Howard Thurman (18th Nov 1899 – 10th Apr 1981) is the precious man who led me to #SubversiveSeminary. At the moment that he did so, I had only read his name a couple of hours earlier and known the title of one of his books ‘Jesus and the Disinherited’. The mind is an interesting organ. Curiosity can really drive one’s mind to great lengths, sometimes for good, sometimes to injury. The reason I went about scouring the internet to learn more about Howard Thurman was because I had received a double caveat on him and his book ‘Jesus and the Disinherited’ in a space that I am in. The fact that this caveat was in both a male and female voice really intrigued me. What was it about this man and this book that would necessitate such measures? I had to find out.
I am a
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
I am a teacher. One of my favorite people to teach is the little children, beginning with mine, whom I joyfully teach God’s Word or maybe I should better say Catechism because we cover the broad length that is the doctrines of our faith. In these setting we have narrowed down our definition of SIN as follows:
Teacher/Leader: What is SIN?
All in unison:
SIN is anything you think (touching the head and shaking it small small);
anything you hear (wiggling our ears),
anything you see (touching our eyes),
anything you smell (pinching our noses small small),
anything you eat (moving our fingers towards our open mouths),
anything you say (flapping our fingers next to the mouth),
anything you touch (wiggling our hands),
anywhere you go (marching/stomping with our feet)
that does not please God!
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
I love me a good love story and the Book of Ruth and her love story with Boaz is one of the romantic accounts of the Bible. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves because the story of Ruth begins in tears, in widowhood. I know a few widows and I know how society looks down upon, mistreats and generally maligns widows. Do not even get me started on young widows, the rumor mills are set on maximum speed as soon as the death of their spouse is made public. I can only image the pain and agony of being a widow in Ruth’s days and in our days.
Ruth is a widow of a foreigner. She is a Moabites (I loove the way mine pronounce this word). Her dead husband is an Israelite living in a Moab after their entire family left Bethlehem because of famine. Ruth is not the only widow, her mother in law Naomi is also a widow and her sister in law Orpah is also a widow; three widows in Moab. One day Naomi wakes up and decides to go back home, to Bethlehem. Only problem is, she has two widowed daughters in law. She decides to cut them off, politely so, by informing them that even if she were to give birth at that moment it would not be viable for them to wait. Orpah heads back home after wailing but Ruth clings onto Naomi and utters the famous words in Ruth 1:16-17
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
Good move Ruth. Good move. The two widows arrive in Bethlehem and the gossip mills are on overdrive. As Providence would have it, it is the beginning of the barley harvest time. So Ruth learns how things are done by Naomi and she gets to work to provide for both of them. Do you remember Leviticus 23:22; 19:9
“And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”
Well, Boaz was one of those diligently walking in obedience to God’s command. And once again, as Providence would have it, Ruth finds herself gleaning in the land of Boaz. Boaz comes around his farm and voila! A new madam is in his farm gleaning, ofcourse meaning she either poor or a sojourner. He quickly enquires about her identity and when she is informed about her, it would seem Boaz immediately takes a liking to Ruth. Ruth is welcome at Boazland for the rest of harvest season. She goes home and tells Naomi all about it and brings some bounty from Honcho Boaz.
In comes the concept of a Kinsman Redeemer; a concept well executed by Naomi, Ruth and Boaz. In essence a widow is redeemed so that the name of the deceased does not get lost. Naomi knows this all too well and she gives Ruth a crash course on what to do. Boaz does what he needs to do and Ruth get a husband and bears a son Obed.
The part Naomi plays of it is beautifully summarized by Sylvia Gunter:
“Sit still, My daughter, the apple of My eye, waiting as long as it takes, until you learn (know, perceive, understand, discern, and distinguish as truth) how the matter, thing, question, or cause will turn out, because surely the Man Christ Jesus, your Kinsman-Redeemer, will not by any means be idle, or silent, or have any peace until He finishes His purposes, working until the job is done, in His eternal now.”
Love is a beautiful thing. Ruth’s love and devotion towards Naomi. God’s love and devotion towards His children. Boaz’s love towards Ruth. Hesed is the Hebrew word that summarizes this type of love. It is rich. It includes kindness, Providence, care, protection, wisdom, procreation, preservation. It is an all encompassing love. And Ruth the Moabites gets to experience this love in all its fullness. She shares it with Naomi. She receives it from Naomi. She shares it with Boaz son of Rahab the prostitute and together they, two women considered as outsiders Providentially find themselves planted in the genealogy of Jesus the Son of God, Jesus the man from Nazareth. Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called children of God – all of us, including those considered as ‘outsiders’
So now faith, hope, and LOVE abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Jochebed, a name that does not instantly ring a bell in many peoples minds. Let’s add Moses into the mix and maybe, just maybe a few might get the connection. But for most, you need to speak it plainly; Jochebed was the mother of Moses. She also had two other well know children, Aaron and Miriam.
