“Nevertheless She Preached – Eliza and Jezebel” – by The Rev. Stephanie Kendell

August 2nd,2018 Categories: Stephanie Kendell Letters, Weekly Letter

Beloved Church,

I hope you got some rest this week because this weekend is going to be amazing! As most of you know we are a part of The Gospel According to Hamilton where pastors from all over the nation are picking a Hamilton song to use as sermon and scripture inspiration. This week I am preaching on Jezebel one of my favorite people in the Bible using the song “Burn.” Please take a moment to listen to the song this week. We also have a special guest soloist with us this week …Join us Sunday to see who it is!! We are also continuing our Nevertheless She Preached series, this week focusing on Jezebel in The Book of Revelation. Friends, this is going to be a worship you won’t want to miss.

Friends, this week my hope for you is simple. My hope is that you quiet yourself enough to listen to God in the unexpected. Our Bible’s stories are filled with God talking to people in all sorts of interesting ways and telling people to do all sorts of things. Some may be more traditional, like the still small voice inside of you telling you to trust in God and do something out of your comfort zone. Or it may be a not so subtle burning bush anointing you to lead your people out of exile.

Or maybe you are Jonah who hears God but tries to run away. Or maybe you are like Jezebel, called by God to preach the Gospel even when those in power try and keep you down or discredit your ministry. Let’s read a bit from the letter to Thyatira, written by a man who calls himself John (not John the Baptist), and hear what he has to say about our preacher Jezebel.

19 I know your works, your love and faith, your service and endurance, and that you’re still making progress.
20 Nevertheless, I have a complaint against you: you tolerate Jezebel, who claims to be a prophet, who leads my faithful astray so that they become promiscuous and eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent, but she refuses to give up her idolatry. 22 so I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will plunge those who join her into intense suffering, unless they repent of their ways. 23 I will kill her children with a plague. Then all the churches will realize that I search hearts and minds to give to each of you what your behavior deserves.

Friends, this text is one that is hard to read and engage with, but we must do so faithfully and responsibly. What this piece of scripture shows us is a man who is angry and violent towards a woman who is preaching in what he considers his space. And we learn that he keeps trying to get her to stop. But Nevertheless she continues to preach. Jezebel continues to do what God calls her to do, not what society expects her to do and definitely not what this abusive man wants her to do for his own ego.

Jezebel is a powerful preacher and we can learn a lot from her story. But I wonder, if you haven’t spent a lot of time in Revelation, is this the narrative you know of Jezebel? One of strong female preacher? My guess is that it probably isn’t. What are other narratives of women that we know, that may be wrong or misguided by ourselves or someone we know? Jezebel’s story was manipulated by John, and as you will hear in “Burn,” Eliza manipulates her own narrative. Pay attention to the line “I’m erasing myself from the narrative, let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted…”

Friends, what is the narrative you hope people know about you in the future? What are you doing to actively take part in how your story is written and understood? I hope it is listening to God, and following the special call that God is speaking to us, helping us shape the people we are called to be, and the stories in history we are called to leave on.

Shalom Y’all.
Rev. Stephanie