Inauguration Day – Kamala and Amanda – Thecla and Saint Sarah-La-Kali and the Divine Feminine

Yesterday was a historic day in history of the United States of America. Kamala Debbie Harris was inaugarated as the first African-American, Southeast Asian Woman to the highest public office in the land. She represents that all things are possible to anyone, especially young girls that they can achieve anything if they put their minds to it.

Also, a powerful poem was read by Amanda Gorman bringing awareness to us that unity is possible, entitled The Hill We Climb:

When day comes we ask ourselves
Where can find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea we must wade,
We braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t
always peace…

Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves
And raised by a single mother
Can dream of becoming President
Only to find herself reciting for one.

We are striving to forge our Union-
with purpose,
To compose a country committed
To all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man
So we lift our gazes not to
But what stands before us.

Fierce and free
We will not be turned around or
Because we know our inaction and inertia
Will be the inheritance of the next
Our blenders become their burdens
But one thing is certain if we
merge mercy with might
And might with right then love
becomes our legacy
And change, our children’s

This reminds me of the story of “Paul and Thecla.” Paul is preaching for three days in Thecla’s hometown. She was a young teenage girl betrothed to be married. The birthright of girls throughout the Greco-Roman world was marriage and motherhood. Thecla refused to be married and chose to follow the Apostle Paul a itinerant preacher. Her mother and her fiancée accused Paul of being a magician. She visited him in prison and gave the gatekeeper her silver mirror. The governor of Iconium had Paul beaten and thrown out of the city. Thecla was sentenced to be burned since she refused to be married to her fiancée. When the fire burned around her, she made a sign of the cross, and was not burned. “For God, having compassion, caused a sound under the earth and a cloud filled with rain and hail, darkened the sky above, and the vessel poured forth all that was in it.” Thecla was saved.

In Antioch, a man named Alexander became enamored with her. He had to have her. She refused since she wanted to stay pure. He is the President of the city council and tries to force her to be his bride like what happened earlier in Iconium. She tears of his cloak and takes his crown from his head and publically shames him for trying to take her without his consent. She is then thrown to the Arena.

Many women protested her arrest and proclaimed her innocense. A huge lionness entered the arena, approaches Thecla, lays down and licks her feet. Thecla enters a pool filled with wild sea lions and says, “In the name of Jesus Christ, I baptize myself.” And she is suddenly protected with a ring of fire, and a glowing white robe surrounded her body. Paul proclaimed, “Go and teach the Word of God.

Thecla lived until she was 90, and was one of Paul’s faithful companions in his mission. It goes on to show that she took back her power from those that held it over her. From her mother who tried to marry her off to her past fiancee, and from Alexander who was infatuated with her who tried to force her to marry.

According to Megan Watterson, “there is a divine will within each of us which is aligned with our soul purpose. We remember what true power is when we divest all outside authority of the power we had been giving them. Power is calling back all the control we give to others to dictate our lives. Our potential life partners, family members, our culture, and even our Ego.”

Thecla reminds us to take our power back and be who we are called to be. We can cut our hair short and baptize ourselves. We can do whatever we want to do and become without the permission of anyone else. We have the divine fire within us, we do not have to give it away.

She asks us, where have I given my power away?

Her mantra is – I call back my power from all places and all times and all places.
I am my own and belong to me.

Thecla is a symbol of what it looks like to follow our own dream, to not be limited, and told who we are to become. Just like Kamala who is now Vice President of the United States and will be the first woman President of the United States, she is a symbol that anything is possible especially for all young girls throughout the United States. She gives young girls like my daughter, stepdaughter and nieces that all things are possible.

Just like Amanda Gorman, Thecla spoke and taught the Word of God, just as Amanda spoke truth and hope in poetic form to a nation torn by devisiveness, great divisions, a pandemic, economic struggles, and racial inequity. She gave us words of hope of unity, equity, peace, love, and truth. All attributes of the Divine.

And like Sarah-La-Kali, the supposed daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, she is a symbol of love, divine love and the divine saint of the outsiders and the Romani people. According to Megan Watterson, “Saint Sarah’s love is the kind that reaches you. There’s nothing you need to perfect or prove. There’s nothing you need to wait to become. There is only deep abiding truth that love is not outside of you, but inside of you. Our nature is perfect love. Love is also a destination where we will arrive someday when we are fully connected to the Divine at the end of the age. Saint Sarah is the healing that comes when we embody love again. In her poem, Amanda spoke of perfect love. This is the love that will heal our nation.

Theme of the Year – Surrender – Letting Go – Kenosis

5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

When I was walking the dogs this morning, I was praying about what my theme or word of the year would be. As I was picking up one of the dogs poop (I know not a very good word image), the word surrender and the phrase letting go or let go came to mind. I believe it was from the Holy Spirit.

