OWL Scripture Reflection – August 2023

Bold Creativity in Times of Oppression

By Rev Amy Johnson

August 2023

God rewarded the midwives, and the people increased in number and power.

~Exodus 1:20 The Inclusive Bible

Bans on medical care for trans youth.

Reproductive health access restricted nationwide.

Sex education and educators targeted.

Allies’ lives on the line.

It’s easy to get discouraged when we watch justice being systemically dismantled before our very eyes.

Had there been the internet during a time when a new Pharaoh came to power in Egypt, we might have seen similar stories online then. Unpleased with how powerful the Israelites had become, this new Pharaoh used his power and privilege to order/legislate midwives Shiphrah and Puah to kill any male Hebrew babies they were called to assist being born.

Shiphrah and Puah did not do what Pharaoh told them to do; they ignored the instructions. And when called to account for letting male babies live, they told Pharaoh that those Hebrew women were so robust that they had already delivered the babies by the time the midwives arrived to help. In my sanctified imagination, I see these two wise women giving Pharaoh the ol’ shrug. Whaddayagonnado?

Scripture tells us that these women were God-fearing, and that God rewarded them. Shiphrah and Puah were more concerned with upholding a vision of God’s justice than they were with following the letter of a Pharaoh’s decree.

As followers of Jesus, it’s not news to us that some laws are unjust and do not serve the most vulnerable and marginalized among us. We are aware there are people who work together to weave an intricate pattern of power so that they get to keep it.

And we know people like Shiphrah and Puah, who find ways to be bold and creative within the system they exist, to continue to uphold whatever justice they can—to do what they can do in times of trouble and oppression.

I’m not telling you to break the law. I do hope you will engage with UCC General Synod resolutions that specify ways to work for justice for those of us who are trans/nonbinary, those of us who seek reproductive justice, and those of us who know that comprehensive sexuality education is helpful, not harmful.

You may choose to ensure dignity and worth for those of us who are trans and nonbinary by working for medical care for trans youth– either by testifying in your legislature, writing a letter to the editor, or sending a note of support to a person who is personally affected.

You may choose to encourage support of reproductive choice and moral agency–by being a safe person in your faith community that anyone can talk to, volunteering at a clinic, or casting your vote.

You may choose to encourage local churches to be a voice for comprehensive and inclusive sexuality education—through offering an OWL ministry, supporting legislation or school board policies for comprehensive sex education in your community, or starting a library of informative and inclusive children’s books in your church.

There are many ways to work for justice and support others who are also doing the work. I hope you actively engage in finding creative ways to bring just a little bit more of God’s kin-dom to life right here and right now. By focusing on what we each can do, we increase our power to do justice in the world. In my sanctified imagination, when the powers of corruption and destruction come calling at God’s door, God looks them in the eye and points to all of us doing what we can to pull threads out of their intricate web of privilege and exclusion and reweaving them into justice for all of us. Then God shrugs, and says “Whaddayagonnado?”