At yesterday’s Festival of Homiletics, I heard Willie James Jennings speak at the workshop, “Speaking Words Against Whiteness: Remapping the Message of Reconciliation.”
In that workshop he spoke about “The Sovereign Couple” in Ananias and Saphira. As a Missioner and a wanderer in the West Don in 2009, I gathered a group of artists, poets, actors in what was then called the Old Town ARTbeat. In one of our gatherings, we put together an exhibit:
and the poet, Ann Elizabeth Carson, wrote the following poem:
Testing the Spirit
by Ann Elizabeth Carson
(In response to “Saphira”)
You were “privy to his plan”, agreed
a portion of the proceeds promised to God
Money for a poor crop, a rainy day? —
(I’ve done that, fudged the grocery money
a dollar here and there, every day, week by
for an emergency, a special dinner, new glasses,
a birthday gift for the one I love,
or to get ahead just enough to feel secure.)
Or was it that God’s law seemed unfair?
all the proceeds to the church, thinking,
“Who would miss so small a portion
who has so much compared to us?”
It is said that the heart and mind of the
beat as one.
Was yours a promise or an expectation?
Given freely? Or did women routinely
go along with their husbands, who voted as
representatives in the earthly family, assigning
how to manage their commitment to wives
and daughters? Your upraised arm
in fear of whose reprisal? His? Neighbours?
foreknowledge of the lies? Or did you see
– too late – that your lie alone would strike
a fatal blow