When I think about Jochebed my heart is heavy. This mother carries life in her womb for 9 months or there about and she delivery a healthy bouncing baby boy. Unfortunately right about the same time, there is a murder decree against Hebrew boys. If you do not know the setting of the story, the Hebrews are slaves in Egypt. Having gone there on there at the invitation of Joseph to flee from famine and save their lives. Unfortunately regimes changed and we are told that a new king who neither knew Joseph or the increasing populance of Hebrews in Goshen came about. The result is that Hebrews became slaves in Egypt for a long long long time.
Back to Jochebed, the Egyptian king aka Pharaoh is not happy with the increase in number of the Hebrew peeps. He tried everything to cap their numerical growth from slavery, harsh slave conditions, instructing the Hebrew midwives to kill Hebrew boys at birth and nothing worked. By the way the term ‘Hebrew birth’ comes from this account. Because the Hebrew midwives fearing God told the Pharaoh that Hebrew women are no joke, before the midwife arrives they have delivered! So the Pharaoh results to murder, kill every Hebrew boy by drowning them; throw them into the River Nile!
Jochebed gives birth to Moses at the time of this decree. She hides him for three months, but can hide him no longer. So, she makes a basket, lines it warmyl, puts her precious son inside, covers the basket and puts in on the Nile. Same Nile Hebrew boys are being drowned in. Miriam enters the scene here. She follows the basket along the Nile. And as Providence would have it, a princes from the very palace a murder decree has gone out, decides to go for a bath in the Nile at the same time!
Princess rescues the baby floating inside a basket in the Nile and names him Moses, drawn out of the water. Baby gal Miriam is still watching her small brother and as soon as the Princes is out of the water she steps up and she has an idea. Would the princess be in need of a wet nurse? I always picture this scene and it makes me smile – a hope that does not disappoint. I am sure Miriam was wet and dripping, basket that delivered Moses to the Princes might have still been close by, maids attending to the Princess were around her and the princess is carrying her Hebrew son rescued from the Nile. Miriam’s suggestion sails through and Moses is raised by Jochebed! He is now a son in the house of Pharaoh, no harm can befall him, atleast for now.
I do not know what Jochebed had in mind when she let the basket onto the Nile. I can only imagine the prayers she made, the tears she cried, the wail she let out. All I know is that her hope for better, for life for her son was fulfilled; and she got to raise him for pay from the very palace that his execution order had emanated! This is me breaking out into a Holy Ghost inspired dance. Hallelujah!
So now faith, HOPE, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. (Hebrews 11:1-2)
Rahab is introduced to us as a prostitute. Some Bible versions render that as Rahab the harlot. Not sure why harlot sounds more damning in my mind that prostitute. Anyhu, madam is one day minding her own business (insert Tabitha Brown’s voice) when two Israelite men entered her house. I have wondered how this exactly take place.
- Were the men running from someone and entered into the nearest open house?
- Did the men enter her house because it was the house of a prostitute?
- If they entered the house because it belonged to a prostitute, was there signage?
- How did that signage look like?
- Was the open for business sign on?
Whatever made then enter into Rahab’s house, I might never know; but enter they did. The King of Jericho is made aware that some two Israelite spies have come into his city. We are told that immediately the soldiers make a beeline to Rahab’s house. Again, maswali chungu nzima ninayo.
- Why Rahab’s house?
- Did they search other places ama the snitch told the King where the spies were hiding?
Rahab we are told hides the spies and lies to the soldiers that they already left. She then lets the two spies out of Jericho through her widow which was at the wall, how convenient, and tells them to hide for three days before crossing the Jordan back to their base camp. But before she lets them go, Rahab goes ahead and informs them that she knows exactly who they are, why they are there and who their God is. She then asks for a favour in return, that when they come to attack Jericho, because she knew they could come, that they spare her.
An agreement is made that features a scarlet cord, the same one she uses to let the men down the wall. The word scarlet reminds me of my late Maternal Grandmother Sarah Wanjiku. She always featured that term in her prayers:
Ona angĩkorwo mehĩa maĩtũ nĩ matũne ta mĩrĩ ya gakarakũ, woĩgĩre nĩũgatũtherĩa tũhane ta gũoya wa ngondũ
(Even if our sins are as red as scarlet (as red as the beetroot), you promised to wash us and make us as white as the wool from sheep)
Rahab the prostitute is the other woman apart from Sarah who is included in the Hebrews Hall of Faith. I am so glad that she is listed there and mentioned by name. She might have practiced a looked down upon trade, still looked down upon, but God looked upon her with mercy. She knew who He was. She made a deliberate and conscious decision to put her trust in Him. She decided to side with God and the people God called His. It was a good bet, it paid up 100% and over. Because this harlot Rahab not only gets saved when Israel attacks Jericho, she ends up right into the genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth!
