Five Musings on Mary Magdalene

mmThis piece was developed during the first Bartimaeus Institute Online Cohort (2015-2016), aka “The Feminary.”  These pieces will eventually be published in a Women’s Breviary collection.  For more information regarding the Feminary go here

By Adella Barrett

I sometimes wonder if Christ will always be an abstraction to me.
Some days I do not know much of him but that he, too, was tended by women, fed by them.
Some days I think of Mary Magdalene keeping the fire or cooking the fish,
the way she baked the bread and the way she was trusted,
and this
I can understand. Continue reading “Five Musings on Mary Magdalene”


rizpah.jpgThis piece was developed during the first Bartimaeus Institute Online Cohort (2015-2016), aka “The Feminary.”  These pieces will eventually be published in a Women’s Breviary collection.  For more information regarding the Feminary go here

By Adella Barrett

The king took the two sons of Rizpah…whom she bore to Saul…and the five sons of Merab… and gave them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they impaled them on the mountain before the Lord. The seven of them perished together. They were put to death in the first days of harvest, at the beginning of barley harvest. Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it on a rock for herself, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell on them from the heavens; she did not allow the birds of the air to come on the bodies by day, or the wild animals by night.

2 Samuel 21: 8-10

It was during the time of the dry winds,
the barley white for harvest, the apricot and almond trees in bloom.
It was when the land began to ripen,
when the hands of the people were ready for gathering,
that Rizpah lost her sons. Continue reading “Rizpah”

Finding our Voice

mary mToday on the Feast of Magdalene, we continue our biblical women series. This time with a male voice. But here Bill Wylie-Kellermann offers a sermon with Peter apologizing to Mary Magdalene.

John 20:1-18

There is a sweet irony, perhaps several, in St Peter’s hosting this service for the Feast of Mary Magdalene, one which makes this traditional gospel for the day more than appropriate.

John’s gospel is among the later to be written. The footrace, on the one hand so exuberant and on the other, so competitive, between Peter and John (or the other disciple) reflects within the text a certain struggle for leadership. Between Mary’s discovery of the empty tomb and her encounter with the Risen Lord, it poses the question: Who got there first? Well, John is fleeter and arrives first, but Peter entered in first, but then John looked around and was first to believe. Is this a carefully negotiated settlement or what? Continue reading “Finding our Voice”

Mary and Martha

Mary-Martha-Lazarus.jpgBy Laurel Dykstra

Luke 10. 38-42

I don’t like the story of Mary and Martha.

Most of us already know if we are more like Mary, who sits at Jesus’ feet, or more like Martha, who is distracted by her many tasks. And it seems to me that no matter how nice they try to be about it, most of the sermons and commentaries on this passage seem to say, “Yay Mary and Boo Martha” Continue reading “Mary and Martha”

The Woman with an Issue of Blood

clayBy Denise Griebler. Part of a continuing series on badass women in the bible.

“If I could but touch the hem of his garment.
If I could but touch a part of his robe
I know I’d be healed, my sins all forgiven.
If I could but touch him I know I’d be whole.”
– the chorus of a gospel song by Rev. George A Rice

Matthew 9:18-25; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:41-56

The story goes that while Jesus was walking through a crowd, she touched him and was restored to herself.  Imagine that gutsy move.

She’d been hemorrhaging for twelve years.  Her search for a cure had bled her of everything she had and after all that, her condition was worse not better.  Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza says through this woman we glimpse of  the impoverishment of the permanently ill.  And she didn’t just suffer an incurable illness, but she was also permanently unclean and impure.  Whomever she touched would also be made unclean.  Imagine 12 years of untouched isolation. Continue reading “The Woman with an Issue of Blood”

Persistent Widow

valerie.jpgBy Lindsay Airey

2He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. 3In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ 4For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, 5yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’”   -Luke 18:2-5


To understand why the Persistent Widow jumps off her small passage in the biblical narrative, startles me into attention, and lovingly beckons me to see and follow her, I first need to give some context. I have been in an active process of 12-step Recovery for a little over a year now. This kind of Recovery is a process that, among other things, encourages me to practice loving myself enough to advocate for myself. It’s the kind of Recovery that’s been helping me to unlearn codependent ways—taking false responsibility for people, only to find myself all dried up at the end of the day. Continue reading “Persistent Widow”


DSC_0158.JPGBy Tevyn East, Carnival de Resistance

“So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again.”      Numbers 12: 15

In May of 2012, I entered into an artistic collaboration with Jay Beck, my now husband and partner in producing the Carnival de Resistance. We had established that I would come up to Philadelphia and together we would create works of theater that re-contextualize stories from scripture, based around each of the four elements: Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. Immediately upon landing, we discerned that we would first focus on the voice of water and that I would delve into the story of Miriam, Moses’ sister. Little did I know that this choice would throw me straight into the deep end! Continue reading “Miriam”

The Woman Who Built a Soulmaking Room


John August Swanson’s image “The Jester” seems to capture the story of the Shunammite woman who builds a room for the holy. Support more of John’s incredible art and revolutionary vision (in affordable cards, prints) at

By Dee Dee Risher. Part of the continuing series on biblical women.

The Bible comes to us out of a patriarchal culture. At the same time, I believe firmly that the hand of the Spirit of God shaped what was recorded, however troubling or puzzling; however these recordings may reflect the dynamics of oppression in this world rather than the creative liberation I feel is core to the reign of God. I hold these two realities in tension.

Because of this conviction, I pay constant attention to the stories of women who do break into Scripture. Most of them are, predictably, relegated to the margins. They can appear sidekicks to the “real” stories of the (male) prophets, kings, patriarchs, warriors, and holy men. Yet hidden precisely within these “narratives of the margins” are the rankling questions that upset the power structures and interrogate our assumptions about God. Continue reading “The Woman Who Built a Soulmaking Room”

Infinite Circles: Celebrating Female Friendship in the Bible and Beyond

By Cara Curtis, a lifelong Quaker, a student at Harvard Divinity School, and a fan of noodles of all kinds. This piece is part of the ongoing series on badass biblical women.IMG_3146

When I think about the idea of “badass women of the Bible,” my mind immediately jumps to the several courageous and fierce ladies of scripture who pull off daring and deeply powerful acts. The Magnificat is a downright badass poem. Esther was clearly not one to be messed with. Ruth has a whole book commemorating her faith and story. I celebrate these women in all of their strength and power, as well as the many others like them whose acts of faith and bravery were not preserved for us in the canon. But you know that saying, “behind every successful man is a strong and wise woman”? In my experience, this is just as true of successful women–in fact, I’ve often found that it takes a whole community of women encouraging and supporting each other for acts of deep caring, bravery, justice, and truth telling to become possible. Simply put, badass women help each other be more badass! Continue reading “Infinite Circles: Celebrating Female Friendship in the Bible and Beyond”

Mary and Elizabeth

mary and elizabeth.jpgBy Lydia Wylie-Kellermann

Reflection written up from a homily given at St. Peter’s Episcopal Detroit on December 20, 2015.

Luke 1: 39-56

I wonder about the beginning of this reading. “Mary went with haste….” It seems like there are three possibilities for this. First is that she was so excited and filled with anticipation that she fled to a friend she loved. I think this is our most common interpretation. But I think it more likely the second or third possibility. Either she was sent away out of shame and embarrassment for three months. Or as I did more reading, it seems likely that being pregnant and not married with her status was actually cause for being stoned to death. She may have been fleeing for her life. Continue reading “Mary and Elizabeth”