What is Philoxenia? When I first heard this word, I wondered if I had just stumbled upon a new kind of flower, Philoxenia… sort of like a Xenia or phlox or a Xenia crossed with a phlox to create a whole new flower. It’s not a flower, it is the Greek word for Hospitality. It literally means Philo or Love; Xenia or Stranger; put together it means LOVE OF STRANGER.
Hospitality then is the act of making strangers feel loved, as if they belong, welcome—like family. Hospitality is another thread that is woven throughout the entire Bible.
Growing up in the church, hospitality was more about making sure the coffee was on and the donuts and cookies were placed out on the serving table. We had a hospitality committee, usually made up of women, who made sure there were plenty of good things to eat and coffee to drink—cool-aid for the children and decaf for the senior folks. And we would gather in the fellowship hall after the morning service to share in a time of “fellowship”. Because what else would one do in a fellowship hall? I loved this time because it meant that I could play just a bit longer with my friends before we all went home for Sunday dinner. Continue reading Philoxenia: Love of the Stranger
How might we find our way Biblically around DACA? If the Bible is our compass and guide, what might we find that would give us direction as believers on various immigration issues such as DACA? And what insights can we gain to discern about the construction of walls? As one following the legislation currently being debated, lawmakers are considering tying the building of a wall between Mexico and the US to DACA legislation. As a means of self-disclosure, I favor a comprehensive immigration reform to create a better, more humane immigration system in this country.
What is DACA?
DACA recipients are the DREAMERS who long to be welcome and have a future within the country they grew up. DACA stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. What that means is that if a person came as a child, deportation action could be deferred. Those who came to this country as children did not have the ability to choose but came with their parents. Many young people who came as children grew up in this country and it is the only country they have ever known. According to a Supreme Court decision in the 1980’s, the court determined that it was in the best interests of this nation that unauthorized children should be allowed to receive a public education. We have approximately 790,000 unauthorized immigrants who have received DACA status. DACA was to be renewable every two years provided the conditions were met. Continue reading Why Every Bible-Believing Christian Should Support DACA
What does the Bible have to say about sexual harassment, sexual assault and the #MeToo experiences that are coming to light? And how might the Bible reveal how the distortion of power can create conditions for a #MeToo culture.
I believe God is a purging our country today and powerful people are being exposed because they have abused their power and have exploited men and women sexually. Many believe that sexual harassment and assault are primarily about sex and desire and indeed sex has something to do with it but harassment, assault ,abuse and rape are about entitlement, power and about powerful people exploiting the vulnerabilities of others. Sometimes that power is physical strength but often times that power is from a higher position entailing more social status or the power to offer jobs or take them away. Sometimes it is the power of an older adult exploiting the inexperience and gullibility of the young. Continue reading Biblical #MeToo Stories
The Bible is filled with images of Jesus eating with people, hanging out with people, welcoming people, eating with all sorts of seemly and unseemly people. He was accused of eating with tax collectors and sinners… seriously, the worst kind of people. While invited to the table of Simon the Pharisee (who did not wash his feet and welcome him) in Luke 7, he was adequately welcomed by the sinful woman who crashed the party and washed Jesus feet with her hair.
Even in the book of Acts one of their first controversies was over who they should eat with… Gentiles or their own kind and whether they should eat–meat sacrificed to idols or not? Paul and Peter clashed in the Epistles over the fact that Peter had avoided eating with Gentiles because the Judizer’s might disapprove and consider him defiled for sharing the table with Gentile believers. Somehow the idea of eating and drinking is tied up with the new community that has been created in Christ Jesus. Continue reading The Lord’s Supper Crosses All Borders
One of the most challenging issues in the church is this idea that marriage involves a husband having authority OVER his wife. I can’t tell you how many marriages have been harmed by this teaching and how often a marriage is reduced by teachings such as this. Marriage is not a business or a corporation in which one person is leader over the other and decides what is best for another person. Marriage is about two human beings being in an intimate relationship with one another within which each one is honored and respected. It is in the family that we and our children learn how to live justly in community. That is why mutual submission is so important.
This idea of husbands being in authority over a wife comes from the patriarchal ideals common in the first century when women were given to further the honor or wealth of a given family. She was more of a traded commodity than a person. In the first century women were considered less human, imperfect or less formed males, and inferior beings with less rational abilities. They were also considered more easily deceived and childlike, therefore in need of a ruler. Continue reading Mutual Submission in a Christlike Marriage
I’ve been reflecting on recent headlines about the emergence or re-emergence of white supremacy. I’ve been especially disturbed by how quiet my tribe is and by how defensive conversations around race are among my faith group. I can’t speak for everyone but I can share about some of the myths that were commonly discussed when I was growing up.
