On Dangerous Women in Scripture: The Story of Sarah

Howdy folks!

This month, the SheLoves community is focusing on the idea of “Dangerous Women”. Something about that title of “Dangerous Woman” has resounded in my bones since the day I heard it. What a strange, lovely, valorous way to live! As I’ve been following along on this dangerous journey over at SheLoves, the lectionary has been carrying me through the story of Abraham and Sarah. And it’s occurred to me that Mamma Sarah (we have Father Abraham, I’d like to argue for a case of a song about Mother Sarah who was FREAKING AWESOME) herself was a very dangerous woman. She trusts that God has spoken to her husband (who is a bit of a sketchy character), and packs up her life and walks around the desert with Abraham. And then: my favorite story in all of Scripture, in which Sarah is given a covenant of her own-

They said to him, “Where is your wife Sarah?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” 10 Then one said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too wonderful for the Lord? At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. He said, “Oh yes, you did laugh.”

The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised. Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to his son whom Sarah bore him. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Now Sarah said, “God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Genesis 18: 9-15; 21:1-7 NRSV

As a woman who is equal parts laughter and fierceness, it resonates with me to find a kindred women in Scripture who has the audacity to laugh at God’s promises, then argue with Him that no, she never laughed (also: don’t you just love the wording of of God’s response in the NRSV here “Oh yes, you did laugh”). In the Christian community, where loud, silly women are often silenced into submission, it feels wonderfully subversive to have recorded in our Holy text a woman’s belly laugh at the tangible gifts of God. Idelette and Kelley from SheLoves recorded their thought process around this idea of Dangerous women (watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfD0YFoo8YM#t=167), and Idelette talks about how her living as a dangerous woman means coming out of silence. I think for Sarah, this was her Dangerous Woman moment- honest, audible emotion towards Yahweh. And all who hear laugh with her. Look at the healing that laughter brought her: after a lifetime of bareness, she has a son who brings her more joy than she could have ever imagined.Her laughter turns from cynical disbelief in Chapter 18, to outright joy in Chapter 21. Is anything too wonderful for God? Apparently not.

I’m going to be mulling over this idea of Dangerous Women for awhile, folks. There is something so incredibly revolutionary and liberating about it, and, like most good theology, it will be a slightly nagging presence in my mind for quite some time to come.

Later Days,

Jess

PS: You know I never leave you without a little something. Today, it’s Brandi Carlile’s NPR Tiny Desk concert. She released a new album yesterday and you all NEED it. Trust me. Let’s call it- “A Soundtrack to Living as a Dangerous Woman”

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