An Easter Reflection

Mary Magdalene tells her story:

Woman, Old, Senior, Desperation, Grief, Female, PersonWe spent the Sabbath, weeping and mourning and praying. There was nothing left for us to do. We wondered why God had abandoned Jesus and why God had abandoned us. We were all together comforting each other. After the Sabbath, I went with Joanna, Mary who is the mother of James and some other women to Jesus’ tomb. We hadn’t had time before the Sabbath to prepare him for burial. It was just one more indignity that he had to endure. Now we just needed to perform the proper rituals for him.

When we got to the tomb…the stone was gone. Suddenly, there were two men. They were dazzling and light glowed from them. We were terrified. There were too many strange things happening. How could it be that the stone was gone? Who were these men and why were they surrounded by bright light? They spoke to us. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” That doesn’t even make sense. Jesus is dead. We saw him die. This is the place where you look for dead people and Jesus is dead. “He is not here, but has risen.” Wait….what…risen? risen? Wait… risen…raised to life? How is that possible?

We ran away in fear—not understanding what had happened. Distressed at another insult. Distressed at something else we couldn’t explain. We found the others. We tried to explain but our words just tumbled out in a jumble making no sense. It made no sense because our grief was too raw and too huge to understand, to share or explain. This new event just added to our confusion, our grief and outrage.


Rock, Outlook, Landscape, Holiday, Nature, Rocky, ViewThe Easter story is a story many of us know well. it is one that we read or hear year after year. I want to offer some cultural background about death which might put a different spin on our reflections about Easter. This information is taken from the Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels by Richard L. Rohrbaugh and Bruce J. Malina . In Jesus’ culture, the original culture of Easter, there was a different understanding of death. We think that there is a moment where life stops…breath stops, the heart stops beating, the brain stops transmitting. For us, this is the moment of death…This is the moment we grieve as life changes to something else.

But in Jesus time, after death, the body would be placed on a shelf in a tomb. Family and friends would mourn for a whole year while the body decomposed. As the body decomposed, any evil deeds would fall away. It was believed that the bones contained the personality and were necessary for a resurrection. At the end of the year, the bones were collected and placed in a box to wait for resurrection.

In the case of capital punishment or crucifixion the body was held by the Sanhedrin (which functioned like a court) for the full year. When the flesh was gone from the body the sentence was complete and the bones prepared for resurrection.

For the women arriving at the tomb on Easter morning, they arrive to participate in a ritual that is part of the mourning process. But there is nothing there to mourn. Without the bones there is no hope of resurrection. We think of Easter as a happy and joyful occasion but the first witnesses would have been more distressed by an empty tomb. Their hope of resurrection is now gone.

Malina and Rohrbaugh make two points that I think challenge our theological perspective of the resurrection. They suggest that Jesus’ resurrection (the disappearance of the body), could go directly to God because there were no evil deeds that needed to rot away. This leads to another important point. Jesus death was wrong and in taking Jesus directly after death, God overturns the judgement of the earthly condemnation.

I like this twist because rather than suggest that God sent Jesus to die, it affirms that the death of Jesus, like so many other deaths, is unjust and wrong. It speaks to us in our moments of despair and confusion and grief and reminds us that God’s love and compassion overcomes the evil and violence in our world.

Maybe after they thought about it for a bit. Maybe after they had cried until they could cry no more, Mary and the other women at the tomb might hear the words of the two men at the tomb differently. With the bones gone, the only way to find hope was to believe that God had overturned the conviction and proclaimed Jesus innocent. The only way to find hope was to believe that Jesus was already resurrected.

As we look around the world and see violence and hatred and injustice the Easter story reminds us that this violence is not the end of the story. It is the beginning of a new story. It is an opportunity for new ways of seeing the world. It is a chance for hope to blossom and create new life in places of violence and pain.

What thing in your life or in the world is painful, confusing, grief-filled? What can the Easter story teach you about finding new life within this situation?