So now FAITH, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
Love is a beautiful thing
Love is freeing
Love is safety
Love is comfort
Love is death
Love is life
Love is home
Time to live, be and become
What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done;
and there is nothing new under the sun.
Church history really intrigues me and leaves me with loads of mixed emotions. By church history I mean the timeframe since Jesus ascended into heaven until yesterday. Having been born and raised Pentecostal until I got drawn to the Anglican liturgy and found solace and hope there, I have had a somewhat front row seat into the ‘veiled’ evil and wickedness of man that church leaders have and continue to perpetuate in God’s Name, standing on God’s Word.
I neve cease to be amazed and aghast at how throughout history, church leaders prostituting with the political and wealthy class have colluded to defraud, merchandise and mete violence against their followers and followers of Jesus Christ. Two main reasons for this unholy alliances seem to be the recurring motivation: Money (is it a wonder that the Bible explicitly tells us that the love of money is the root cause of all evil) and Social acceptance (closely intertwined with a desire to maintain the status quo). On this duo alter, throughout church history, church leaders (mostly men) have figuratively and literally set ablaze anyone within the church who dared question them or go against them and their selfish corrupted interests.
To know is to bear a burden
A burden of responsibility
A responsibility to act or not to act
To action the knowledge
To walk away from the knowledge
Mary Magdalene knew who the Lord was
So she anointed Him with precious oil
So she never fled
So she was there at the tomb
So she met with Him
So He entrusted her with a message
October is a special month for me, for the reason that it is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. I have suffered the loss of two babies through miscarriages. What is unfortunate and what keeps me spreading awareness about pregnancy and infant loss is that to date I still suffer from shaming, silencing and all types of remarks mostly which revolve around ‘attention seeking. It is quite sad to see and hear debilitating stories of women who have gone through pregnancy and infant loss and the kind of treatment, especially in words (both written and spoken) that is levelled against their legitimate loss and pain.
Pregnancy is a hard journey. Science is still discovering all the effects pregnancy has on a woman’s overall health (mentally, emotionally, socially, physically, spiritually) both short and long term. Now compound those effects with a miscarriage or an infant loss. It really spirals to catastrophic lengths for me.
One of the reasons I actively participate in spreading awareness on pregnancy and infant loss awareness during the month of October as well as consciously talk about my experiences of child loss through miscarriages is that knowledge is power.
Knowledge is power
When I had my first miscarriage in March of 2010, I was lost. I felt alone. I was confused. I was overwhelmed. I really longed for answers, for conversations with kindred spirit but most were silent. Then I read a blog post by Becky Thompson and for the first time I had someone who had vocalised my worst pain. When Wanjiru Kihusa went ahead to share her story and begin Still A Mum, I felt so validated in all the emotions I had been going through. To hear stories of other women and be in a safe space where I did not feel ‘crazy’ or ‘weird’ or ‘something is wrong with me’. Meeting and getting to know Vivian Gaiko and the work she does with Empower Mama was so refreshing. It was such a healing moment to meet women like me, black women, Kenyan women, who shared my pain and my story; who understood my journey.
I realized then and even now that for many women going through pregnancy and infant loss, seclusion is the worst thing that can happen to you. Being along in your pain, unable to process it, put it into words, being misunderstood and sidelined, being hushed only adds salt to an open wound. That is why I write about my pain, my story and speak about it as well.
This morning I woke up to a retweet by Njoki Ngumi which had a trigger warning of a thread by Prof. Kate Antonova on miscarriage and all the complexity that is that word. I was not able to read past the first few tweets mostly because it was a description to the T of both my miscarriage experiences. It is a great awareness description of what really happens before, during and after a miscarriage, I encourage you to read it if you can.
I am convinced that if more women knew about pregnancy and infant loss, it would really ease all the pain that comes with this horrible experience. When I look back on both my miscarriage losses, knowing what I know now, I feel that things would definitely have been different. To know is to possess the power to make informed decisions and to grieve with awareness.
. . .
Shout out to my gynae of the last decade and counting. A woman who has cared and continues to care for my reproductive wellbeing. Me and mine are forever indebted to you Dr. Angela Chekoko Muliro. God eternally bless you for us.