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John 3:3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again… 7 You should not be surprised at my saying you must be born again.”

When a learned religious person came to talk about spirituality with him, Jesus did not fool around. He cut right to the heart of the matter. “You must be born again.” Nicodemus had no idea what he was talking about, so Jesus doubled down: “Don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again!”

Here’s the thing: this is—without question—a feminine metaphor.

Jesus invited the crusty old professor to be born of God. That is, to come to God as a nurturing mother—to be made new in the very womb of God.

Nor was this the only time Jesus used a feminine metaphor to to talk about the love of God. As his passion drew very near he broke down in tears of grief for Jerusalem as he said, “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.”

Jesus was not the first to see the feminine nature of God. For generations, the rabbis taught that Wisdom is the female side of God’s love. The book of Proverbs, especially chapters 1 and 31, are the scriptural home of Sophia, the Spirit of Wisdom.

God is not a man.

Male and female alike are equal parts of the nature of God. Even the book of Genesis bears witness to this: “When God created human beings, he made them in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them and blessed them.”

Male and female alike are reflections of the nature of God. Somewhere along the way American protestants seem to have forgotten that. This is sad, because when we exclude the feminine nature of God we throw out half of our Creator.

This has never been a point of confusion for Indian people. In most languages the One we call “Creator” is known as the Great Mystery, just as Yahweh was first revealed to the people of the Hebrew Bible.

The Creator creates. No great surprise there!

But the Great Mystery is not a cosmic clock maker who retreats into a neutral corner to watch destiny unfold. God desires relationship.

So Yahweh created Adam and Eve to be God’s partners in nurturing the garden. In Native American teachings we are also called to be partners with God. At creation God invested us with such spiritual power that not even God can save the world without us. God needs to be in relationship with us, and we need God in order to fully be ourselves.

If God cannot be complete without human partners, then how incomplete are we when we only affirm half of our human nature as sacred? Little wonder that the “Spiritual but not Religious” crowd turns to Gaia and Goddess myths. If Christians do not affirm women as divine, people will look for that side of God elsewhere.

I believe this is a gift that Native believers can offer back to the church. Our authentic spirituality honors women as equal reflections of the nature of God.

When we affirm that, I know Jesus smiles. “You’re finally getting it, Nicodemus. You are not far from the Kingdom of God. You just need to be born again.”

O Lord, we are worldly wise and spirit weary. We turn to you for nurture and healing. Make us new, inside and out.