Taylor Swift, Sandra Day O’Connor, and the quest for transforming hope

Taylor Swift, Sandra Day O’Connor, and the quest for transforming hope December 4, 2023

As the whole world knows, Taylor Swift is dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce. She has attended four of his games this year, each of which the Chiefs won. All of Green Bay was hoping she would come to last night’s contest against the Packers; the Green Bay Press Gazette reports that “small businesses, community organizations, restaurateurs, nightlife spots, and local Swifties” across the area sought to welcome her.

She did attend the game, but Kelce’s team lost.

This might serve as consolation: the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan recently wrote that Swift should be Time magazine’s Person of the Year. According to Noonan, Swift is “the best thing that has happened in America in all of 2023,” with a concert tour that broke attendance and income records across the country and transformed the economy of every city she visited.

From pop culture to historical precedence: Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court justice, died Friday at the age of ninety-three. The New York Times noted that “during a crucial period in American law . . . she was the most powerful woman in the country.” The Times added that she “inspired a generation of women” with her rise to such significance.

Former President Barack Obama wrote after justice O’Connor’s passing, “When a young Sandra Day graduated from Stanford Law School near the top of her class—in two years instead of the usual three—she was offered just one job in the private sector. Her prospective employer asked her how well she typed and told her there might be work for her as a legal secretary.

“Fortunately for us, she set her sights a little higher.”

“The only nation in the world based on an idea”

According to a recent study, nearly 2.4 billion women around the world do not have the same economic rights as men. In 178 countries, legal barriers prevent their full economic participation; globally, they have only three-quarters of the legal rights afforded to men. In addition, the United Nations reports that nearly one in three women worldwide has been a victim of violence.

Contrast the gender discrimination that persists in our fallen world with the example set by our Lord.

Jesus regularly engaged women in his ministry (cf. Luke 8:1–3), reaching out to women marginalized by their culture (cf. John 4), and including them in his most personal relationships (cf. Luke 10:38–41). The risen Christ could have appeared first to anyone, from his lead apostle Peter to his best friend John to his other apostles or brothers. Instead, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene and commissioned her as the first evangelist of Easter (John 20:11–18). Women were among the most significant leaders in apostolic Christianity (for more, see my website paper and podcast on this subject).

Paul sounded the death knell to gender discrimination when he announced, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). America’s founders built our nation on this biblical commitment to the sanctity and equality of all life (Genesis 1:27). As President Biden noted on Women’s Equality Day this year, “America is the only nation in the world based on an idea—the idea that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated equally throughout their lives.”

If they were invited, you are invited

But there’s even more to the story: our lives are sacred not just because we are each equally created by God but because we are each created for intimate, personal relationship with our Creator.

Jesus was the only baby to choose his attendants, and he chose field hands who could not keep the laws of Jewish society and thus were considered ritually unclean. Shepherds could not sacrifice at the temple or attend services at the synagogue, but they could worship the Christ of Christmas (Luke 2:8–16).

If they were invited, we are all invited.

Yesterday was the first Sunday of Advent, celebrated by churches across the Christian world as they lit the candle of hope. We’ll discover ways this week to light that “candle” in our souls by embracing the truth that “Christ in you” is our “hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Let’s begin today by deciding that we want to know Christ more intimately than we do now. The more fully we experience the risen Lord Jesus, the more fully we experience his transforming hope for today and for eternity.

We know someone best, not by reading books or listening to lectures about them, but by spending time with them. So it is with our Lord, which is why Jesus commended Mary when she “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (Luke 10:39).

When last did you follow her example?

“To God I would commit my cause”

Job testified: “As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number” (Job 5:8–9). When we do the same, we will say with the psalmist, “I love the Lᴏʀᴅ, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:1–2).

If you truly “love the Lᴏʀᴅ,” you will “call on him” all through this day and across this Advent season. He promises that “you will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Will you “find” your Lord today?

NOTE: With all that’s going on in our world, I believe a next great spiritual awakening could be on our horizon. In fact, that’s one reason why we work hard to follow God’s call on our ministry at Denison Forum. If you stand with our calling to “speak the truth in love” to our culture, please offer your year-end gift today. Your gift now will be DOUBLED by a generous matching grant of $150,000. So please prayerfully consider your gift now.

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