrew Bible in Context course at Brite Divinity School. The texts were traumatizing. I was traumatized. I felt the trauma of my students and held it through the night. This morning I sent them this pastoral professorial epistle. Gentle Students, Yesterday’s readings more »

Wil Gafney Interview with Dr. Dwight Moody

The Meetinghouse, 01.24.2020 Dr. Dwight Moody is in the Meetinghouse with a wonderful interview with Dr. WIl Gafney. The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. is Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to Women of the Torah and of the Throne, a more »

Translation Matters

Video from All Saints Church, Pasadena, 12.2.2019

Holy Blackness: The Matrix of Creation

Let us pray: God of fire and light who dwells in thick darkness,the light and the dark are alike to thee,open the eyes of our hearts that we might see. Amen. In the velvet darkness, darker than a thousand midnights down in a cypress swamp, this luminous darkness, this radiant blackness, the wholly black and more »

Holy Blackness: The Matrix of Creation

“Jesus showed us by how he lived and died and lived again on the other side of death that nothing is too big, too much, too hard for God, that human dignity and flourishing are God’s dream for us no matter under what oppressive systems we find ourselves. The Jesus who allied himself with the poor and disenfranchised by becoming poor and disenfranchised will not abandon us to a world that does not love us, fears us and seeks to harm us. Rather Jesus stands with us as we remake the world that is our heritage, our sacred trust, as we rediscover its poetry and the poetry inside of each of us.”

Sermon by Wil Gafney at All Saints Church, Pasadena, on Sunday, December 1, 2019.

Holy Leviticus! Justice is True Holiness

There are some verses from Leviticus 19 that we don’t often hear, in part because the verses we do often hear have been decontextually weaponized and which, even when contextually comprehended, speak more to ancient biases than to actual biology. Yet just as Jesus the Son of Woman is fully human and fully divine, so more »

Exegeting the Times: An Ordination Sermon

Speak life through words ancient and new, that we might serve you, serving those whom you love in life, in death, and in life beyond death. Amen. As I thought about what I want to say to Christian on the occasion of his ordination, remembering my first ordination 23 years and one day ago, it more »

Was It All A Dream? A Resurrection Story

A narrative sermon in first person, delivered without notes, Easter 2019.

I’ve been sleepwalking through the last three days. It’s been a living nightmare. You don’t know if you weren’t here. I told myself not to go, but I went anyway. I told myself not to look, but I looked anyway. Almost every day the Romans hang someone from one of their crosses or invent some new form of public humiliation. But this was different. He was such a gentle soul. You should see the way children climbed all over him. He could get loud and he could be sharp. His words could cut you to the bone and leave you in tears, but it was always the truth, whether you wanted to hear it or not. And if you would listen, he would always tell you what would make you whole. I didn’t want it to be true, but I saw it with my own eyes.

Lament for Jerusalem and Genocidal Violence

Luke 13:31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Go! And get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘See here, I am casting out demons and restoring health today and tomorrow, and on the third I more »

Ritualizing Bathsheba’s Rape

In the powerful image by Pauline Williamson (who creates as Sea), Bathsheba sits with her dead or dying child produced from David’s rape while he prays for the child. See her own interpretive work on this passage here. It is Shrove Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when Christians traditionally went to confession and were more »

Rejoice and Repent

Let us pray: Blessed Mother, teach us to say yes to God. Amen. This is Joy Sunday. If we still spoke Latin as a Church, we’d know it as GaudeteSunday in part because before it tells us not to worry about anything, Philippians says: Rejoice in the Lord always! Again, I say, Rejoice! Gaudete (rejoice) in more »

Majesty, Mercy, and Mystery

Welcome to Trinity on the last Sunday of the Christian calendar, the Sunday in which we proclaim Christ’s sovereignty and wrestle with the limitations of human language. Let us pray: May God who is Majesty, Mercy, and Mystery travel with us from cradle to cross. Amen. Our lessons are trying to do two things, end more »

What Does the Bible Say About Sexuality?

National Courageous Conversations Part VI: Sexuality with Dr. Wil Gafney, Dr. Cleotha Robertson, Dr. Rodney Sadler and Quonekuia Day.

Courageous Conversations is Jude 3 Project’s national gathering that pairs African American voices trained at conservative evangelical seminaries or divinity schools with African American voices trained at mainline seminaries or divinity schools to discuss controversial topics.

Redeeming Qayin (Cain)

In the name of God whose mercy is just and whose justice is merciful. Amen. Zillah gave birth to Tuval Qayin, who forged every kind of implement of bronze and iron. And the sister of Tubal Qayin was Naamah. In my sanctified imagination I envision what it was like being Tuval Qayin, saddled with the more »

God Is Bigger

  I could preach all four readings in one sentence: God Is Bigger. But we live in a time when clichés and bumper sticker theology won’t cut it, even if they’re true. We face serious issues, serious life-threatening, heart-rending issues. In the face of incarcerated children crying for mothers they’ve been told abandoned them, politicians more »

How Long Shall Justice Be Aborted?

Dr. Wil Gafney at Christ The King Posted by Traci Blackmon on Sunday, October 7, 2018 Violence. A single word of scripture begets a thousand words. The prophet cried violence, screamed violence; hurled it at the skies and the God veiled within. Violence. Violence all around. Habakkuk’s people were under siege. He doesn’t tell us more »

When Gomer Looks More Like God

Some men love to call women whores. Some women do too. The biblical writers use the word whore and accusations of whoring freely and freely attribute them to God. Reading a text like Hosea can easily have you convinced God–or somebody–is fixated on women’s bodies and sexuality as though we are the genesis of everything more »

Wisdom’s Table is God’s Table

In the name of God who reveals herself to be more than we ever expected. Amen. The insistence that God is male and only male has not rung true to more than half the people on planet from the time the Israelite Judean elite began to codify their sacred texts shaping the religions that have more »

The Gospel and the Cross Are Political

In the name of the crucified God who bids us take up our cross in this crucifying world, Amen. In the scriptures the Wisdom of God is presented as a capital-P-person. She is a companion and co-creator and, in some texts enables God’s creation of the world. It seems to me that the sorting out more »

This Is My Body: The Womb of God

Christ: Our Mother, Our Brother, Our Savior [Title from Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love] I didn’t stay quite long enough in Hawaii to avoid the bread and circuses season of preaching that has “bread of life” texts padding our lectionary with metaphysical carbohydrates through the end of the summer. And having sat through more »

She Who Birthed Us

Before and during the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church I tweeted out a number of examples of feminine God-language and imagery from with the scriptures to demonstrate what new and revised liturgies could look like. I’ve decided to post the thread as a blog with the help of #unroll on threadreaderapp.com Thread by more »

Michal: Redux and Remix

For those of you who are interested in sermon craft, here is the revised form of my Michal sermon, Why Michael Rightly Despised David, edited for my Episcopal parish. The long form was preached at a WomanPreach event. Let us pray: In the name of the God who declares we are all worthy of love. Amen. more »

Why Michal Rightly Despised David

2 Samuel 6:16 As the ark of the Holy God came into the city of David, Michal bat Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Holy God; and she despised him in her heart… 23 And Michal bat Saul had no child to the day of her death. I heard more »

Holy Fire

The Church turns its attention to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. But we cannot turn to the Jerusalem of scripture, history, and memory and neglect the Jerusalem of the present moment, or those living and dying within and beyond her walls and call ourselves Church, Christians, or followers of Jesus. For, though the more »

Salaam, Shalom, Shanti

Salaam. Shalom. Shanti. Seek the shalom of Yerushalayim: and pray for the peace of Palestine. There are not enough words of peace in any language to bridge the lethal divides between human beings that were revealed again yesterday as Gazans continued to protest their confinement on what is essentially an intentionally starved under-resourced reservation while more »

The Shadows of Easter

Let us pray: In the name of the One who waded in the waters of Miryam’s womb, walked the way of suffering as one of the woman-born, and woke from the grasp of death in the deep darkness of the morning. Amen.   Easter is beautiful. The warmth of the vigil fire; the light of the more »

Biblical Studies in an Age of Unhooded White Supremacy

Invited lecture in response to white nationalist marches in Charlottesville. I, or rather my title, have misled you—if you were led at all: “Biblical Studies in an Age of Unhooded Racism.” White supremacy in biblical studies, like its get, racism, has never been hooded. Racism in the US has never been hooded. Racism in the more »

Wil Gafney talks about The Bible with Sarah Posner

Sarah Posner (Religion Dispatches, God's Profits) and Wil Gafney (WilGafney.com), from bloggingheads.tv | April 5, 2018 On The Posner Show, Sarah and Wil discuss the hit History Channel miniseries The Bible. Wil thinks the producers have done a good job with some elements, but critiques the series' erasure of women. She focuses in particular on Hagar, a more »

Strategies of Resistance: A Lesson From Daniel

  Teach us to use the power of our words to tell the story that liberates us all. Amen. There is more than one way to tell a story, especially a story as important as the Christian story; this also applies to the stories that make up our sacred stories. Today we explore that plurality more »

Strategies of Resistance: A Lesson From Daniel

Video from Brite Divinity School, 03.21.2018 Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible, delivered her sermon, "Strategies of Resistance: A Lesson From Daniel" on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at Brite Divinity School's Episcopal Eucharist Service.

