The theme for our Tuesday night and Wednesday morning Bible studies, these early months of 2018, is “Feminine Characters in Genesis and Exodus.” There are more than one would think. Scholar Rachael Gelfman Schultz writes, “Genesis contains the greatest concentration of female figures in the Bible (32 names and 46 unnamed women). The fact that Genesis consists of a series of family stories (including several genealogies) accounts for the remarkable concentration of female figures. These stories are generally understood by scholars as legends, but that does not sever their link with history.”
There are famous women like Eve. She is often spoken of, but to read her story is to realize that we know far less about her than we think we do and that the challenges she faced are some of the same challenges we face, although she did so without any tradition or wisdom of history to guide her.
There are unnamed, yet compelling, characters like the wife of Noah. Wouldn’t we like to know more about her? Wouldn’t we like to hear what she had to say to her husband or to God? Wouldn’t we like to hear her voice?
There are characters like Sarai/Sarah who speak, take action, make mistakes, find themselves in very vulnerable situations and, like their more famous husbands, venture forth in faith into the unknown, responding in their own way to God’s command to “Go.”
This is a fitting study for Women’s History Month and the months leading up to it. It is a fitting study for our period in history, a period where we coming to understand the difficult and often damaging legacy of patriarchy, both past and present.
Building on this study, I have invited three Lakeshore leaders, Pastor Tanner, LeAnn Flesher and Sandra Lee to preach on March 4, 11 and 18 and to build their sermons around three questions:
- What does it mean to you to be a woman?
- What does it mean to you to be a woman of faith?
- What does it mean to you to be a woman of faith called to ministry?
This series will be titled “My Story: The Faith and Wisdom of Three Women of Lakeshore.” I am confident that the Spirit will speak to us through each of these preachers even as the spirit finds a way to speak to us through the feminine characters of Genesis, Exodus and the other books of the Bible. Despite serious and systematic attempts to silence the voices of women, there is a power to them that will not be hushed.