Sinner, Do You Love My Jesus? Dishing Before That Da Vinci Dame

They tell me, dishing isn't what goes on in the kitchen after supper. It is what happens when women, young and old, talk. I mean, talk! 'Of real things, exciting things, serious things, things that fire their imagination (wholesome or otherwise). It's a province reserved for them, where few if any… men… are allowed to go. Well, on the way to the cross, surprise, surprise, Jesus went there! He had a connection, a converting, life changing, eternity offering presence in the midst of those who get real when they get together. All of us, girl scouts to grown ups, female and male, can learn from this. So, sinner, do you love my Jesus… dishing… even before that Da Vinci Dame; you know, that one with the suppose-ed Code.

It's Lent. Focus on Jesus on the way to Calvary! It's Girl Scout Sunday. Celebrate girls growing into Christian womanhood. Is there way to see the two together? Enter the Da Vinci Code, the 5 million copy, rip-roarin', Dan Brown bestseller, soon a Ron Howard/Tom Hanks movie. Many have read it. Most have heard about it. Newsweek made it a cover story at Christmas. A page-turner. But it raises profound questions most of us aren't ready to answer. About Jesus; Jesus and women. The Bible. The faith.

This is not a book review; it's God's message. But it is a good time to confront hard questions from this book. [Thanks, Jn. Ortberg.]: Are there ancient documents about Jesus outside the New Testament? Yes. Are they as or more reliable? No. Was Jesus married: to Mary Magdalene? No and no. Did they have a child? No. Was Leonardo Da Vinci part of a secret organization that knew about this? No. Do we know why the New Testament includes the books it does? Yes. Was Jesus human or divine? Both. What was the Holy Grail, and will we find it? Who knows? Did you get all that? Maybe you don't have to, if you get this. The book's a fiction. The Bible is not. Knowing the difference makes all the difference. We get confused, girls and boys, women and men, believers, non-believers and seekers, when we don't know the difference between what the Scripture says and what folks say it says. 'When we don't know how it came to be, but let others insist they know what it is. We get in trouble, spiritual trouble, when we know almost nothing of the Word, so we'll fall for almost anything said about the Word. Clever Dan Brown, Tim LaHaye, more, profit on our unknowing. Whew! There's a load off. Now, let's get back to dishing with Jesus!

Good news for girls and boys, women and men, you and me. With Jesus, nobody's just cheezed off, written off, a no-account. In his day, this day, everybody counts with Jesus! Allison Simpkins gets baptized today. She needs to know. There are Girl Scouts in our midst. They need to know. We need to know. We all need to know about Jesus with those who are put down and left out. Clearly, in Jesus' day, that was girls, women, most of all. Although in different ways, it's still true today, the world around.

The Da Vinci Code says Christ and the Church participated in the put down. Scripture says just the opposite! Consider, most rabbis of Jesus' time de-valued women. Some said, "Better the Torah (Law) be burned than taught to women." A common 1st century rabbis' prayer, "Blessed art Thou, oh God, who did not make me a woman." Some rabbis would not only not talk to or teach a woman (believing she'd make them unclean), they wouldn't even look at one. If, out of the corner of their eyes, they saw a woman coming, they'd close their eyes 'til she passed. They were forever falling, running into stuff. Honest! They were called the "bruised and bleeding rabbis." 'Rather hurt themselves than look at a woman.

Now, LOOK AT JESUS, according to Luke, "…Jesus traveled from one town to another proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. The twelve were with him and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household, Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means." (Luke 8: 1-3) Imagine how shocking this was in Jesus' time. To men folk, religious folk! Wanna know how Jesus treasured women? Watch and listen while he talks to Mary and Martha, dishing over their distresses with each other. "Hmpf, she won't even do the dishes, she just sits here with you!" "Jesus, how she bugs me, so uptight about the small things; she never sees the big picture." Christ enters into their distress and sets their priorities on love for each other and for God's Kingdom. Our Bibles don't hide Jesus from women, young or old. He's with that Samaritan woman at the well outside town. She's there 'cause the women in town can't stand her, trust her, won't even draw water with her. After all, she's been through 5 husbands. The 1 she's got now belongs to 1 of them! Jesus turns her life, her world, her eternity around, offers her the living water that quenches body and soul!