A New Covenant, Enduring Faithfulness

In the name of the faithful God who has redeemed us, Amen. The days are surely coming, says the Holy One, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Jeremiah 31:31 It is almost impossible for Christians to not read the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 more »

Of God, Men, and Kings

  [Errata: Originally I confused Samuel’s sons with Eli’s. The manuscript is corrected below.] (Preached at the Schooler Institute on Preaching at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio) Let us pray: ברוכה את יה אלהינו לב העלם אשר שמה לב עלינו ושומעת קול לבינו רחמי עלינו וישמע קול דממה דקה Blessed are You, Yah our more »

Lectures on Womanist Midrash: Schooler Institute on Preaching

Methodist Theological School in Ohio, Schooler Institute on Preaching, 2/5 & 2/6/2018

Conspire With the Spirit

In the Name of the God who breathed us into life, breathes through us, and will return our breath to us at the resurrection. Amen. In beginning, when beginning, at origin… Our story begins with a word that takes us to the dawn of time. In beginning of what would become the world, God created, more »

Live Your Theology Out Loud in Public

Today is a commissioning service of sorts. [Hooding, conferral of academic hoods at Brite Divinity School, December 2017.] We confer degrees and the regalia that pertains to them to send you forth, forth across town, across the state, across an ocean, across the world, sometimes just around the corner, sometimes back to us for another more »

Did Mary Say “Me Too”?

You will conceive—in your womb—and you will give birth to a son…  Did the Blessed Virgin say, “me too”? There is a moment in the Annunciation story when an ordinary girl on the cusp of womanhood is approached by a powerful male figure who tells her what is going to happen to her body, in its more »

WOMANIST MIDRASH: A Reintroduction to the women of the Torah and the Throne podcast

WOMANIST MIDRASH: A Reintroduction to the women of the Torah and the Throne (with guest Hebrew Bible Scholar Rev. Wil Gafney) from Signposts (Formerly Lessons From Dead Guys), 11.22.2017 We have finally arrived at the season finale of our (Not So) Ordinary Time series. This week I am joined by the Rev. Wil Gafney, Hebrew more »

Extraordinary and Everyday Saints

See what love our Creator has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know God. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do more »

The Forehead of a Whore

#MeToo. I am one of the many, many women who have been targeted, touched, sexually harassed or assaulted and lived to tell the tale. But all of us did not survive our attackers. We were exposed to that which we did not want to see or touch, forced to experience that to which we did more »

The Bull in the Church Isn’t Idolatry

  Exodus 32:1-14 Moses came down from the mountain where he experienced the glory of God face to face to discover that there was some bull in the Israelite community. They were worshipping bull at the foot of God’s holy mountain. They had their bull all up in God’s face when they said, “These are more »

When Scripture is Violent

  I love the Hebrew Scriptures and their stories but I understand why some folk have a hard time with them, particularly as scripture. Many of these epic stories include epic episodes of violence, sometimes at the bequest of God, sometimes enacted by God. It is easy to treat these stories like novels, movies, or more »

LRR: Wil Gafney, Womanist Midrash

Liam Miller: Want the Podcast Version, find it at "Love Rinse Repeat" wherever you get your podcasts (or here). I sat down with Wil Gafney to talk about her new book Womanist Midrash: A Reintroduction to the Women of the Torah and the Throne. We discuss what drew her to the Hebrew Bible, play some more »

The Woman Who Changed Jesus

There are certain ways that the church tends to focus on the humanity of Jesus, especially at certain times of the year. I’ve just spent a week and Bethlehem and have Advent and Christmas on my mind. At Advent we marvel that the fullness of God could be contained in a tiny baby with clutching more »

Walled In

Today my friend and colleague took me on a tour of the wall around Bethlehem. The Israelis I spoke with on the interfaith listening trip said often only five percent of the wall—they prefer security fence or barrier—is a wall; the rest is a fence. In Bethlehem they say one hundred percent of the barrier more »

White Supremacy in the White House, in the Church, and in the Streets

Before folk start issuing calls for racial reconciliation… Again. No. Reconciliation is the culmination of a process that begins with conviction and leads to confession and contrition, public and private, followed by individual and communal repentance. Much like the stages of grief, these steps are not rigidly sequential, though some more easily presage others. Persons more »

Beginning in Bethlehem

I got the number of a cab company and crossed smoothly in to Bethlehem. In all honesty the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is more concerned with who comes out of the Palestinian Territories into to Israel than who goes in.  I arrived at the Diyar Consortium, a (Lutheran) church based organization that serves the people more »

Zionist, Settler, Israeli Stories

“Zionist” is regarded as a slur in many of the spaces in which I find myself. Settlers are regarded as (nearly) single-handedly destroying the peace process in those same spaces—inhabited by Jews as well as Muslins, Christians and non-religious folk. So it was a visceral shock to hear several of our speakers describe themselves as more »

Pilgrimage of Prayer

In between conversations and presentations I am going to the most sacred places in my faith, not as a scholar or priest, but as a pilgrim. My companions are my Anglican rosary gifted to me by a sister from my home church, the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas, and a silver medal with the more »

Holocausts and Memorials

The sheer scope of the evil manifested in the holocaust is nearly unimaginable. Today’s visit to Yad VaShem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem held the inhumanity of those who planned in meticulous detail to annihilate the Jews of Europe and began carrying out their unfathomable horror in the sharpest contrast with the fragile yet resilient more »

Tangled Threads

I am on what I call a deep listening tour in Israel and Palestine with Interfaith Partners for Peace. They have selected threads to weave together in conversation, each of which is connected to other threads, tangled, torn, frayed, yet still revealing shadows and shapes larger and more complex than the frames we have. Today more »

A Seat At The Table

Have a seat at the table. Whose table is it? Who is issuing the invitation? Can we have a meaningful conversation when one presumes they own the table and the other disputes that claim?  It may be that no one can sit at that table. We may have to sit somewhere else to figure out more »

Deep Listening

I am returning to a place I love, a place that breaks my heart: Jerusalem. It’s a complicated place with conflicting and contradictory stories. I am going to listen to some of those stories, as deeply as I can. I will bring my question, hopes, prayers, and beliefs with me. I will try to keep more »

Seasons of Sorrow

Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the month of Av, on the Jewish calendar marks a series of sorrows, most notably the multiple destructions of the temple in Jerusalem. It has always struck me as impoverishing that Christians neglect the story of the fall in the lectionary and in non-lectionary preaching as my students over more »

How Deep Is Your Love

Let us pray: God of love, teach us to love as you love. Amen. The Bee Gees, Dru Hill, Calvin Harris, and a few folk I’ve never heard of have all asked, “How deep is your love.” If they were to ask the biblical characters, more often than not the answer might seem be, “not more »

A New/Old Psalm of Lament

  If you don’t mind, I’m going to take some liberties with Psalm 13. How long Holy One? Will you forget us forever? How long will you let them kill us? How long will you let them deny us justice? How long O Lord? How long will you hide your face from us? From what more »

Exorcising America’s Murderous Demons

[In an earlier version the title was misspelled as “exercising.”] In the Name of the God who loves we who are hated, those who hate, and those whom we hate. Amen. Forty-nine. Forty-nine lives cut short. Forty-nine people murdered. Forty-nine souls martyred. Forty-nine of God’s children executed for living and loving out loud as gay, more »

Ascended to Where?