Advertisements

Witness

witness

http://bethesdapres.org/
Cong_life/2011-
revival%20info.htm

Today we begin reading the book of Acts. The book of Acts tells the story of what happens after Jesus’ death and resurrection. It was written by a Jewish Christian writer for a primarily Jewish-Christian audience—four generations after Jesus’ death around 80-90 C.E. There are two stories happening in Acts. The first has to do with Jesus appearing to the remaining eleven disciples and sending them on a mission. That’s what we heard this morning. The second story line has to do with Paul and his missionary work. As all these people tell the story of Jesus they come into conflict with the communities they are working in as the new Christian communities try to make sense of who Jesus is for them and what they are to do now that Jesus is gone.

Acts is written as the sequel to the Gospel of Luke – possibly by the same writer. Both are written for Theophilus. Theophilus seems to be the patron of the writer. If that’s the case Theophilus may have been someone wealthy and important and the writer of Luke-Acts may have been seeking financial support for this new ministry.

The disciples are hanging out in Jerusalem. They have seen the risen Jesus at the end of the book of Luke and then Jesus returned to God. In these conversations, Jesus had told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem and wait for instructions. The disciples are still waiting for Jesus and God to send the Romans packing. They are waiting for Jesus to become the new king.

Instead Jesus disappears from them and is taken to heaven. This needs a bit of explanation. In the ancient world there was no concept of space. What they could see in the sky was all that existed. The flat earth was enclosed in a dome (sky) and the stars and moon were attached to that dome. When you passed through the dome you would reach God’s realm. There was a belief that was an opening in the dome above the temple in Jerusalem. It is through this opening that Jesus disappeared.

In this passage (Acts 1:1-11), the disciples experience an Alternate State of Consciousness. These experiences can include things like dreams, daydreams, nightmares, hallucinations, fugue states, prayerfulness, a hypnotic trance, near death experiences, and drug induced experiences. There are at least 30 different states of consciousness that people might experience.[1]

The book of Acts and the whole Bible contains many episodes of these alternate states of consciousness. In order to fully understand the stories we find in scripture we need to understand that for the people having these experiences, they are real experiences—even if no one else shares the experience. In our own culture, someone may have had a death of someone close to them. They might experience that person sitting in their favorite chair. No one else might be aware of the presence. When they tell others about what they experienced they might be met with scepticism and others may try to dissuade them from believing their own experience.

Think about the Easter story for a minute. His friends have watched Jesus die. They saw his body being placed into the tomb and yet on Easter morning, there is no body. Something happened. For the disciples who first saw the risen Christ, the experience was real. They couldn’t explain it but for them it happened and was real. I’m sure the people around them were sceptical and tried to tell them it wasn’t possible.

In this passage, the disciples have been continuing to learn from the risen Christ and have conversations with him in this altered state. And now that risen Christ tells them that they will be his witnesses—that they will tell everyone about him through all the earth. And then they see Jesus being taken to the sky, into God’s presence. None of this has a logical, rational explanation but that doesn’t mean the disciples didn’t experience it. It is a bit like trying to explain a dream to someone. Sometimes what we experience in these altered states of consciousness can help to make sense of the world and help us figure out what to do next. Sometimes what we experience in those moments is simply comfort.

Also important for understanding the book of Acts is the concept of being a witness. The first type of witness Acts talks about are the ones who were with Jesus. These are the ones who followed him around the countryside and experienced him in life. These are the people who were present at his death and then later experienced the risen Christ. But also in Acts we find witnesses who didn’t experience Jesus in life. They experienced Jesus only through an alternate state of consciousness. Paul (who we will come to in a few weeks) and Stephen are examples of these types of witnesses. They didn’t know Jesus before death but they had mystical experiences that made Jesus real in their lives. The writer of Acts makes a distinction between witnesses—those who have had an experience of Jesus (whether grounded in physical reality or an alternate state) and those who confess their beliefs about Jesus based on second or third hand knowledge.

So when we say our creeds and tell the stories of Jesus we are confessing what we believe to be true based on what we have learned from others. When we talk about experiences in our own lives—moments when the Jesus story comes alive to us, when Jesus comes to us in a dream or a prayer or we know with certainty that Jesus is with us in some way—we become witnesses. The Acts story is all about the first witnesses. It is the story of the early church, re-told so that another generation will know the stories and be able to experience the risen Christ for themselves.

We are invited to enter the story of the early church and to hear the witness of the first Jesus followers. It isn’t enough for us to simply hear the witness. We are also invited to experience the risen Christ in our own lives so we also can become first hand witnesses of Jesus at work in our lives and in the world.

