My True Love Gave To Me: A Vision of Women
On the last day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me a beautiful vision of women. This is, of course, a vision of women across the world but more specifically of the women in my flesh-and-blood life, here in my little Anglican neck of the woods with Churches for the Sake of Others. I attend Christ the King Anglican church, and the handful of women there are to me my full-blood sisters. They’re the ones who stand in the foggy mirror with me to tell me what they see. They’re the ones who sing the sweetest songs to Jesus, no doubt the ones who would run with me – even from tombs, from the shadow of death – to announce resurrection.
If you follow the Christian calendar, today is the last day of Christmas, and the eve of Epiphany, which means that we are about to have a collective ah-ha moment, an awakening to Jesus as the Son of God, born to a woman as one of us. One with us.
And when unto Mary a child was born, so was the declaration of God’s love for us all, because we all came this way, even from the underside of a woman, which must mean that even after all the systems of the world have claimed us under their powers – though they have been built on our backs and through our wombs – even after all the bad fruit we’ve eaten and bore, God must have a different idea of us. When Jesus was born of Mary, God was born of a woman, and this is the EPIPHANY that causes wise men to bow down with most exquisite gifts.
He must have loved us so.
Myhrr was one of the gifts they brought, and it is a perfume, an incense, and a medicine. When people harvest myrrh, they wound the trees repeatedly to bleed them.
As Jesus grew to be a man, I wonder what Mary did with that myrrh. Did she open it once in a while? Did she use it to clean a wound of her own? She must have been created, like the rest of us, with the capacity for God. Mary literally knew her capacity for God, the swell of her abdomen and the blood and water that came forth with His arrival. She certainly had a wound, multiple wounds. Imagine the talk of the town. Imagine, men, what kind of counter-cultural statement you would have to make to stand at the gate with Mary.
We don’t have to have given birth to know what this says about God’s love for women and about our place in His kingdom. The word of God implanted into her, and no man had a thing to do with it, but the Holy Spirit must have spoken to the men who needed to know – to Joseph and to the wise men and even to the infant John the Baptist. There were men who kept her safe and made a way for her to do the work she was called to do. These are the men privileged to witness Messiah as a woman’s son. What a privilege!
When Jesus had breathed his last, Joseph of Arimathea asked for his body and prepared him for burial using myhrr. Nicodemus was a myrhh bearer as well, but there were also four Marys and Joanna, Salome, and Susanna. These are the women who ministered to Jesus from their own resources, and these women were eyewitnesses to his return after death. They were sent to go tell the Apostles, and since an apostle is “one who is sent” or “messenger,” maybe in a sense they were apostles to the apostles. Maybe that’s a leap, but they were no doubt ministers and great leaders in the church.
They went to the tomb with their myhrr and their spices, and Jesus was not there dead. He had risen, so what did they do with the myrrh then? Maybe they took it back home and put it on the shelf, but I have to believe you could smell these women before you could see them. I have to believe that even before they came shouting, there was a sense in the air that something was coming, and it was good. It was a woman. And she knew Jesus, and she smelled like a prayer.
And she went on having babies, and now here we all are, all of us still bearing the myrrh.
Women of Christ the King, let’s celebrate Epiphany like it’s a day that makes the powers of this world bend their glad, weak knees. Let’s celebrate Epiphany like we’re women with a message!
photo by Seth Haines
If you’re full of desire and looking to cure a homesickness, I invite you to read my story,
On Chasing Desire and Finding the Broken Way Home.