Open our eyes that we may see. Amen. We are here in no small part because of the power of the story Jesus. That power permeates the words of the story and extends far beyond them. It is a power that defies the rules of logic and science. The touchstone confessions of our faith are more »

She is God

Alleluia! Christ is risen! For fifty days the Jewish and Gentile Christians of the early church told the stories of Jesus, his life, his death and his life-from-death over and over. Jesus was raised from the dead as he said he would be. I imagine everyone knew someone who had seen him, touched him, broken more »

Confessing Christ and Christian Anti-Semitism

What do you believe? What do you believe about Jesus? What do you believe about the scriptures that tell his story? What do you believe about the God he proclaimed with his life and death and what happened after his death? What do you believe happened after his death? What do you believe? We will more »

When the Crucified Rise: A Black Lives Matter Easter Sermon

After the Sabbath… Those three little words can’t possibly convey the emotions of that morning. After the sleepless night that turned into a Sabbath that was anything but a day of rest… After another sleepless night that turned the Sabbath into mundane time on a day that was anything but mundane… After wrestling night and more »

Scripture Begets Scripture

Image: The Samaritan Torah Today’s lessons offer the perfect paradox for interpreters of scripture, Deut 4:2 You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it… The Samaritan Jews take this torah literally—do not add anything to the canon. So their bible, the Samaritan Pentateuch ends with Deuteronomy. There more »

Sunshine Cathedral Sermon 3rd Sunday in Lent

Sunshine Cathedral, Fort Lauderdale, FL, March 19, 2017

Thirsty

  You know you want it. You’re so thirsty. It’s all you can think about. You’re just thirsty. Some may know that the word thirst denotes much more than longing for water. It speaks of a deep craving, one might even say a carnal craving. Thirst is a primeval biological imperative. Thirst is a reminder more »

Smashing the Biblical Patriarchy

Gen 12:1 Now the Holy One said to Avram, “Get-you-gone from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great. Now, be a blessing! 3 I will bless more »

Jesus Rewrites Scripture and So Can We

Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said [this one thing]…but I say unto you [this other thing].” Y’all, Jesus is changing the bible! Not that there was a bible in his day or later when the gospels were being written, but there were scriptures: loose, separate scrolls, a very few with more than more »

Resistance Is Not Futile

Resistance is Not Futile #Resist. There was a man who rose to great power and became very wealthy along the way. He expected his whims to be met with instant acquiescence and held grudges against those who did not comply. He kept lists of his enemies and used his power to destroy those who defied more »

Choose Your Messiah Carefully

JESUS MAFA. The first two disciples, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. John 1:41 Andrew first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). We have found the Messiah. When we read these words, their meaning is clear more »

Hidden Figures/Exposed Inequities

I loved Hidden Figures and cheered throughout and cried at the end. It was powerful. Go and see it and take your children. One my favorite images in the movie was Octavia Spencer as Vaughan under her car in full mechanic mode laying on a tarp with her lovely pump clad legs sticking out from more »

Are You My Sister?

Update: The image (below) I first used for the post was apparently altered by someone else without my knowledge. The original is above. I have decided to keep both. The truth is I and meany others understand “great” in the Trumpian context to mean “white.” My bones ache with the memories of white women’s betrayal more »

America, Amerika, Amerikkka

America has revealed its true colors. Its core values are racism, sexism, misogyny, Islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia. White folk, look to your uncles and aunties, sons and sisters. You have heard their jokes around your tables and left them unchallenged. They are you. These are your values. Misanthropy is a pitiful rallying cry. The fall of more »

Interpreting the Bible in a Non-Biblical World

Elections are unbiblical. That’s all right because not everything biblical is godly. Too often I hear the adjective “biblical” used uncritically as a synonym for good, right, and the will of God. The desire to affirm what is biblical comes from a good place, love of the text and love of the One who inspired more »

Faith without Faithfulness is Faithlessness

God has told you, children of earth, what is good. And what does the Holy One require of you? To do justice, love faithfully, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8) James 2:14 Of what benefit is it, my sisters and brothers, if you say you have faith but do not have works? more »

Gender, Poverty and the Bible

Sexual Politics and the Surveillance of Black Bodies: Implications for Gender & Poverty, a downhill at Friendship West Baptist Church sponsored by Brite Divinity School and Columbia University.

Love God Herself

2016_10_20 Wil Gafney from Candler School of Theology on Vimeo. Yes, I am black! and radiant– O city women watching me– As black as Kedar’s goathair tents Or Solomon’s fine tapestries. Will you disrobe me with your stares? The eyes of many morning suns Have pierced my skin, and now I shine Black as the more »

“Love God Herself” – Service of Word and Table Sermon

Video from Candler School of Theology, 10.18.2016 The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Associate Professor of the Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School, delivers a sermon titled "Love God Herself" on October 18, 2016 in William R. Cannon Chapel. Sponsored by the Black Church Studies program of Candler School of Theology.

Pray Like There’s A God Who Hears

As I prepared today’s sermon I found I could not get past the first verse: Jesus told a parable about the need to pray and not lose heart. Jesus told this parable because he knows we need to pray. We need to pray. Full stop. We need to pray. We need it. God doesn’t need more »

St. Francis, Monsters and #BlackLivesMatter

Francis of Assisi was a rich, spoiled young man who liked to drink and dropped out of school. He daydreamed of being a heroic knight and went off to war in fancy armor that saved his life—not by deflecting blows but by marking him as someone who could be held for a ransom. It was more »

Being Black In Public Is Exhausting

Being black in public is exhausting. I don’t know that I can do it this week. Public laments take their toll. Being seen, counted and representing is costly in currency that is not easily replaced or renewed. I live with the reality of being black all day every day. I can do without the performative more »

Matrix of Privilege

  We gather on a day when the ugliness of humanity is on full display in our world. You may feel as I do at times that there is nothing we can do to fix, to heal our world. We cannot prevent people halfway around the world, across the nation or here at home from more »

Unbreaking Her Body

Luke 13:10 Now Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. 11 And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had ailed her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, more »

#What2Preach When Blood Is Running in the Street?

On 14 December 2012 (my father’s birthday) I posted an angry tweet about pastors who didn’t know what to say in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting sit down rather than preach something stupid like God needed more angels. Someone asked me what to preach instead, a serious question as they were struggling with more »

Prayer for Police Officers

I am praying for police officers of all races and ethnicities today. I am praying that they who are so brave in the face violence, anticipated and unanticipated, criminality, terrorism and the unknown would be so brave when they see their sister and brother officers of every race and ethnicity violate the civil and human more »

Biblical Biases

(This is an attempt to recreate the sermon I preached today, 12 June 2016, commemorating the homophobic terrorist attack that killed 50 and wounded 53 at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando FL.) As we pray for living and the dead let us also offer a word of consolation to God whose heart is broken as more »

Returning to our ROOTS

I admit that I was disturbed at the news of a ROOTS remake, particularly at the hands of the History Channel that did such violence to the Bible in its whitewashed fan-fiction offering. I was somewhat mollified when I heard LeVar Burton was one of the folk behind it. Then I read Awesomely Luvvie’s (Luvvie more »

Who Are You Calling A Whore?

Video from Teresa Fry-Brown Women's Preaching Institute, 05.23.2016 The Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. She is the author of Daughters of Miriam: Women Prophets in Ancient Israel and co-editor of The Peoples’ Bible and The Peoples’ Companion to the Bible. She is more »

Remixed Gospel of Rahab: Who Are You Calling A Whore

Most of the sermon can be viewed here: facebook.com/wil.gafney/posts/10209498062188831 Joshua 2:1 Yehoshua ben Nun, Joshua the son of Nun, sent from Shittim two men, spies, secretly saying, “Go, survey the land including Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a woman, a sex-selling woman, a prostitute, a harlot, a whore, a ‘ho – more »

Naming and Numbering: God of Many Names on Trinity Sunday

Updated for Trinity Sunday 2016. (These were the lessons in 2012 when I preached the sermon.) Let us pray: Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. It was a set-up. Yeshayahu, Isaiah was set up. God set Isaiah up. Isaiah was minding his own business. He was asleep and dreaming. Or more »

Between Babel and Babble: Pentecost

Let us pray: Holy Spirit, transform us, our hearts and our homes, the Church and the world. Amen. The Church! The Church! The Church is on fire! We don’t need no water let the Holy Spirit burn! Pentecost is dramatic. It’s noisy. And it is Episcopalian. We are a Pentecostal church, but we tend to be more »

Tabitha’s Story Before & After Her Resurrection

In the name of God who loves us, who is Love and bids us love one another. Amen. May I tell you the truth? As a Hebrew Bible scholar I’m always offended that in some parts of Easter and Pentecost the scriptures of Jesus are declared dispensable and replaced with the Acts of the Apostles. more »

Shall We Kill Him? A Reflection on the Death Penalty

Leviticus 24:13 The Holy One of Sinai said to Moses, saying: 14 Take the blasphemer outside the camp; and let all who were within hearing lay their hands on his head, and let the whole congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying: Anyone who curses God shall bear the sin. 16 more »

A Lament for Violence

Holy Wednesday Sermon In the Name of God who hears our cries, bear our tears on her wings and empowers us to dry each other’s tears. Amen. Today is a day for lament, even though we will celebrate the Eucharist. The lessons call for lament. The state of the world calls for lament. The state more »

White Supremacy In the Church

Some thoughts on white supremacy in the church (excerpted from my Lenten presentation at the Church of the Transfiguration on Dallas). Whiteness has been equated with Christianity and civilization so that to be Christian was to be civilized when the only Christianity that was recognized was white Christianity. Our religious language in and out of more »