[1]. Malina, Bruce J., and John J. Pilch. Social-Science Commentary on the Book of Acts. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2008, Alternate States of Consciousness.

No Risen Jesus on Easter Morning

As a teen and young adult, I never slept much between Good Friday and Easter. I spent a lot of time and energy wrestling with the story of Good Friday and Easter and the theology that I had absorbed surrounding it.

I had learned—like many of us—that Jesus was sent by God to die for our sins. As a teenager, it didn’t make sense that Jesus died so that I would believe in God. Jesus being sacrificed on the cross didn’t have any personal connection to my life but I had learned from evangelical friends that I needed to be saved in order for to establish my permanent place in God’s love.

My United Church didn’t have a lot to say about Good Friday. Jesus died but there wasn’t an emphasis on personal salvation but there also wasn’t any other explanation for the death. We often skipped over Good Friday. Who wants to spend time dwelling on death? And why do we call it “good” when someone has died?

And then there’s the resurrection itself. There’s the whole question of whether Jesus really was raised from the dead. Was it a physical resurrection or a spiritual resurrection? Maybe someone just moved the body and the whole thing is a big hoax. What does this story have to do with anything in my own life?

You can see why I didn’t sleep much over Easter weekend. Every year I would wrestle with these same questions or variations on them. And the gospel of Mark that we heard this morning doesn’t actually help answer the questions except to leave us with more questions.

The earliest manuscripts that we have of Mark’s gospel end after eight verses. We have a group of women going to the tomb. The stone has been rolled away from the entrance. Someone speaks to them and tells them that Jesus is raised. The women are afraid and run away and tell no one about what happened. End of story.

In this version, the raised Jesus does not appear to anyone. And the women who went to the tomb are so terrified that they will not speak. Is this because of the awe of the moment or fear that the Romans may want an explanation and having been at the tomb the women will be the first suspects?

The story ends and leaves us with questions: Who rolled away the stone? What happened to Jesus? If the women didn’t say anything, how do we even have this story? The story doesn’t try to prove that Jesus was raised to life.

But later writers weren’t satisfied. Mark was the first of the four gospels to be written. So as the other gospels are being written, someone else decided that Mark needed a better ending. So over the next 200 years there were additions made to Mark.

The second ending is short but it does tell us that the women overcame their fear at least enough to tell Peter and that Jesus appeared and gave the disciples a task. This is a bit more satisfying. Some loose ends are being tied up. The women followed through. Jesus was sighted and therefore alive and we are given a reason to believe the story.

The third ending is longer and embellishes the story even more. This later addition to the gospel is where we begin to see the theology that surrounds the resurrection being developed. In this version, there is no fear and angst on Easter morning. Jesus appears right away to Mary Magdalene. And Jesus appears to the disciples and here he supposedly offers salvation in baptism and gives super powers to the disciples. Then Jesus goes to heaven with God. So much of our understanding of that first Easter comes from these later additions to this gospel and the other gospels.

But the original writer of Mark didn’t try to prove the story. It was enough to affirm that Jesus died—we have the witnesses who were at the cross—and the tomb was empty on Easter morning. It isn’t important whether Jesus was actually raised or how he was raised but how the story has meaning for us. I can only tell you what this story means for me. Part of the wonder of the story is that it has a slightly different meaning for each person. What is central and what most Christians can agree on is that there is something powerful and transformational in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

You may have already guessed that personal salvation in the sense of believing in Jesus so I will have eternal life in heaven isn’t central to my theology. I do believe that we have a spirit that continues after our bodies die but I don’t know what form that takes or what that experience will be like. For me the transformation comes in allowing parts of myself that are unhealthy, that prevent me from thriving, to die so there is space for new life to be created. I also believe that Easter has far reaching implications for the world. The transformational power of Easter doesn’t stop with individuals. Jesus’ ministry was about changing this world. Mark particularly focuses on the political aspects of his ministry. Mark places Jesus in direct conflict with the Roman and religious authorities.

