For Wonder Woman, Zacchaeus, & Braids - Seven Gratitudes, vol. 23

#SevenGratitudes is a weekly practice of thanksgiving. Several of my friends and I take a moment every Friday to search out the ways grace winds itself around our day-to-day. We share these moments in order to revel in the Reality of God’s nearness and love for each of us and, indeed, this whole creation.

Thanks for joining.


This week I am grateful…

1

For Wonder Woman.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

As my friend Laura said earlier this week, I did not know how much I needed a movie like Wonder Woman until I saw it. I am thankful for the empowerment of watching a female person discover the fullness of her identity, the complexity of humankind, and just how she will respond in her god-given vocation with strength, dignity, truth, and love.

Superhero movies are about saving the world. I do not think I was prepared for what watching a female superhero--a powerful woman!--save the world would do to me. It was deeply moving to see a woman rise mightily and reckon with the world for the sake of the good. 

Because to see her do it was, in an almost spiritual way, like watching myself do it or any of my sisters do it. 

Which is...game-changing. (Especially when I think about all the millions and millions of people--women and girls, especially!--who are taking in this story right now around the world.)

I am not going to say another word about it now, just in case you haven’t seen it yet. [But if you HAVE seen it: the “No Man’s Land” scene…I mean, how INCREDIBLE was THAT?!]

Related: Check out Wonder Woman in the Pulpit by Rachel Asproth--

"I’m thrilled to watch Wonder Woman upset evil on the big screen, but I’d actually rather see the wonder women of the church pushing back the shadows from the pulpit. The daughters of the church shouldn’t have to look to the big screen to see women perform mighty and wondrous deeds. We can image mighty, wondrous, flesh-and-blood women in the pulpit every Sunday. We can point women toward a God who already made them heroes."

2

For braids, for the special feeling that comes with different hairdos.

Braid

The third comment that came out of my mouth after Wonder Woman was, unashamedly, all about the braids of the Amazons. They are incredible, semi-practical, and beautiful. Totally inspired me to attempt my own quick version this week, and I now have a new goal: learn to fishtail.

I am thankful for the fun of a braid. Also, if you will just go with me on this, I am thankful for the way a small thing like a plait can symbolize and signify connection with something Real, with the powerful intersection of womanhood and divinity, even.

God goes as God chooses, you know. Bread, wine, water, oil—and maybe even braids.

3

For Zacchaeus’ repentance.

Image from here.

Image from here.

Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house…” Luke 19:8-9a

In “What Would Zacchaeus Do? The case for disidentifying with Jesus,” Jennifer Harvey points out that for White people in the 21st century, the last thing we need to do is see ourselves like Jesus. Harvey is writing specifically on the topic of “Whiteness” and how pale-skinned folk must face the systemic ways the world privileges them over people of color. White people are positioned for power and laud simply because of our skin color; we are not the oppressed minority that Jesus stood with in the first century. Instead, when it comes to facing down race and becoming more and more anti-racist, Harvey suggests pale-folk look to Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus was a traitor to his own ethnic group; he saw a way to reap prestige, power, and privilege from the Roman Empire and took it. Then he extorted his comrades by virtue of his social standing.

But.

When Zacchaeus met Jesus, everything changed.

Instead of identifying with Jesus in this story, even the most progressive white anti-racist might learn a more direct lesson from Zac, for, like him, we white folks are the ones reaping benefits from an extortionist system. Our job and calling from Christ—if we are to welcome Jesus into our homes and be with Him—is to follow Zacchaeus’ example and make recompense for what we have done (and not done). We are to actively undo the unjust rewards we won from a broken system, a work of repentance that will likely take the rest of our lives to fulfill.

But to do so is to be with Christ. And there is the hope, you see.

I am thankful for Jennifer Harvey’s courageous and compassionate words. She and Zacchaeus have been preaching to me all week, thanks be to God.

I read Harvey’s article in CHRISTOLOGY AND WHITENESS: What Would Jesus Do? (Ed. George Yancy, Routledge: New York, 2012). Contact me if you are interested in reading or talking more about this topic.

4

That my neighbor felt like she could ask Aaron and me to come kill a (HUGE) bug for her.

That happened last night. We were in the middle of watching a scary action film when a knock fell on the door. Barkley went ballistic ‘cause he could totally feel our movie-induced tension.

It was our neighbor. She needed help and she came to us. How awesome is that?

BEING NEIGHBORLY IS HARD. BUT LET’S NOT GROW WEARY IN DOING GOOD, BELOVEDS. KNOCK AND KNOW AND BE KNOWN.

‘Cause then you get to kill bugs the size of small cats. ;)  

I am thankful for the way my neighbor risked being known by us, for the way she reached out in honest vulnerability. I am humbled by her example.

5

For the old white man at church on Sunday who was determined to learn our names and our stories.

He had to be at least eighty with his shining hair, slight hunch, and quiet pride. He scribbled our details so as not to forget them. I appreciated the warmth in his eyes, his welcome, and the effort he put into understanding “Coyle-Carr.”

6

For the multicultural nature of my small summer classes.

I am one of two pale people in both of my summer classes (one class has 7 people, the other has 6) and am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be with my comrades of color in such a focused and intentional way. Our class meetings have been some of the richest in dialogue that I have experienced at WakeDiv. Such a wide range of perspectives—each of our particularities and peculiarities shining so bright!

7

For homemade pizza with new friends—our soon-to-be Texan neighbors!

Wilshire Baptist Church Pastoral Resident Matt and his wonderful family trekked all the way down from VA Monday night for supper with us. I am so thankful for the chance to get to know the folks we will be making community with for the next two years—we’ll be living on the same street and everything!

As we swapped stories and ate homemade pizza, I got the feeling that this whole Texas thing is going to be even better than I anticipated. For the first time in a while I realized that we are not alone and that we ain’t gonna be, either.

So thankful for our new friends and the promise of the next few years.


Seven Gratitudes Link-Up

If you would like to join in on this weekly practice of gratitude and chicanery, grab yourself a button and link up with us here every Friday morning of 2017.

Seven-Gratitudes-Button

HOW TO:

  1. Write a listicle about your seven gratitudes each week.
  2. Publish your piece with a link back to my blogpost on Friday mornings.
  3. And then link up with the form at the bottom of the page.

Be sure to visit with the other bloggers in the party--THEY ARE TOO WONDERFUL TO MISS!