Christ Our Mother

Image credit:  Christa by Edwina Sandys Let us pray: God of our mothers, Hagar, Sarah and Keturah, fold us under the shelter of your wings with all your children of every race and every faith. Amen. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have more »

Black and Christian: An MLK Day Sermon

Let us pray: God who dreams in flesh and blood, teach us to respond to the cries of your people with justice, compassion and unfailing hope. Amen. God told Moses to say: I have heard the cry of the Israelites and I have seen how the Egyptians oppress them, press them, squeeze them. Exodus 3:9 more »

Slaughter of the Innocents: A Lament for Tamir

We are a nation that kills children. We are a nation whose protectors do not protect children. We are a nation whose justice system does not render justice for children. We failed Tamir. We failed Ayanna. We failed the children of Newtown. We failed every child shot since Newtown. We failed the multitudes of children more »

Embracing the Light & the Darkness in the Age of Black Lives Matter

Madonna and Child, Laura James Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. In the beginning… Those words mark the beginning of the story of our faith. In the beginning God… At the birth of all things when nothing yet was birthed, there was God pregnant with all creation. In the more »

What If Jesus Doesn’t Return

What if Jesus doesn’t come back? We are waiting. And we have been waiting. We have ritualized our waiting, renewing it every Advent. But what if Jesus doesn’t come back? I think perhaps it shouldn’t matter. Our wait is not idle. We work while we wait. Our world is broken and we are mending it. more »

Terror and Despair

The earth is utterly broken. I have been praying for a long time. I have been praying for a just and peaceful end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and for safety and security for Israeli and Palestinian people for longer than I can say. I have been praying for peace in the Middle East on more »

Weeping With Jerusalem

Just stop it! This rash of stabbings and vehicle assaults must end. So too must the occupation and explosion of settlements which fuels some of this rage. There must be a just peace in Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine in whatever configuration. That means the cessation of all violence in all of its forms: terroristic actions by more »

When Your Womb Hurts You

Womanists love their wombs. It seems whenever I’m in womanist space women are talking about, talking to, laying hands on their wombs, our wombs, my womb. But you don’t know my womb or its story. And it’s not just my womb or my story. Today I’m going to speak to and for wombs that hurt, more »

Love. Sex. Money. Power. Death.

Love. Sex. Money. Power. Death. All of these things are present in and behind our lessons, particularly the first two, especially if you know where to look. Let us look with eyes wide open at the treasure house of the scriptures and see what they have to say to us across the expanse of time, more »

Solomon’s Interfaith Prayer

1 Kings 8:41 And, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, when such a one comes from a faraway land because of your Name— 42 For they shall hear of your great Name, and your powerful hand and your outstretched arm—when a foreigner comes and prays toward this house, 43 you, you more »

Blogging In The Closet

The world is on fire. Black women and men are being slaughtered in the street, in jail and in church. Some of the country is talking about race out loud and in meaningful ways. Some mainline denominations are following suit – not leading. Eavesdropping on a couple of these conversations brought me back to the more »

Spike’s Tut: An Honest Fiction

Disclaimer: I have no hate-snark for Tut. Read at your own risk! I first became aware of Spike's miniseries TUT surfing for streaming media to watch while resting an injured knee.  Given the whitewash of the ancient world in projects for the large and small screen in recent years I had low expectations and decided more »

Bathsheba & Black Lives Matter

Our first lesson could easily be and should be translated: 2 Sam 11:4 David sent emissaries to kidnap Bathsheba and she came to him then he raped her. Then she cleansed herself from her defilement and returned to her house. 5 [After some time] the woman conceived; and she sent and told David, “I am more »

She Washed My Feet

Foot washing is a sacred ritual in many black churches. Most often done as part of Maundy Thursday services in Holy Week, some churches wash feet before each communion service. The practice stems from the gospels, from Jesus himself, what he did, instituted and commanded and what was done to him. (Janice Hughes, artist) John 13:3 more »

We Have Already Redefined Marriage

(Saints Serge and Bacchus being united by Christ in what many consider a same sex marriage. For more read John Boswell’s controversial and provocative Same-Sex Union in Pre-Modern Europe.) I’d like to think that by now most folk know that biblical marriage includes rape, abduction, forced pregnancy and surrogacy and polygamy. I’ve lectured and written on more »

When You Slaughter Us You Slaughter God

We should not have to tell you, we should not have to teach you, that we are the very image of God. You should see God when you see us. But you worship a pale deformed perversion of God that mirrors your biases. I find myself saying again: We affirm that black lives matter and are more »

Black Girl Bodies

400 years of white male abuse of black girls and women is written in this image. pic.twitter.com/YfMYkOXqXR — Wil Gafney (@WilGafney) June 7, 2015 There are somethings you will never know if you don’t have a black-girl-body, if you are not or have not been a black girl or woman. Here’s what too many of more »

Pentecost: Something Old, Something New

My farewell sermon at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. (I decided to publish this unchanged because I believe this is a fit word for today.) I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your daughters and your sons shall prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your elder men shall more »

Church in A World that Kills

[Holding the Ethiopian Israelis in prayer as they fight racism in their country. Their uprising came after I finished the sermon.] The Psalmist cried out: God did not despise or detest the affliction of the afflicted. God did not hide God’s face from me. God heard when I cried out to God. That doesn’t always more »

Call the Wailing Women to Weep for Us

Death is in the house. My ancestors sang it like this: ‘Soon one morning, death come creepin’ in my room, ‘Soon one morning, death come creepin’ in my room, ‘Soon one morning, death come creepin’ in my room. That morning is today. And yesterday. And tomorrow. Death is in the house. So it is time to call for more »

Translating Iron Age Prophets into a Digital Age

Images of the prophet Huldah by Rabbi Me’ira Iliinsky and (photo) James Lewis A recent conversation between two leading public intellectuals has brought renewed attention to the ways in which we, pastors, preachers, academics, activists, commentators and the public at large use the lexicon of the prophetic to define our work or the work of more »

Meet The Browns: A Wedding Homily

Dear ones, you are God’s chosen ones; you are God’s choice. God chose you and chooses you. And you. And you. And me. Being “the elect of God” as some translations have it is not about being chosen over someone else as when lovers choose each other over all others and proclaim that choice with more »

Who Says These Are God’s Words

Video from Diocese of Fort Worth, 04.16.2015 Poesis: A Womanist Hermeneutic of Biblical Translation - Who Says These Are God's Words The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney's Inaugural Address, Brite Divinity School, April 14, 2015

ReWriting, ReMembering the Resurrection

According to Mark: After the sabbath Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. They also saw a young man dressed in a white robe. The stone had already been rolled away. According to Matthew:  After the sabbath at first light, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the more »

Faithful Thomas

Today’s Gospel focuses on St. Thomas who is significant to me for many reasons: My home church in Philly is St. Thomas. It is a very special St. Thomas, the first Episcopal Church formed by and for persons of African descent, dating from 1792. The African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas is one of the more »

Resurrected: The Bible Continues

Premiering on Easter Sunday, AD the Bible Continues needs must go through the cross and the empty tomb (again). ;The Resurrection is at the heart of the Christian faith. It is borne witness to in the theological discourses of the earliest Christian writing, the Epistles, followed by narrative accounts in the four Gospels that were eventually more »

AD the Bible (Redux)

After the epic whitewash that was the History Channel’s The Bible Series Produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, I had no intention of watching their latest installation, AD the Bible Continues, focusing on the book of Acts (of the Apostles). In the publicity build-up to the premier, the producers emphasized the casting of a number of more »

The Color Purple: A Lenten Sermon

 As we begin our Lenten pilgrimage, my theme is the borrowed title of Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple. Because I do believe that “it pisses God off if you pass by the color purple and don’t even notice,” I chose a text that I know no one ever preaches for Lent, if at more »

Trans In the Image of God

I remember hearing a gay Jewish man chant in prayer: I am a gay man and I am created in the image of God.

I was profoundly moved. I thought, “Of course. Who could dare say else? Why haven’t I heard/thought this before?” To be clear, I had no doubt that my lesbian and gay sisters and brothers were in fact created in the image of God. I just wasn’t hearing it proclaimed in worship. Thankfully that changed. And I became one of those voices sharing in that proclamation.

Lent Is Coming

Lent is coming and I am almost out of laments – and I do not want any more. Lent is coming and I do not want to spend any time in self-reflection because the world is on fire. Lent is coming and I can’t focus on my personal frailties and foibles because people are being more »

A Sermon on Jonah: Turn That Motha Out!