We might argue that empire existed in Jesus’ day and that there has always been poverty, violence and oppression. We might argue that there is nothing we can do to change these things. But if there’s nothing to be done, then what was the purpose of Jesus’ life and death? Jesus died for a cause that had no hope of succeeding. But it is in the resurrection that the meaning becomes more clear: Jesus stood against the authorities, against violence and while it appears that the evil won out, the resurrection asserts that good does overcome evil, that life does overcome death. Thanks be to God for this story of  hope.

Here for a Good Time

Last week I wrote about eternal life as abundant life now. Abundant life occurs when we know God in this life—in our ordinary, everyday lives. This passage builds on the theme of abundant life and gives us some clues about how to get there. Most of us go through life doing whatever it is that we do: working, caring for family and friends, participating in community activities and hobbies. These things are valuable and good. The passage reminds us that life is short and we are going to die anyway. Death is inevitable. The question becomes whether we want to simply die at the end of our lives or do we want our lives to have produced abundant life?

Lent has traditionally been a time of giving something up. It is common to give up particular foods but giving something up is only beneficial if it changes us somehow or leads us deeper into God’s spirit. Our passage this morning gets at the heart of letting go of life that has become comfortable and creating space for new life.

I want to tell you a story of death and resurrection in my own life. Through most of my life, I felt very shy and insecure. I learned ways of coping. In school and on the bus, I always kept my nose in a book. At church events I poured coffee so I could appear engaged without actually having to carry on a conversation. I didn’t speak to other people any more than was absolutely necessary.

When I was doing my training for ministry we had a workshop on shame and self-esteem led by another group of students. A few minutes into the workshop, I found myself crying. I was trying so hard to hide my tears. I cried off and on throughout the morning. Several people in the group took me aside to ask if I was OK, if I needed to talk or if they could do anything. I snivelled that I was fine and didn’t need anything.

http://www.ssjd.ca/labyrinth.html

The Labyrinth at St. John the Divine. http://www.ssjd.ca/labyrinth.html

We were staying at a St. John the Divine, an Anglican convent in Toronto. Outside the convent was a labyrinth. After lunch I went out and walked the labyrinth. A labyrinth is similar to a maze but there are no dead ends. There is one way into the center and when you reach the center you turn and follow the same path out again. Walking this path into the center of yourself and God is an opportunity to pray.

So I walked into this labyrinth. As I walked I realized that my soul was close to death. I realized that I wasn’t really living. I was just going through the motions of living. I walked with more tears. I stood in the center of the labyrinth—deep within myself and deep within God. I realized that I didn’t want my spirit to die. I wanted to live fully and abundantly with joy. I walked out of the labyrinth knowing that something would have to die. That’s the story of our faith—death and resurrection. If my soul wasn’t going to die, then my way of living and being in the world would have to die in order to create space for a new life.

I went back inside and people asked again if I was OK. This time my response was different. This time I started talking about what I had experienced in the morning and how that connected to my life up to that point. What I had been doing allowed me to cope but it didn’t allow me to live abundantly and with joy. This was the beginning of a new life for me.

The passage of scripture encourages us to allow something in our lives to die so that we might create space for God in our lives. In reflecting on this passage Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh write, “attachment to life as one now leads it, leads to death anyway, while disattachment from living in the present [way] will lead to eternal life.”[1] What I needed to learn that as much as I had learned how to cope, I didn’t really know God but by letting go of the things that allowed me to cope, I could experience God.  It seems counter intuitive. It often feels like what we do in our lives gets us through but my experience suggests that we experience God in the letting go.

This week someone reminded me that life is short and we should enjoy it. Think of the Trooper song: We’re here for a good time. No matter what we are going to die at some point. Do we want the lives that we live to simply be toil and pain or do we want the life that we live to be abundant? It isn’t that life will always be easy or that things will always go the way we want but can we find abundance in the midst of difficulties and pain?

When I talk about being here for a good time, I’m not talking about accumulation of things. I’m not talking about seeing life as one big party where we hop from experience to experience while avoiding anything that is challenging. The song speaks about sun shining in the midst of rain.  I’m talking about the things that actually allow us to experience and know God. That is the good and abundant life—to know God.

