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Virgin hears crash.

Lightning flashes

She bolts up, jaw agape, 

 Book falling.

The winged envoy kneels


  “Hail, favored one!

   The Lord is with you!”

Favored, how? 

And why?

Only a teen

Eating bread and pigeons.

Living in hut—no Herodian palace.


The Almighty sees her.

Knows her.

Calls her


But this task!

She clenches fist.

He is with her.

Resolve rises.

Who is like the Lord?

Has anyone precedent for this?

Still, she determines to trust

  the impossible.

Because all His ways are just.

Because the spoken word comes with blaze

  And sound of waves.

She inhales scent of honeysuckle 

  and nods.

A child this winter.

“May this thing you have said

 Come true in me.”

She thinks

Not my will,

But God’s.

Ruach overshadows,

Hovering as when the spoken word brought matter. 

Someday she will know 

that the one bringing travail

himself birthed the universe.…

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Home Again

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I just spent three weeks teaching in Italy on a trip that had (despite some challenges) many glorious moments. One highlight was getting invited to the home—Villa Aurora—of Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. Her 16th-century estate, smack in the center of Rome, is loaded with masterpiece paintings from, I kid you not, Michelangelo, Caravaggio (his only ceiling painting ever), Picasso, Dali….

The 72-year-old blonde Texan told of how her late husband, the prince, descended from popes. Wait. I forgot to mention her first-century bust of Julius Caesar, on whose ancient gardens (which inspired those at Versailles) she said the villa is built.

Anyway, all this all came about because her sister in Fort Worth attends Bible study with one of my students, who posted about going on the trip as a photographer/artist thanks in part to the grant that’s allowing me to explore women in the visual record of the church. …

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Paul and His Subversive Passage on the Family

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In the first half of the Book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul lays out the Christian’s new identity in Christ. In the second half, he provides the “so what,” or the ramifications. As he outlines what Spirit-filled living looks like (Eph. 5:18ff), he envisions a community in which people show Christ’s love by serving one another. And one of the places where such service happens is in the household—where he, in his era, would have found spouses, kids, and slaves under one roof. 

People living in the first century under Roman rule would have been familiar with instructions for respectable families known as “household codes.” These codes outlined the ideal for life in the household, and such instructions were always addressed only to the husband. Consider this sample of household-code instruction from Aristotle (384–322 B.C.):

Of household management we have seen that there are three parts—one is the

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