Sunshine Cathedral, Fort Lauderdale, FL, January 25, 2015

Turn That Motha Out

(Image of Assyrians torturing Israelites from Lachish, 6th century BCE Turn That Motha Out Jonah 3:1 The word of the FAITHFUL ONE came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2 “Get up, get yourself to Nineveh, that great city and proclaim to it the proclamation that I speak to you.” 4 Jonah…  preached and said, more »

Ask A Womanist Biblical Scholar

It was my pleasure to be interviewed for Rachel Held Evans’ Ask A… series. Please visit her site for the conversation.

A Very Violent Christmas

Even without the litany of horrors that have made 2014 a year to forget if we could – hundreds of Nigerian girls abducted, sold and raped into slave marriages, their teachers and male classmates slaughtered, a plane with all souls aboard inconceivably disappeared into thin air, another plane from the same airline is shot down more »

Protest Prayer

God of Justice who declared black lives matter at the dawn of creation by scooping up a handful of black earth with which to craft humanity in the image of divinity, We thank you that our radiant blackness is neither accidental nor incidental to your glory. We join you Holy One, in your lament for more »

A Gospel of Policing: Serve with Integrity

Luke 3:14 Soldiers Police officers asked John the Baptizer, God’s servant, “And we, what should we do (since we have been moved by the Gospel to be baptized)?” S/he said to them, “Serve with integrity.”* *Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages. When I was an army more »

Statement on Non-Indictment

I am proud to have co-authored this statement with my colleague Dr. Keri Day on behalf of the Black Church Studies program and Faculty of Brite Divinity School: The Black Church Studies program at Brite Divinity School, along with administrators and members of the faculty, lament the recent decision by the Grand Jury not to more »

StayWokeAdvent

A reading for Advent and a meditation: Isaiah 59:7 Their feet run to evil and they hasten to pour out innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, violence and brokenness are in their highways. 8 The path of peace they do not know and there is no justice in their pathways. Their courses they more »

Who Are You Calling A Whore?

Joshua 2:1 Yehoshua ben Nun, Joshua the son of Nun, sent from Shittim two men, spies, secretly saying, “Go, survey the land including Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a woman, a sex-selling woman, a prostitute, a harlot, a whore, a ‘ho – her name was Rachav, Rahab – and they lay more »

Turning Tables Teach-In Christian Responses to Racialized Violence

Updated! J. K. Gayle’s response to my address interweaving my (much) earlier work on translation theory as it pertains to the scriptures from a black feminist perspective. Live recording from 22 Sept 2014 including my talk: Turning Tables and Snatching Wigs: A Biblical Response to Ferguson and Forney

Hildegard: Life-Giving Language for Liturgy

A Liturgy and brief homily in honor of the Feast of Hildegard of Bingen, 17 September Collect: O Fire of Love by whose grace your servant Hildegard, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love more »

Summer of Horror

Girls, black like me, abducted to be sex slaves and not for the first time, not for the last time. Tweet this Abandoned to their fate, all but forgotten. It looks like no one will #BringBackOurGirls. Some of them have brought themselves back. Hundreds of people lost on a flight and then again hundreds more lost more »

The Racist Soil of Ferguson MO

(Photo: Reuters) It’s in the soil. It’s in the air. It’s in the water. It’s as American as apple pie. Racism perfuses the soil and soul of Ferguson MO as it does everywhere in these (dis)United States and the Western world. click to tweet It is our legacy and the stuff shaping the building blocks of more »

Sermon, June 2014

Video from 06.25.2014

Road Trippin’

Between Tuesday and Thursday last week I drove one thousand six hundred and eighty miles to move immigrate to Fort Worth, Texas. The plan was that Dad and I would rent a vehicle for the stuff the professional movers shouldn’t/couldn’t move – like the cats and all their accessories – and tow my car. What more »

Making It Plain: Biblical Bible Study

From Nehemiah 8, verses 2 and 8: …So Ezra the priest brought the Teaching before the assembly, both women and men and all who could hear with understanding… they read from the scroll, from the Teaching of God, making it plain. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. [Watch sermon here] more »

Evolution of Hell

By request, repost of 2008 blog (now defunct) on literary evolution of Hell in the bible: In the synoptic Gospels, Hell is usually described as a realm of fire, a place that seemingly judges and punishes at the same time, (Matthew 5:22, 29–30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5). The most more »

When Mother is the Hardest Word

My ancestors passed down this lament: Sometimes I feel like a motherless chile, Sometimes I feel like a motherless chile, Sometimes I feel like a motherless chile, A long way from home. Sometimes mother is the hardest word. Sometimes mother is a curse word ~ not the object of a profane expression, but the subject. more »

A Lamentation For Our Daughters

This is a wailing; and it shall be wailed. The women of the world shall wail it. Over Nubia and all its nations they shall wail it, says the SOVEREIGN God. Ezekiel 32:16 My Lament My eyes grieve continually for the souls of all the daughters who are raped. My eyes grieve continually for the more »

Who Gives This Woman? Patriarchal Marriage

For many, marriage is a sacrament or a covenant given by God, an institution that is rooted in love and gives rise to more love through the interweaving of families and sometimes the nurture of children. For many of my conversation partners in the past three weeks, the notion that trafficked girls could be sold more »

Trafficked into Marriage

Today black women in the United States and perhaps some of our allies are wearing geles, traditional West African head wraps like those worn in Nigeria to call attention to the hundreds of our daughters, kidnapped and sold like the Israelite daughters at Shiloh more than three thousand years ago. Some folk still have not more »

Lessons From Passover: A Farewell Sermon

Open the doors of our hearts. Open the doors of our hearts to the word we would hear and the word we would not. Open the doors of our hearts. Open the doors of our hearts to those whom it is easy to love and those who it is not. Open the doors of our more »

Raising the Walking and Rotting Dead

(A sermon remix.) Ezekiel sees zombies, the walking dead. Lazarus is wrapped up like a mummy. To the rotting dead and walking dead the living God speaks a living word: …hear the word of the Holy God…I will cause spirit-breath to come into you and you shall live. Let us pray: Open our eyes that more »

Noah in Genesis, Enoch & White Imagination

Using sources in Genesis, the books of Enoch – which are scriptural in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church – and his own interpretive imagination, Darren Aronofsky has given the world a new vision of the Noah story. His vision is eclipsed by its blinding whiteness, (see my take on his white savior saving a world full more »

Black Like Me: Erased from the Noah Movie

I pay attention to the peopling of the world in the vision filmmakers. I want to know if there are people like me in their worlds, people of African descent, people of color. In Darren Aronofsky’s vision of Noah and his world I do not exist. People like me do not exist. Black, brown and more »

Shalom Miryam, Hail Mary

A miracle happened today. We will see it in nine months on Christmas Day. In reflection an Annunciation sermon (from 2004). [On this day when people are arguing for the right to prevent women from accessing health services under the rubric of birth control (and abortion) because of their own religious biases, I am mindful more »

Women of the Word: Women Prophets

2014 Susan Draper White Lectures at the United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, New Brighton, MN. The talk is based on my book Daughters of Miriam and previews the approach in my forthcoming book Womanist Midrash.

Having A Holy, Cranky, Lent

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection…I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word… I usually more »

‘Hood Theology

You shall be called the repairer of brokenness, the restorer of neighborhood streets. Let us pray: Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. (sermon audio here) Free at last! Free last! Thank God almighty we’re free at last! Our people are free. We have the right to vote. One of us more »

The Torah-Observant Virgin Mary

A sermon on the Purification of the Virgin Mary from Luke 2:22-39 Hymn of Preparation: “Home,” from the Wiz. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. For good and for ill, there’s no place like home. Sometimes we just want to go home. Sometimes we just want more »

Yo, You Are Not the Father: A Meditation on St. Joseph

St. Joseph, Patron Saint of Fathers Patron Saint of Step-Fathers Patron Saint of Adoptive Fathers Patron Saint of Dead-Beat Dads   Every year during Christmas and Advent, I think about St. Joseph. I remember a sermon I heard from his perspective more than a decade ago. The preacher-man was saying how hard it is for more »

The Magnificat as Kedushat HaShem: Sanctifying God’s Name

God has shown strength with God’s arm; God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. God has brought down the powerful from their thrones,  and lifted up the lowly; God has filled the hungry with good things,  and sent the rich away empty. God has helped God’s servant Israel, in remembrance of more »

Israelite & Jewish Identity in Black & White: Shabbat Vayigash

*Vayigash Mandela. Mandela stood. And now he is at rest. I dedicate this drash to the memory of Rolihlahla, Nelson, Mandela, Madiba. (Vayigash, “he stood,” is the first word of today’s Torah portion, Gen 44:18-47:27.) Ex 46:20 To Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath bat Potiphera, priest of On, gave birth more »

Walking in the Light of God with the Son of Woman

From Isaiah: Come, let us walk in the light of the Living God. From Matthew: The Son of Woman is coming at an unexpected hour. Let us pray: Brukhah at Yah HaShekhinah eloheteinu Malkat HaOlam she’astah nisim le’imoteynu vela’avoteynu bayamim hahem bazman hazeh. Blessed are You Holy One our God, Sovereign of Eternity, who performed miracles more »

