February 25, 2021

Walking and Working Together

28There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:28

Microaggressions – the subtle ways in which a person is disrespected. It does not have to be direct. In fact, in its definition are the words: indirect, subtle, or unintentional. After all these years I still wonder, “Did my Greek professor realize he never called on me in class after I answered his question correctly?” It was early in the second semester of my language class and I sat in the back of the class. He called on me out of the blue, put up a passage from the Greek New Testament and asked me to translate – not, a word or a sentence, but a passage. I was still getting settled in for class. But I looked at it and translated it correctly. It was the first and last time he called on me in class, and I was always prepared because I enjoyed the work. I received the grade I deserved, but I still sometimes wonder about that. There are so many other stories that come with being female in places that are usually inhabited by males; many of my experiences being in church settings.

Women’s history month gives us the opportunity to put to flight the lie that “women can’t be…;” fill in the blank. Sometimes women are left out of the story or not recognized. Chien Shiung Wu was a scientist whose work led to a Nobel Prize for her colleagues, but her contribution was not similarly recognized. The United Nations announced its theme for International Women’s Day, March 8 as, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.” The theme is quite specific because it celebrates the efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This encompasses scientists, health care workers, and anyone who has had a hand in bringing relief to the suffering and hope and healing to us all.

One of the places, the odd places, that equality for women has taken a good while to exist is in Christian ministry. Yes, things have changed some over the years, but there are still those who place more “weight” or status with male leadership. Whose opinion is considered “valid?” Who is the person who is really the one in charge? Even though the Bible is sometimes used to put women “in their place,” the sometimes subtle message of the scriptures tell a different story (Numbers 26, 27; Judges 4, 5; I Samuel 25; and of course the women involved in Jesus’ ministry and the women of the early church and co-workers with Paul). Rather than the self-imposed shackles of others, hear the words of Mary McLeod Bethune (1875 – 1955), “A woman is free if she lives by her own standards and creates her own destiny, if she prizes her individuality and puts no boundaries on her hopes for tomorrow.”