In his book Simplicity – Freedom of Letting Go, Richard Rohr writes:

“The Gospel itself is about self-surrender, self-control is a masculine way of thinking, self surrender is perhaps a feminine way of thinking. This is no gentle Gospel. We’re evidently talking about the way of the cross, about a way of imitation and discipleship that calls upon us to surrender and let go.” (Richard Rohr – Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go)

Part of surrender is letting go of what I am striving for. Strife is different than endurance and pressing into something. Striving and strife is divisive where surrender is giving up for something greater than ourselves. It is saying, I give up and realize the way I have tried to live my life isn’t working, and I choose to surrender and let go of this way of life for something greater than myself.

In the 12 steps, this would be the crucial Step 3. Step 3 says, that I “made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understand God.” Rohr writes, “surrender will always feel like dying, and yet it is the necessary path to liberation.” (Richard Rohr – Breathing Under water). Through surrender, we let go of the Ego. The Ego is always grounded in pride. A person’s pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23 NRSV). The cycle of the Ego according to Rohr is power, control, being right. Letting go of my pride and Ego brings freedom, life, and peace. Part of surrender is renouncing self. Richard distinguishes between surrender and sacrifice. Sacrifice may seem loving, noble, and humble, but always points back to the self.

Paul talks about this in the above passage from Philippians where Jesus self-emptied himself (kenosis) taking the form of a human, a servant, and even to the point of death. The greatest expression of love is found within this kenotic love, and through humility, humbled himself to death, dying in a humiliating way on a cross. Jesus is the example of what self-surrender, and self-emptying motivated by love looks like.

There is freedom in letting go, turning my will over to God, and allowing God to direct my life. Please journey with me as I explore this theme of surrender in my life in 2021.

Prayer from Book of Common Prayer – Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving, we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Epiphany and the Insurrection – Ephesians 3:1-12

When the Christ appeared among the Aeons of Light, and the chaos was dispersed and perfectly pacified, all the sons and daughters of wisdom sang hymns with great joy to the Father, sharing much delight. With one will and purpose the entire Fullness of the Aeons — Christ and the Spirit were well pleased and the Father imposed His seal upon all. And this is the most perfect beauty and Star of the Pleroma, a perfect fruit, Jesus who was also named Savior and Christ and Word and All, because he is from all. (From Gnostic Fathers)

3 This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles.
2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? 3 God showed me his secret plan in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before (4 when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan about Christ). 5 Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. 6 This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.
8 God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 9 God sent me to reveal the secret plan that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. 10 God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. 11 This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him. (Ephesians 3:1-12 CEB)

This week is the first week of the church season of Epiphany. Epiphany literally means “a manifestation of a divine supernatural being,” or “a moment of sudden revelation or insight.” Literally in Greek, Epiphany means “manifestation.” Characteristically the color that associates with the Season of Epiphany is both green and white. White is the color of the day of Epiphany.

In the passage above from the book of Ephesians, Paul mentions that God revealed to him a secret plan that has been hidden from the beginning of time. So this plan which was manifested to Paul was first that gentiles would be coheirs with the Jews through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Second that this purpose was to show the rulers and powers in the heavenly realms that God’s wisdom (Sophia) is now manifested through the church (ecclesia).

Also, from the passage from the Gnostic Fathers, Jesus was the divine revelation from the heavenly realms which dispersed chaos, and bright shining star for all to see.

Now, on the flip side, on January 6, 2021, many Trumpists stormed the Capital Building in Washington and broke up Congress as they were certifying the 2020 election results where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris defeated Donald J. Trump and Mike Pence to become the 46 President and Vice President of the United States. This insurrection supported by President Trump also revealed how divided our nation has become. Just like King Herod who had male babies killed in Bethlehem and its surrounding region, Trumpists attempted to overthrow the will of the people and threaten American Democracy. Property was destroyed, and some police officers protecting the capital lost their life.

We need more than ever, a divine revelation of the Christ in our country. Just like Paul was describing the divine plan of both Jews and Gentiles being coheirs of the Gospel, both the political left and right can also be united around the love of Jesus. The Christ Consciousness and through the Holy Spirit can true peace happen. Jesus is the “Prince of Peace” and “Wonderful Counselor.” He is the one that truly bring “peace on earth” Below are lyrics and a video from U2’s song “Peace on Earth.”

Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth
To tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth

Jesus in the song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on Earth
Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won’t rhyme
So what’s it worth?
This peace on Earth
Peace on Earth —

As you watch the above video, what does it mean to you and look like to have “peace on earth.” How has God’s plan been revealed to you in the Gospel. What does it look like for Jesus to be present in your life.