Black and Beautiful and Sunburned

 (By request) “Can you tan?” “Do you burn?” Assumptions about the normatively and inherent value of whiteness – “fair” being light and attractive – are imposed on me as a black woman every day, living in a white supremacist society. I am regularly asked to give an account of my presumptively alternate biology, imagined to be fundamentally more »

Torah In Our Midst (Again): A New Covenant

“Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney, Associate Professor of Hebrew and Jewish and Christian Scripture and, Chair of the Biblical Area at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia: You’re fired.” Let us pray. (Click here for sermon audio.) Blessed are you, Holy One our God, Sovereign of the universe,
who has chosen faithful prophets to speak words of more »

New-Old Ways of Teaching: Rabbis & Rabbits

My first experience with hevruta, a companion in learning with whom to study Hebrew and Aramaic biblical and rabbinic texts was in graduate school. When I joined the faculty at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia I was delighted to be able introduce my students to the concept and be able to partner with Rabbis Nancy more »

Are You There God? It’s Me & Habakkuk

With the prophet I say: Habakkuk 1:2 How long, Holy One, shall I howl for help, and you will not hear? Cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3 Why do you make me see iniquity and compel me to look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; litigation and contention arise. more »

When Seminary Messes With Your Simple Faith

[The image is courtesy of Karen Whitehill, a digital collage in which she superimposes the heads of vintage stars over the Last Supper by Juanes. Many thanks for her gracious permission.]     Jesus told a parable like this (in Luke 13:6-9): A woman had a fig tree planted in her vineyard; and she came more »

Why Pray for Peace?

We pray not because we believe it is magic, not because we are certain that God will do what we ask, but because we can and we must. The world’s burdens are too great and too many for any of us to bear, its problems impossible in our strength, knowledge and capacity. We pray knowing more »

Preaching A Feminist Faith From Priscilla’s Epistle

Download the audio mp3 A great cloud of witnesses surrounds us… Let us pray: Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. If your preacher preached about faith last week, she or he might have ended with, “To be continued…” The more than forty verses in Hebrews 11 and the beginning more »

Subversive Service: Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”

Dear Mr. Daniels, I had the great pleasure of meeting you during one of your visits to the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in the company of your mother whose ministries in music and service have enriched my life as a congregant and as a priest. I had the tremendous pleasure of seeing your more »

On Biblical Literalism

I was invited to participate in a forum on Creationism in the NY Times. You can find the whole conversation here. (Note that a subscription is required after 10 free articles a month. Here is my contribution: Biblical literalism usually emerges from a faithful impulse, deeply meaningful faith in God, Jesus and scripture in Christian more »

Believe God: Listen to the Voices in Your Heart & Head

Download the audio mp3 Genesis 15:6, Abraham trusted in God… Hebrews 11:1, Faith is the essence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen… 3 By faith we understand… Let us pray: Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. I believe I can fly  I believe I can more »

Hosea’s Mothering God: Back to Egypt

Listen to the recording (mp3 file) Hosea 11:3 I, I taught Ephraim to walk,  I took them up in my arms; yet they did not know that I healed them. 4 I pulled them along with humane restraint,  with ties of love. And I was to them like those who lift babies to their cheeks, more »

Dont Ask Me How I Am

Don’t ask me how I am if you don’t want to know. If you can’t handle it. If you will need me to help you understand. Just don’t ask. You know how I am. How we are. I am not ok. We are not ok. I am not safe. We are not safe. I am more »

Moses & His Lady (Who Is Also His Lord)

Shabbat B’ha’alotkha 25 May 2013/16 Sivan 5773 בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ  בְּהַעֲלֹתְךָ “When you set up (the stuff)…” There’s a lot of stuff in this parsha. The purpose of this setting up in 8:1 is to give light, so too I hope will this drash. Let’s shine the light on some of the stuff in the text. First more »

Savaging Women (and Men)

The festering scab of our rape epidemic has been ripped off (again), revealing the festering flesh underneath. Women and girls snatched off the street and held in chains for years as sex slaves; predators talking their way into the homes of struggling single mothers for access to their children; male soldiers and defense contractors raping more »

Rewriting the Bible, Me & the History Channel

I am a womanist, feminist, post-colonial, transgressive, progressive biblical scholar. I am liberal about the love of God and conservative about translation issues (like lexical fidelity). And I have been accused of rewriting the bible on more than one occasion, see Rewriting the Bible: the Gospel According to Liberals where I’m in good company. That is something more »

Crucifixion and Sexual Violence

On this Good Friday as on many before, I consider anew the full range of torture and humiliation to which Jesus of Nazareth was subjected, physical and sexual. The latter is so traumatizing for the Church that we have covered it up – literally – covering Jesus’ genitals on our crucifixes. But the Romans (and more »

Whitewashing Jesus’ Judaism

We begin with the simple historical fact that Jesus was a Jew… It is impossible for Jesus to be understood outside of the sense of community which Israel held with God… The Christian Church has tended to overlook its Judaic origins, but the fact is that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew of Palestine when more »

How Patriarchy Almost Destroyed America

Olympus Has Fallen was a fabulous movie! I loved it. I didn’t realize that it was an Antoine Fuqua film until the end. but I wasn’t surprised. I have enjoyed most of his movies. There are always these twists that get me thinking…[SPOILER ALERT] The Secretary of Defense, Ruth McMillian played by Melissa Leo had more »

H.A.M. Hard As a Mother (In Israel)

[I prepared this meditation for the Logan Legacy Prayer Breakfast, celebrating the life and legacy of the Rev. Canon Thomas Wilson Stearly Logan, the longest lived priest of African descent in the Episcopal Church who died at the age of 100, at the request of the committee who assigned me the theme of “Engendering Prophecy” more »

Erased By the History Channel

One thing for sure, the History Channel’s mini-series has people watching, talking and blogging. But are people reading the bible? Some are I think. I hope that this series leads to deeper and richer conversations with and about the text than are possible in any multi-media production. I’d like to see folk read the narratives more »

History Channel’s Satan and President Obama

Many viewers of the History Channel’s Bible mini-series saw and see a resemblance between the character of Satan and President Barack Obama. Comparison photos such as the one above are circulating on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. The History Channel denies any resemblance and any attempt to pattern the character after the President. more »

Jesus’ Bible and the History Channel’s Bible

The third episode of the History Channel’s ratings-shattering series, The Bible, moves from the Israelite scriptures of Judaism and Christianity to the New Testament added by Christians to the canon we share with Judaism. I have previously responded to some of the issues of the series here and here and here. Today I’d like to reflect more »

Habemus Papam ~ The World Has a Pope

Habemus Papam! We have a Pope!  Does that we include me? I argue yes. Not that Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic Pontiff is my Pope or even Pope of the world. He is certainly not the world’s only Pope. Pope Tawadros II, the beloved Coptic Pope is Francis’ rare peer.  Yet Pope Francis is in some sense more »

icanhasgozpel, race, gender & me

Pastor Chris Tiedeman discusses the History Channel’s much ballyhooed miniseries on the Bible, its constructions of race and gender and my take on it.

Response to Bible Series Sermons

[Update: Their final response to which I will not respond further.] I have been responding to the History Channel's The Bible mini-series. Much of that response has been in the form of critique here and on twitter. One series of tweets and my most recent blog post generated a response from Rodney Sampson, Executive Producer of more »

Black Samson & White Women on the History Channel

The History Channel’s miniseries on the Bible is a ratings blockbuster. The Bible is an incredibly important text in the history and culture of the United States and Western world, and has its roots in the Eastern world. One would think that the media outlet that entitled itself the “History Channel” would be concerned about those more »

History Channel (Whitewashes) The Bible – Day 1 (3/3/2013)

The History Channel debuted the first episode of its 10-part series on the bible on 3/3/13. It was widely watched and reported as the ratings winner for its time slot. As a biblical scholar and seminary professor (who had been called early in the production but did not work on the project) I tuned in more »

Say My Name: Quvenzhané Wallis

(I inadvertantly mispelled Quvenzhané in the earlier version of this post affecting the text in the link. I have corrected it in the post I sincerly apologize to her and to her family.) A black girl-child must be the most fearsome thing in the world based on how hard so many adults in the juggernaut of more »

Beyoncé & Absalom Jones: Love on Top, Not on Lock

Baby, I need you to hold this for me. Baby, just say that it’s yours. Baby, you got my love on lock. Here, “locked” equals “locked down.” And for far too many women that means being locked up. Baby, I can’t go back there. Baby, I’ve already got three strikes. Baby, women’s prison is soft more »