To know God we need to embrace authentic life. It means being real with ourselves and others. There are days when life is challenging and we don’t have to carry that load alone. If we are used to being strong and independent it can be a challenge to share our very personal inner lives with another and yet that might be the space we need to experience God’s presence. If we always feel that the world is against us and nothing ever goes our way perhaps the challenge is to ask where God is in the midst of these challenges without assuming that we know the answer. We might be surprised that God is in the midst of a change that makes us uncomfortable. We might find that hanging on to the way things are in our own lives or in the congregation may actually be preventing us from experiencing God. Letting go of life as we know it allows something new to grow. Just like the grain of wheat that falls into the ground we need death in our lives to create new life.

The season of Lent brings us closer to death and resurrection and provides a perfect time for us to reflect on the things in our own lives which prevent us from experiencing God. It is the perfect time to allow habits which harm us, the people around or the creation to die. It can be scary to allow particular aspects of our lives to die but as resurrection people we know that in order for there to be life, there must be death.

And we see a bit further on in the passage that Jesus is resisting what will be next his life. He recognizes that the path he is on will lead to a violent death. Jesus could still have walked away at this point. He could have gone back to carpentry or join the fisherman that he hung out with. That would have been the safe and comfortable thing to do and at the end of his life, he would have died anyway. And we hear him question God and asking what the purpose of his life is. Jesus isn’t terribly excited about the prospect of death but he recognizes that death is the only way for new life to be created.

The Scarlet Letter Bible paraphrases this way:

“Jesus said, “It’s time for the authentic human to be recognized. I’m telling you, really, if a seed never falls into the earth and disintegrates, it remains just a seed. But if it disintegrates, it produces fruit. If you love your life, you’ll lose it. If you let go of your life as it is, your horizons will expand forever. If you want to serve me, you have to do what I do. You have to go where I go. If you do this, God won’t let you down.

“I’m troubled. What am I supposed to say? ‘God, keep me from my fate?’ No! I won’t deny the reason I came here in the first place! God, make yourself known!”

Just then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I’ve made myself known, and will do it again.” When people heard it, they thought it was thunder. Some said that an angel had spoken to him.

Jesus said, “The voice wasn’t for me. It was for you. It’s decision time. The world’s ruler is about to be sent into exile. I’ll be upheld, and everyone will come to me.”

The passage offers a choice: Die with nothing to show for it or choose abundant life. The choice is yours.

“By his own admission, the advent of the hour leaves Jesus anxious. Yet, in spite of his anxiety, Jesus embraces the appointed time and what God wills for it.”[2] Letting go is not an easy process but in the process we can trust in God’s presence which holds us and strengthens and guides us.

[1].  Bruce Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998) pg 212.

[2]. Bruce Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh, Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998) pg 212.

Witness Death – Witness Life

This is a reflection based on the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:1-45)

It is a strange story…A story of life and death and life again. It is a story that mimics and expands the story of Jesus’ own death and resurrection which we will hear in a few weeks.

It begins with a message being sent to Jesus telling him that Lazarus is ill. Jesus is unconcerned and announces that this illness, whatever it is, will not end in death and he continues ministry where he is for a couple more days. After discussing Lazarus’ illness and death, along with the potential for stoning, Jesus and the disciples go to see Mary and Martha.

Lazarus has been dead for four days and the community has gathered around Mary and Martha to offer their support. Martha goes to Jesus and says “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She follows this up by affirming Jesus and God’s power for life. “But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Martha and Jesus have a conversation about resurrection.

 Common logic of Jesus’ day, and even our own time, tells us that resurrection is impossible. N. T. Wright suggests that “resurrection does not mean being “raised to heaven” or “taken up in glory” . . . Resurrection is not simply death from another viewpoint; it is the reversal of death, its cancellation, the destruction of its power.”[1] Within certain sects of Judaism there was a belief that there would be a resurrection at the last day and when Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will live again Martha affirms this belief.

 Jesus corrects her assertion that resurrection will happen at the end and suggests that, with him, resurrection is imminent, not in some distant time and place but in the immediate future. According to the Women’s Bible Commentary, the author of John wants people to know that “through faith in Jesus, death loses its power and life gains new power.”[2] Martha struggles to wrap her mind around what Jesus is telling her. She affirms Jesus as Messiah but is unable affirm that resurrection for Lazarus is imminent. We might also struggle to expect resurrection. Logic tells us that it is impossible.

