I grieve the patriarchy that pervades the church. It's the water we swim in without an awareness of it. I tire of the words, images, and practices of the church that constantly present God as male. I believe it harms. This is a huge subject. I'm sure I'll return to it at times in this space.

I've been inspired by some courageous authors to wonder about a path toward more empowerment for women - especially in the church. I'll mention two of them this morning; Kelly Nikondeha and Sarah Bessey. I'm currently rereading Kelly's book, DEFIANT. The subtitle is "what the women of Exodus teach us about freedom." I highly recommend it.

In the forward, Sarah Bessey writes, "For too long the notion of biblical womanhood has felt weak and ineffectual, a cookie-cutter vision of a 1950s sitcom that didn't even exist in real life, and yet it crippled and silenced generations of women in the church. In DEFIANT, Kelly lays out a feast for us of the truth about biblical womanhood: the resistance, the strength, the civil disobedience, the collaboration, the truth-telling, the drumming, the wit, the holy liberated power of women who know their God. She connects everything she learned from the women of Exodus to the women of our past and our time whose subversive strength continues to spell the downfall of evil and injustice."

God's liberating love embraces and empowers all of us. The power and breath of God's Spirit is in me, too. My prayer is that the church will be a place that affirms, empowers, recognizes, celebrates, and engages the gifts of all people!

I close with part of a blessing written by Sarah Bessey.

"May we be peacemakers, joy-bringers, truth-tellers, status-quo-disrupters...

who never settle for the sit-down-and-shut-up life but rise up in a

she-who-the-Son-sets-free-is-free-indeed birthright of freedom."

Courage to you today,