Mardis Gras on the Mountaintop: The Transfiguration

Luke 9:28 … Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. [Audio link to sermon available here] Now, let us pray: Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. Luke 9:28 Now about eight days after saying, “23…If any want to become my more »

Great Balls of Fire: Parshat Yitro, Haftarah

Great Balls of Fire! There is a single piece of text that directly connects Jewish and Christian liturgy:  קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת מְלֹא כָל־הָאָרֶץ כְּבוֹדוֹ׃ Holy, holy, holy, is the Sovereign-Commander of angel-armies; the whole earth is full of God’s glory. Isaiah 6:3 is not only part of weekly Shabbat and Sunday liturgies in more »

Blessed Martin, Pastor Prophet

  Blessed Martin, Pastor Prophet Westminster Abbey 1. Holy God, you raise up prophets, Praise and honor do we sing. For your faithful, humble servant, Doctor Martin Luther King. Refrain: Blessed Martin, pastor, prophet, You the mountaintop did see; Blessed Martin, holy martyr: Pray that we may all be free. 2. Moral conscience of his more »

Rape Culture, God and the Bible

Rape is at the forefront of our civil discourse in ways it has not been in my memory or experience: A young woman raped to the point of death in India has been the focus of international media. During the run up to the presidential election Rep. Todd Akin articulated his belief in legitimate and more »

Shabbat Va’era: (Re)Writing Torah and History

‏ ‏ וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אֲנִי יְהוָה׃ וָאֵרָא אֶל־אַבְרָהָם אֶל־יִצְחָק וְאֶל־יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי וּשְׁמִי יְהוָה לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם׃ God spoke to Moshe, and said to him: I am YHWH.  I was seen (va’era) by Avraham, by Yitzhak, and by Yaakov as God Shaddai, but by my name YHWH I was not known to them. Exodus 6:2 more »

Yeshua ben Miryam, the Son of Woman

This Epiphany as we reflect on the ways in which Jesus the Messiah is revealed I celebrate that his life giving Body and Blood were consubstantiated in the Virgin’s womb and that he is Son of God, Son of Woman and Child of Earth. While hailed as the Son of David, Jesus is also the more »

Shabbat Shemoth

Exodus 1:1 These are the names (shemoth) of the sons of Yisra’el who came into Egypt with Ya‘akov… Baniym can of course mean “sons” or “children” and usually I err on the side of inclusion. But in this text, it is clear that only male progeny are indicated, demonstrated by the list of names that follow. more »

When the Shadow of Death Touches Christmas

Let us pray: Come thou Wisdom from on high and order all things far and nigh To us the path of knowledge show and cause us in Her ways to go. Amen. It was for the author of the gospel attributed to John as if time had stopped and started all over again. Or been more »

The Bible and the Second Amendment

As I have listened to folk talking about “the right to bear arms,” it has struck me that they are treating those words (and the Constitution) as scripture. What would happen if we applied the principles of sound biblical exegesis to the Second Amendment? For starters we’d have to take seriously the contexts – literary, more »

Letter to My Enslaved Ancestors on the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

A Letter to My Enslaved Ancestors, I don’t know your names or from where you were stolen. I don’t know how many of you freed yourselves or died in bondage. Yet I claim you all and I honor you. The savage ferocity of slavery has torn your names from the memories of your descendants but more »

#What2Preach In the Aftermath of the Sandy Hook Massacre: A Tweet Chat

I found my self advising preachers, pastors and priests on what not to say about God in relationship to the savage atrocity at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012 in which twenty children and six adults were mowed down and murdered by a young man who also took his more »

O Little Occupied Town of Bethlehem

You could say I was following a star. As they say, it’s always Christmas in Bethlehem. The beautiful art in the newest building of the Bethlehem Bible College portrays the signal moment in Bethlehem’s – and some say the world’s – history. But a few things have changed since then…

Advent, Infertility and Miscarriage

Advent is a sacralized last-trimester pregnancy among other things. Many women identify with the pregnant Virgin – in spite of the sexual intimacy through which most of them were impregnated, medical and reproductive technologies aside. But all women will not and cannot become pregnant and give birth. For some that is extraordinarily painful and magnified more »

The Commemoration of King Kamehameha and Queen Emma ~ 28 November

Today is the commemoration of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, Hawaii’s Holy Sovereigns who brought the Episcopal Church to Hawaii. I had the great pleasure of spending parts of my 2010 sabbatical in Hawaii where I learned about the ali’i, royals….

Neither Jew or Gentile, Slave or Free, Male or Female: Did Paul REALLY Mean That?

Nehemiah 8:1 All the people gathered as though they were a single person into the square before the Water Gate. They told the Torah-scholar Ezra to bring the scroll of the Torah of Moses, which the Holy One of Sinai had commanded to Israel. 2 So, the priest Ezra brought the Torah before the assembly, more »

Wil’s Words of Wisdom for the Womanists Catching Up to Me: You Betta Werk!

AAR/SBL Womanist In-Gathering 2012: Rituals of Wisdom and Healing American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL   I’ve learned a lot about being a woman and being a womanist from drag queens. So I’m going to share with you: Wil’s Words of Wisdom for the Womanists Catching Up to Me: You Betta more »

An Army of Preaching Women

Psalm 68:11 The Sovereign-Commander gives an order; the preaching women are a great army. Isaiah 40:9 Woman, go up to a high mountain, you who proclaim good news to Zion. Woman, raise your woman’s voice with power – proclaiming good news to Jerusalem. Raise it woman, do not fear woman; woman, say to the cities more »

St. Publia the Confessor: a Patrona for Public Theology

The young widow Publia became a deaconess in Antioch in the fourth century. She was commended for raising her son John later Bishop of Antioch, in the faith. She was sainted for her own confession and defense of the faith. She was a public theologian who used the scriptures of the First Testament to articulate more »

Drag Queens and Did Jesus Just Call that Woman a B—-?

(Listen to or download the sermon as recorded in chapel – mp3 format) [Dons feather boa.] I love drag queens. I love the way they make me think about gender, its construction and its performance. Drag queens like RuPaul, Sharon Needles and Latrice Royale are some of my favorite critical gender theorists and theologians. Now drag more »

Solomon’s Theology, Solomon’s Catechism

Solomon’s prayer tells us what he believes. Today I’d like to share with you Solomon’s Theology, Solomon’s Catechism. 1Kings 8:41 And, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, when such a one comes from a faraway land because of your Name— 42 For they shall hear of your great Name, and your more »

Restoring Bathsheba

Our first lesson says, “Solomon’s throne was firmly established…” And, “Solomon loved the Lord…” In so doing the text jumps from 1 Kings 2:12 to 1 Kings 3:3. There is a gap in the text. The story as we have it framed by the lectionary presents a smooth transition from David to Solomon. But it more »

Mourning the Temple of Our Ancestors: A Tisha B’Av Sermon

  You've probably noticed that there's something different about our readings today. (See collect and lessons) Our propers commemorate the destruction of the Temple observed on Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the summer month of Av in the Jewish calendar. That day is today. Let us remember.  The Israelite monarchy was a mess. A more »

Scandalized By Jesus: Some Lessons for Vocation

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Miriam called Mary and brother of Ya‘akov called James and Yosef called Joses and Yehudah called Judas and Shimon called Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they were scandalized by him. Jesus is simply scandalous. More than notorious or shocking, eskandalizonto in Greek means to more »

The Scandalous Gospel According to a Bleeding Woman: A Re-Telling

Let us pray: In the name of the One who waded in the waters of Miryam’s womb, walked the way of suffering as one of the woman-born, and woke from the grasp of death in the deep darkness of the morning. Amen. Sarah’s daughter was bleeding from her vagina, again, still. It wasn’t the not-so-secret more »

Suing God

Job 38:1 Then the Holy One of Old answered Job out of the whirlwind:  2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  3 Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall respond to me.   Let us pray: Blessed are You, Yah our God, Heart of more »

Saying “Vagina” In the Pulpit

Looking forward to next week's Gospel and reflecting on the censuring of a Michigan State Representative, I discuss the woman with a vaginal hemorrhage in light of contemporary politcal and public discourse in my latest Huffington Post bog entry.