 Matha calls Mary to see Jesus and the whole crowd of people at their home follow her. Mary is not as understanding as Martha. She accuses Jesus “If you had been here, he would not have died.” The crowd that has gathered also accuses Jesus saying, “if you could heal a blind man, why couldn’t you save Lazarus from death?” Mary is weeping and Jesus weeps with her. We see Jesus showing human emotion and being touched by the death of someone he loves and the pain of Lazarus’ family. Mary is weeping because Lazarus is dead and as far as she can see, this is the end. Perhaps she is wondering what will happen to herself and Martha without a male relative in the house. Jesus weeps for Lazarus but he also “weeps because of the powerful destructive power of death that is still at work in the world.”[3] Mary doesn’t understand Jesus’ power for life.

 With all the weeping, they arrive at the tomb and Jesus asks for the stone to be removed. It is Martha who reminds Jesus that Lazarus has been dead four days and opening the tomb will be a smelly business. Even though she affirmed Jesus as Messiah Martha doesn’t understand Jesus’ power for life either. Neither sister is really able to grasp the power that Jesus has in the midst of their grief and loss.

 And then, Jesus calls to Lazarus and he walks out of the tomb. Imagine the shock and surprise of the gathered crowd to see a dead man walking. Mary and Martha struggled with seeing their brother alive. I’m like Mary and Martha in that I struggle to believe in a physical resurrection in the present life. How could Lazarus come back from the dead? How could Jesus himself be resurrected? The raising of Lazarus is not really about a physical resurrection or “a freak act of nature but it is a demonstration of God’s power for life.”[4] Physical death reminds us of our vulnerability. With Lazarus’ death, Mary and Martha become vulnerable to the whims of a culture in which unattached women had little value. The death here is not only Lazarus’ but also his sisters’ ability to live. And so Jesus weeps for both. Jesus weeps because the power of death is at work in the world.

 In many ways this story foreshadows the story of Jesus’ own death and resurrection. In both stories we see people who have gathered in the face of death to bear witness. The have gathered in fear and anger and frustration that the world is not as it should be. They have gathered to witness the death of innocent people.

 But the word brought to them in Lazarus’ resurrection and in Jesus’ resurrection is that death does not have the final say. In Lazarus’ death we see the connection between the “intimate and the cosmic: the pain of this family reminds Jesus of the pain in the world.”[5] In Jesus’ death we also see how the pain of Jesus followers is the pain of the world. We cannot separate our personal pain from what we see in the world. Neither can we prevent the pain we see in the world becoming our own pain.

 When I consider Jesus’ death on the cross and the people who witnessed that death, I am reminded of all the other deaths in our world that need witnesses: the creation that is being destroyed, aboriginal people that live with the results of residential schools and the reserve system, immigrants who live with racism, LGBT teens that live with bullying, people who live with limited income and struggle to make ends meet. All of these people need witnesses to the deaths that they live every day. This is the pain that Jesus was witnessing in the death of Lazarus. It is the pain the disciples witnessed as Jesus died.

 The resurrections of Lazarus and Jesus are intended to remind us that all this death and pain is not the end. By witnessing to death we can also be bringers of new life. We are resurrection people but we cannot be resurrection people without witnessing death. Without death, resurrection does not exist. Without death there is no miracle. I’m not convinced of a physical resurrection but I am convinced that resurrection happens on a daily basis when people stand strong in the face of pain and violence and death. Our creed reminds us to “resist evil and proclaim Jesus crucified and risen.”[6] And so we stand in the midst of pain and proclaim resurrection. We proclaim that the way things are, is not how they should be. We weep for what we see and pray and hope and work for resurrection in this world.

[1]. N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of Resurrection, http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_BR_Resurrection.htm

[2]. Gail R. O’Day, Women’s Bible Commentary, ed. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988), 386.

 [3]. Gail R. O’Day, Women’s Bible Commentary, ed. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988), 387.

 [4]. Gail R. O’Day, Women’s Bible Commentary, ed. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988), 386.

 [5]. Gail R. O’Day, Women’s Bible Commentary, ed. Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1988), 386.

 [6]. A New Creed, http://www.united-church.ca/beliefs/creed