The gospel reading and sermon this morning awakened new movements within me. The focus of the teaching this morning was on Luke 15 with the parable of the lost sheep and the parable of the lost coin. It is the latter of these that I wish to focus on in particular. Luke 15: 8-10 goes as follows:
8 “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
There are a number of things that interest me about this passage. For instance, the priest pointed out the radical implication of this verse in the fact that Christ presents to us the divine in the form of a woman. That God is presented here as a woman contained radical implications for the patriarchal culture of 1st century Judea, and continues to present implications against patriarchal culture today. Examples of this today include the fact that many churches retain a male pronoun, He or Him, when referring to the divine. Furthermore, Christ’s maleness can be taken to be seen as a part of his perfection – many would gawk at the possibility of Christ being woman or non-binary. Yet, this passage undermines the notion that the divine is male. God is neither male nor female, but presents and is presented as both and neither in different parts of scripture.
While I find the radical implications surrounding the divine as female fascinating and invigorating it is not what gripped me this morning. What excited me was the final verse, Luke 15:10, where it states that “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” This is a reminder that the kingdom of God is one of celebration and joy. God’s kingdom is built upon the joy that comes through liberation. Where once we were oppressed, we are now liberated. Freedom – whether through the Death of God, through Christ’s atonement, or through some other means – is given to mean that the chains are broken, and one is set free.
Yet, we know that there is still oppression. There is still oppression against women, there is oppression against poor people, there is oppression against people of colour, there is oppression against queer people, there is oppression against disabled people, and there are any number of other oppressions. We continue to live in different states of intersectional oppression. Liberation is a constant ongoing struggle. For each form of oppression that torn down, a new one comes about. These oppressions often build off of the oppressions of the past, becoming more structural and less visible. There is a need in our world of structural oppression for constant revolution – constant liberation.
The need for constant liberation appears to be a difficult one. Christians often wonder why God doesn’t bring Her kingdom today. Living within a state of oppression, and constantly striving towards liberation through revolutionary acts is difficult. Yet, I think that the key to change – to liberation – is joy. Deleuze writes that revolution “belongs to humour and irony” (Difference and Repetition, p. 5). Revolution is tied to the affective role of joy. Joy awakens one to freedom. As the quote attributed to Emma Goldman states “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.” Dancing is an affective use of joy. It opens the body to new forms of joy. Joy is what allows revolution to occur, and it is joy which is drives the Kingdom of God. Just as there is joy in heaven for each who is set free, let there be joy on earth. Joy for liberation, and joy which leads to liberation.
Image from Wokemon.