I grew up in a rural/suburban mostly white culture around good hardworking people who went to church, loved their neighbors and were largely good citizens. Most would never march or support a white supremacist cause or overtly try to hurt anyone. In fact the unspoken rule was “don’t hurt anyone and be nice to everyone.” Nevertheless, racism was a part of the folk Christianity that I grew up with. And I use the word folk Christianity because I believe these myths are aberrations and not a part of true Christianity. I hope to refute these myths as simply as I can.
The first myth I encountered was the “Curse of Ham.” The curse of Ham was drawn from the story of Noah found in Genesis 9:18-27. Noah had planted a vineyard and made some wine and after an evening of drinking he became drunk and naked. One of his son’s noticed that he was naked and told the others who walked in backwards and covered him with a robe. Ham the one who found his father drunk and naked was cursed. Ham founded the Canaanites. As folk religion does, this text was applied to African-Americans who had come from Africa in slave ships to the US serving many years in forced slavery. The curse implied that Ham’s descendents would serve his brothers Shem and Japheth. Then I was shown a map of where each son of Noah settled and naturally the map showed that Ham settled in Africa. It was inferred then that such people were cursed by God and destined for service to the people who settled in Europe and the Americas. Continue reading 6 Ways The Bible Was Hijacked to Support Racism.
by Faith Totushek.
Frequently Jezebel is a label that many Christian women receive if they believe in the full equality of men and women in the home and church or if they consider themselves Christian Feminists. Both feminism and egalitarianism are labels that are vastly misunderstood in the church and have had their meanings co opted by opponents who define them as in some sense women who are out for power over men, unwilling to submit to authority, men haters and those who would support abortion. In reality this is not true. These are myths.
1. Are feminists and egalitarians out for power over men?
Often I hear feminists and egalitarians described as those who have a Jezebel Spirit. The Jezebel Spirit is described as someone who seeks control over passive men who are unable to speak up for themselves and are seduced by women to give over control of their lives. Such women are considered dangerous to the church and home. In reality, as women and men develop emotional and spiritual maturity, they begin to have stronger voices and a stronger sense of identity. This kind of growth leads to an ability to say what one believes and ask for what one needs as well as the ability to differentiate oneself from the self of others. If an individual does not have a strong sense of self they will often process a request as someone trying to control them. It has nothing to do with power over and everything to do with asking for what one wants or needs. Often the Jezebel label is given to any woman who is merely seeking to have a share in decision making or wishes to serve in an area that is most often dominated by men. To aspire to be a pastor or a leader can bring the label Jezebel to many.
Continue reading 4 Common Myths About Christian Feminists and Egalitarians
by Faith Totushek.
Mark 11:12-22 tells us the remarkable account of the fig tree and the temple. These stories are strung together to teach us a number of things about how our faith might be hi-jacked to represent not the character, image and heart of God but nationalism and earthly systems of power, oppression and corruption.
As Jesus is riding into Jerusalem, he notices a fig tree and examines it to see if there is fruit. Finding no fruit, he curses it, saying, “may no one eat fruit from you again.” What’s going on? Why would Jesus do this? What does he have against fig trees? The cursing of the fig tree is a prophetic act that hints at what might happen in Jerusalem.
When Jesus arrives in Jerusalem he makes his way to the temple. Actually, if you look at verse 11, you will notice that Jesus had been to the temple the night before but returned to where he was staying because it was late. I find this curious, wondering if he took note of what was occurring in the temple and what it stood for and returned home to consider what he saw.
In the morning we see Jesus entering the Temple and driving out the animals and money changers and those who were selling animals for sacrifice. And Jesus says this, “My house will be a house of prayer for all nations but you have made it a den of thieves.” Was he concerned about selling stuff in the Temple? Was he concerned that the activity would disrupt prayer time? Seriously, this is how the account is often taught.
But there is some much deeper taking place. Continue reading How the Fig Tree that Jesus Cursed Represents Nationalism
by Faith Totushek
Who are the poor in scripture and how are they to be treated among the community of God’s people? As believers and those who believe the Bible is our guide, we might examine the many stories, and passages in the Bible to find our way through the various conundrums our society faces. Especially as believers, we have a great and holy call to be agents of God and healers of a sin-sick world.
The group I wish to examine in the Bible are the widows, orphans and foreigners. They are described as the vulnerable ones who need the extra support and focus from God’s people. They are also the ones whom God has said that He himself would defend.
Who are the widows? Widows often become poor or socially vulnerable due to the loss of a husband. This could apply to women who are divorced and raising small children, to women who are emotionally abandoned through abuse and neglect by a spouse. These are women whose husbands have died and are now vulnerable in the community. Continue reading Caring For The Vulnerable Among Us
by Faith Totushek
Why am I a peace and justice Charismatic Christian or a Holy Spirit Activist? I’ve pondered that for a few weeks and here is where my heart is. God’s people, right from the beginning, have been given a great and holy call to be agents of God and image God on the earth. So I will begin where the Bible begins, in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Continue reading The Great and Holy Call