Joanne and the Virgin Mary


As we launch into Advent, I thought I’d share a note that I wrote on facebook a few years ago (back when people wrote notes!)

Here are my thoughts from November 22, 2012:

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been reflecting on my friendship with Joanne, a tall, beautiful, trans-gendered, aboriginal woman who very recently took her own life. Joanne had a pretty wild sense of humour, and we shared many laughs over the year and a half that I knew her. As I have been thinking about her death, I’ve also been thinking about her life, and the moments that we shared. Like the first time we met, and realized that we were exactly the same height, and had very similar names. From then on we were pals. And another time, when she showed up at Sanctuary and announced that she thought she was pregnant… followed, after a pause, by “It must be the Lord’s!” I had to agree that if she, a trans woman was pregnant, it must indeed be the Lord’s! We shared a good chuckle, and carried on.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve also been re-reading a book called “The Jesus I Never Knew” by Philip Yancey. Today I read about the conditions of Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’ birth, and how it seems that “God arranged the most humiliating circumstances possible for his entrance” (Yancey, pg 32). God chose for his Son to be born to a poor young virgin, in a time when the typical consequence of becoming pregnant out of wedlock was to be stoned to death (Yancey, pg 31). Jesus was born in a barn, became a refugee, and grew up in a small town where children of “questionable paternity” were not treated kindly.

This got me thinking… If Jesus had been born today, to whom would he have been born? The circumstances of Jesus’ birth were surrounded (and still are) with incredulity and scandal. Really, a virgin birth? Really, a poor, marginalized subject of an oppressive empire, carrying the Son of God? Suddenly, my memory of Joanne’s joking claim to be pregnant with the Lord’s child took on a new significance. No one would have believed that she was pregnant, much less that she was carrying the Saviour of the world.

From the circumstances of his conception, birth and upbringing, to his inaugural speech in Luke 4, to the Sermon on the Mount, to his chosen friendships, to the many parables about the Kingdom, Jesus made it abundantly clear that the Kingdom belongs to people who are poor, marginalized, mourning, oppressed, stereotyped and shunned. Joanne was all of these things, along with beautiful, hilarious, vivacious and caring. I know that I may be getting myself onto thin theological ice with some, but that’s just too bad… It seems to me that if Jesus had been born today, he would certainly have been born to someone much like Joanne.

So those were my thoughts today.

Me and Joanne


2 responses »

  1. Thinking of you and giving gratitude for the wonder of you.

    This is a beautiful reflection.

    Sending love and prayers for you and all those to whom you minister. Elaine

    “If everyone who wants to see an end to poverty, hunger and suffering speaks out, then the noise will be deafening. Politicians will have to listen.” Rev Desmond Tutu


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