A woman's place may or may not be in the kitchen, but it has always been in the Body of Christ, the Church. Of all people, women, young and old, are most often expected to live by somebody else's standards. Expectations. Permissions. If you've got a wife, sister, daughters, nieces or granddaughters, this oughta really make you angry. Who decided the-loves-we-love-best oughta settle for what life has left? According to the Code, Jesus and his church are to blame. Jesus says. "Not in my name!" (Sadly, the church has sometimes been untrue to our Lord and unloving to our sisters.) Both the Bible and our history tell a different story! Jesus won't go to the cross without welcoming women. Did you hear Luke just now? The women were supporting Jesus' ministry out of their own means! …Payin' the bills. It's sensitive, even now, when a wife earns more than a husband. Jesus wasn't threatened or demeaned. So startling was this, so deep the image of Jesus with women included in his church, Paul writes, "There is now neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3:28) Tell Allison; let the scouts know; let everybody not male know. Your dignity, your value is in Christ, and in your own soul, not in the approval or opinion of others. You don't have to starve or purge to a size 4. Or pretend you're dumber than the boys in math to be popular. You don't have to not lead in church because of what Paul wrote in the Bible. (Forget what the Code says, the Book just wants to distinguish Christ-ian women from those who will sell-out their bodies and souls for somebody else's idea of what's holy.) Some of you watch the TV Bachelor or Bachelorette. I read where Jen Schefft, 28, told 25 guys, after a season of dating, none of them were good enough to capture her heart! Good for her if, she figured out, "I don't have to be desperate, please others, or march to someone else's tune (not even down the wedding aisle in one of the 900 gowns in just one of scores of bridal magazines on store shelves today.) I don't know Jen, 'never seen her. But I hope she's figured out what Scripture and I are saying. Dignity comes from being God's child, creature, creation, borrowing our every breath from heaven. Neither male nor female, but God's own. Jen's worth, yours, mine, doesn't come from partnering with each other, but with Christ himself, who defeats the cross for the sake of our victory before the throne of God. Which brings us to this:

Far from hidden, the hope of the world has traveled on the hearts and the lips of women. Let the men say, "Amen!" Let everybody come and see, listen and believe. To me, there's no great secret shut up in the Holy Book. Dan Brown's dead wrong. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John have got it right. Here's the divine dish, among women, and men, youth and aged, and between them all. "Christ died for our sins, was buried, was raised on the third day, and appeared first to the women, then Peter and the twelve, and then to many faithful witnesses." [UMH 888] We need to get this. At the foot of the cross when all the men were too afraid, the women stayed. It could've ended there. Paul's right, "If Christ be not raised from the dead, our hope is in vain." (1 Cor.15: 14) Whom do we thank for first word, at first light, come Easter? A Woman! Mary Magdalene, "apostle to the apostles," whose testimony no Roman court would have accepted. She was not a man. But God in Christ took it for glory's sake! So much for Dan Brown's (divine feminine and the) idea Jesus and the church put women down. There's no higher place or greater call than spreading the resurrection news around. When I look on Allison, on these girls with their sacred scout faces, when I look at the living woman-witnesses here taking their places, I am reminded of Jesus and his own. Women and men. Long before Da Vinci and his distant Mona Lisa, there were the sacred dames, if we can call them that, who dished the divine with Jesus. With Jesus, nobody's written off, every soul is sacred on the way to the cross. There's a place… for all who love Jesus, and are called, according to Christ's purpose. And there is cause for deep thanks, for hearts that beat with his love, and lips that carry his praise… beginning, we are told, with the women! Thanks be to God.

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