Collect of Epiphany from Book of Common Prayer

O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son
to the Peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by
faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to
face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns
with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

First Sunday after Christmas – John 1:1-18 – Light within the Truth – WW84

14 The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.

16 From his fullness we have all received
grace upon grace;
17 as the Law was given through Moses,
so grace and truth came into being
through Jesus Christ.
18 No one has ever seen God.
God the only Son,
who is at the Father’s side,
has made God known. (John 1:14, 16-18 CEB)

Then the Son who is perfect in every respect—that is, 5 the Word who originated through that Voice; who proceeded from the height; who has within him the Name; who is a Light—he (the Son) revealed the everlasting things and all the unknowns were known. 10 And those things difficult to interpret and secret, he revealed, and as for those who dwell in Silence with the First Thought, he preached to them. And he revealed himself to those who dwell in darkness, and 15 he showed himself to those who dwell in the abyss, and to those who dwell in the hidden treasuries he told ineffable mysteries, and he taught unrepeatable doctrines to all those who became Sons of 20 the Light. (Trimorphic Protennoia, 4-10)

I am the Invisible One within the All. 25 It is I who counsel those who are hidden, since I know the All that exists in it. I am numberless beyond everyone. I am immeasurable, ineffable, yet whenever I [wish, I shall] reveal myself 30 of my own accord. I [am the head of] the All. I exist before the [All, and] I am the All, since I [exist in] everyone.
I am a Voice [speaking softly]. I exist [from the first. I dwell] within the Silence 35 [that surrounds every one] of them. 36 And [it is] the [hidden Voice] that [dwells within] me, [within the] incomprehensible, immeasurable [Thought, within the] immeasurable Silence.
(Trimorphic Protennoia, 24-36)

My family and I were watching Wonder Woman 1984 today and other than the 80’s nostalgia, it was fairly good action/super hero movie. What struck me about this movie was the the plot was about this wishing stone created by the gods that granted wishes and took from people what was most dear to them. In order to undue the damage done by the wishing stone’s magick, a person had to renounce their wish.

The main character, Diana/Wonder Women’s wish was that her long lost love would come back to life which he did reincarnated in another body. Yet in order for her wish to be granted, her super powers were taken away from her. Also the antagonist desired to become the wishing stone to gain the world’s power, influence, and wealth. Yet as the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the midst of gaining everything he wanted, he nearly brought world destruction by bringing the United States and the Soviet Union on the brink of nuclear war. Wonder Woman tried to show convince him that gaining the whole world was not worth losing his life and bringing world destruction. She said something that was profound that goes along with today’s gospel reading, “all there is, is the truth. Nothing else matters, the truth is the most beautiful thing there is.” She lassoed his leg with the golden lasso, to show him what he would lose in his wishes were granted. The most dear thing in his life was his son. He loved his son more than worldly influence, power, and wealth. It was enough to get him to renounce and have the world renounce their wishes.

Truth is beautiful. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is the truth, and it says, you will “know (ginosko) the truth and the truth will set you free. In John’s prologue (John 1:1-18), the Christ embodied both grace and truth. Grace and truth is so much greater than the Law. The law provides guidelines, principles, and boundaries, but isn’t truth itself. Jesus embodied both grace and truth. Grace being God’s undeserved favor, and truth being all that there is. As God became flesh, through the incarnation, Jesus embodied what it meant to be the light, to be full of grace and truth. As a co-creator with the Divine, being embodied in the truth is relational and is realized by being in an intimate relationship with Jesus.

The second text is taken from the Sethian Gnostic Text from the Nag Hammadi codex, The Trimorphic Protennoia, which describes how the light became known emanated through the Divine Feminine and the Word embodied by the eternal son. This text is similar to the prologue in John’s Gospel. Why I selected this text is because of how the Son reveals things that are hidden and brings them into the light. Since he is the light and he is the truth, he embodied and made known what was unknown. According to Nicola Denzey Lewis:

“The kind of divine power we call “immanence” and it central to the theology of the TriPot. Repeatedly, we read that Protennoia (first thought) indwells the cosmos, including all human beings (35:12). We ourselves contain the Protennoia, the divine First Thought…Although Gnosticism is widely mischaracterized as an elitist movement, the theology of Triprot is far from elite; it makes clear that everyone has a “seed” of the divine within, and that the divine voice can call out from within all people.” (Lewis, Introduction to Gnosticism, pages 200-201)

Nicola Lewis distinguishes between John’s prologue and the Gnostic Trimorphic Protennoia in that John’s Gospel and prologue is still dualistic where the light (as Jesus) shines in the darkness and is distinct from the world that was created through him. Where within the Trimorphic Protennoia, all of creation has within them the divine spark and voice that calls out from the silence. Jesus came as the light to reveal that divine spark that is within all of creation.

To conclude, all of us are seekers of the truth. The truth of who we are as being part of the Divine and Sons and Daughters of the light (Children of God) is so much better than absolute power, wealth, and influence. Like most of us, we look from outside ourselves for what we are not instead of looking from within. Just as Diana/Wonder Woman renounced the wish, we too need to renounce those things that we believe will give us power, influence, and wealth instead of being who we are. True abundance and blessing comes from within, not outside ourselves.

Collect of the Day – Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, you have poured upon us the new light of
your incarnate Word: Grant that this light, enkindled in our
hearts, may shine forth in our lives; through Jesus Christ our
Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy
Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.