It Takes A Village: In the Shadow of David

Let us pray: Holy One of Old, open our eyes that we may see. Amen. The author of the book of Samuel wants you to know that good things come in small, or better, seemingly insignificant packages. David’s own father – Happy Father’s Day! –  overlooked him because he was the baby. Samuel wasn’t much more »

If We Can’t See God Then Give Us a King: Incarnational Monarchy

It’s not you it’s me. That’s the stereotypical and clichéd way to break up with someone. But what happens in the book of Samuel (and it’s a single book in Hebrew) is even tackier: The one partner (Israel) won’t talk to the other partner (God) and tells a third party (Samuel) that it’s time to more »

She Built A City: Sheerah the Biblical City-Builder

The book of Chronicles tells many of the stories of the scriptures all over again beginning at the beginning. The first word of Chronicles is “Adam.” And for 9 chapters, in 407 verses, Chronicles chronicles the peoples of the scriptures in a genealogy that runs from Adam to Saul’s great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandsons, Azrikam, Bocheru, Ishmael, Sheariah, Obadiah, more »

Black, Jewish and Queer: The Ethiopian Eunuch

The story in Acts 8 takes place on the side of the road in the wilderness, and at a crossroads, an intersection. I am not referring to the wilderness of the roads from Jerusalem to Gaza – there was no single road in the Roman era that transversed the fifty miles from Jerusalem to Gaza. more »

(Where) Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

Luke 24:44 Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Torah of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures.             Let us pray: Holy One more »

Was Jesus’ Last Supper a Seder Meal

The answer is: "Maybe." And you can quote me on that… Read the rest of this post here.

Prophetic Resistance: A Conversation with Elaine Pagels

I interview Elaine Pagels on her new book, Revelations: Visions, Prophecy and Politics in the book of Revelation for Religious Dispatches. You can find it here.

Lessons from the Prophet Miriam: When You Mess Up, Step Up

In these last and evil days someone needs to be reminded and someone else needs to learn that the word of God about a woman through a woman to women on Women’s Day works for men too, because women are the image of God, not once removed, but in everyway, image-bearers. And it’s a good more »

A Lesson in Public Theology: Men’s Religion & Women’s Healthcare

The recent political discourse in which some politicians are seeking to modify the public square, denying access to birth control, hormone therapy and further restrict access to abortions by imposing their religious values on on society led me to reflect on the ways in which Christian faith informed the Civil Rights Movement. My reflection on the more »

Noah’s Earth, Ark and our Creation

Genesis 9:8-10: God says, “I, yes I, am establishing my covenant with you all and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, from birds to herds, every living thing on earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.” And, Mark 1:13: “Jesus, was in the wilderness more »

Ash Wednesday: We’ve Got Work to Do

2Corinthians 6:1 As we work together with Christ, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. Let us pray: In the Name of the Author, the Word and the Translator. Amen. We’ve got work to do. As we work together with Christ. Fasting and bearing witness to our fast may be more »

Sabbath of Just-Laws and My Two Cents

Shabbat Mishpatim & Shabbat Shekalim 5772 On this Shabbat that we examine toroth, laws, that we hope are rooted in mishpat, justice I offer my mechatzi shekalim, my half-shekel, my two cents on this double-shabbat. Imagine with me. We are our ancestors. We have been liberated from Egyptian slavery. There are Israelites and Nubians and more »

A Radical, Threatening Love

 The Commemoration of Fr. Absalom Jones (read today's lessons) This morning I’d like to talk to you about Radical, Threatening Love. By the rivers of Babylon, Israel sat down and there they wept when they remembered Zion. By the rivers Mississippi, Potomac and Chattahoochee, our ancestors sat down and there they wept when they remembered more »

Christian Zionist Messianism Run Amok: Eddie Long’s Torah Coronation

I am writing this response to a YouTube video circulating widely on the Internet in in which Eddie Long, the troubled pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta GA, is apparently crowned king with the ritual use of a Jewish Torah scroll. The reader may know Long for the recent scandal in more »

Torat Bilhah: The Torah of a Disposable Woman

[This D’var Torah led to a rich and ongoing discussion at the Dorshe Derekh Reconstructionist Minyan of the Germantown Jewish Centre in Philadelphia on the possibility of adding the names of the enslaved Mothers, Zilpah and Bilhah, to the liturgy. Some of that conversation can be found here. Ultimately it was decided that prayer leaders more »

Deborah Speaks: A Call to Arms, A Call to Service

Judges 4:3 And the women-and-men-of-Israel cried out to the Faithful One for help; for King Jabin had nine hundred chariots of iron, and had oppressed the women-and-men-of-Israel cruelly twenty years. 4 Deborah, a woman, a female prophet, a fiery woman, she was judging Israel at that time.  I want to thank the All Saints ohana more »

Saints Alive!

For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord Jesus, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord Jesus, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord Jesus himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound more »

An Unholy Empire

Give the things that are Caesar’s to Caesar, and the things that are God’s to God. Caesars, emperors, pharaohs, oh my! Claims about earthly dominion and heavenly sovereignty undergird and perfuse the scriptures and the societies that emerged from them, deeply influencing us across time, including here, today. Give the things that are Caesar’s to more »

Torah on One Foot

While you’re still standing, if you’re willing and able, please stand on one foot and repeat after me: “What is hateful to me I will not do to another.” You may put your feet down. This is the law and the prophets. All the rest is commentary. In the name of God who fathered our more »

Hearing Voices and Seeing Visions

In our world, people who talk about hearing voices and seeing visions are liable to be thought to be eccentric, odd or perhaps seriously mentally ill. All of these options – and more – have been proposed by biblical scholars who study Ezekiel to characterize the prophet whose physical prophecies included dramatic performances: lying in more »

Parshat Eqev – Neighbors and Strangers

Parshat Eqev 5771 Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25 Ya‘aqov ben Yosef, (also known as James), the brother of Yeshua ben Miryam, (also known as Jesus), once asked a she’elah: Does the same spring pour forth bitter and sweet water? The answer to his she’elah in his writings is “no,” but that principle does not always hold true for more »

Giving God a Piece of Your Mind

Sometimes I’m up; sometimes I’m down. Sometimes I’m almost level to the ground. Sometimes I feel like a motherless child, a long way from home. Sometimes, I want to do like Hezekiah, and take my stuff – my hopes and my hurts – to God in person, or at least as close as a mortal more »

Joseph and Family Values

My commentary on Genesis 45:1-15 for WorkingPreacher.org. The story of Joseph's reunion with his brothers is among the most tender in the scriptures. His own brothers hated him, (Genesis 37:4), and kidnapped him, (Genesis 37:23). They had even planned to murder him, (Genesis 37: 18ff). They "settled" for selling him into slavery, (Genesis 37:28), a more »

Elijah, You’re Fired!

My commentary on 1 Kings 19:9-18 for WorkingPreacher.com. Elijah has had a good run, literally and figuratively. He has decimated Queen Jezebel's religious community by personally executing her four hundred prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:40. That he neither executed nor challenged her four hundred and fifty prophets of Asherah, (see verse 19ff), points more »

A Bruising Blessing

My commentary on Genesis 32:22-31 from WorkingPreacher.com In Genesis 32, Jacob and his family have finally left the homestead of his father-in-law Laban who is responsible for much of Jacob's present circumstances: Laban had deceived him into marrying sisters, Leah and Rachel whose conflict and competition with each other resulted in dozens of children with them more »

Love Triangle: Leah, Rachel and Jacob

My commentary on Genesis 29:15-28 from WorkingPreacher.com. This is the story of the Mothers and Fathers of Israel and their descendents, the people of Israel. Rebekah and Isaac have sent their son Jacob to his mother's brother Laban, with instructions to marry one of his daughters, (the as yet unnamed Leah and Rachel in Genesis more »

Living in Jerusalem: 40 Days and 40 Nights

I am reflecting on what it is like to live in Jerusalem for forty days and forty nights, a month of Sundays, or, in my case, two months. Visit the blog, with reflections, images and slide shows: Living in Jerusalem: 40 Days and 40 Nights. There's a space on the blog to sign up for more »

Shabbat Bechukotai (My Statutes)

Somehow I’m in Leviticus again. I didn’t do it on purpose. This time. I know I’ve drashed this parsha before, but according to my files it was in a year that B’har and B’chukotai were together and I scrolled to the B’har side of the Torah. Today we are plumb in B’chukotai which I would more »

Tough Texts: Gender and Sexuality

Tough Text lecture series, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, May 14, 2011 (Prof. Gafney's portion starts at 31 minutes) Session of the spring 2008 dialogue series for Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders, focusing on how the three Abrahamic traditions contemplate Scripture in terms of Identity and the Other, Gender and Sexuality, and War and more »

Osama bin Laden and the Image of God

Yesterday I preached a sermon on the image of God. The death of Osama bin Laden provides an opportunity for me to practice what I preach and proclaim that even he, the mastermind of terrorist attacks on Spain, the United States, Tanzania, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and places that we may never know, responsible for more »

Beyond Zombie Theology and More than a Mummy

Today’s sermon is Beyond Zombie Theology and More than a Mummy. In the Name of the Earth-Maker, Pain-Bearer and Life-Giver. Amen. Act I: Scene One The setting is what would on another day be a lovely, lush valley. But today it is full of human carnage. It is a scene out of a horror movie. more »