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Posts Tagged ‘Christian women’

On Easter morning, we need to consider this detail: women played a key role as messengers of truth. In fact, from the visits to Bethany through Jesus’s Paschal journey and on into the days and weeks after the resurrection, women were players: devoted, faithful and strong. They still are.

Romans 16:1-2, 6, 12-13, 15 and more
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church . . . Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus . . . Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. . . . Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. . . . Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman . . . Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.

At first blush, Romans 16 appears as boring as Matthew’s genealogy used to be for me. But a closer examination reveals the same mystery: the powerful women! There are lots and lots of women mentioned here and in most cases, they are clearly cherished by Paul.

The genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16 was such a sleeper for me until I experienced an epiphany and saw the reason behind mentioning the women in those verses (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary). They had a message for me: if God could use them, he could use me. And out of that revelation, I created a one-woman show that I toured for several years called Pente.

Now, in this chapter, I see another group of women with very little story to illuminate their place in the timeline, and yet, they are there: Phoebe, Priscilla, another Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus’s mother, and countless unnamed ones since households were listed by the head of house alone. But women were there, serving, loving, praying, and working in tandem with their families to illustrate the message of Jesus.

Scholars assume Phoebe actually carried the letter of Paul to the Romans. Was she allowed to read it? Did she travel from church to church (there were many house churches) in that great city? Did she carry additional personal messages from Paul? She was from a coastal city of Corinth, at least 600 miles from Rome. That was no gentle expedition. I’m not saying she was the Pony Express, but it’s amazing for that time period for a woman to travel with this type of a mission.

I know, there are other places where Paul seems to give women the back seat. I struggle with these sections too. But as I study those areas along my New Testament trek, I want to remember this Paul, who sent Phoebe with a critical letter to the gentile believers in Rome.

All of the women to whom Paul is sending greetings are commended for their “work.” I doubt he means “woman’s work” either. He is talking about the same work that all of us are called to do: being a witness in word and action: fulfilling the call of Christ in our lives, equally distributed by grace.

Oh yes, this is a day to remember and celebrate that Jesus’s work on the cross included a great emancipation for women of faith. Amen.

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Acts 17:4, 12
Some of the Jews were persuaded [in Thessalonica] and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women… Many of the Jews believed [in Berea], as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

I don’t really know much about ancient Greece except that men viewed women in much the same way as women were viewed in Israel and other ancient cultures. Generally, women were relegated to the home and were not encouraged to participate in politics or other “manly” pursuits. And yet, there seemed to be a group of women who broke this mold and managed to become “prominent” or influential all the same. I think most people assume these women were wealthy or connected to free-thinking fathers or husbands who encouraged their independence and abilities.

These were women of power.

And so, when Paul specifically notes that these “prominent women” became believers, this was important. Their faith and leadership would make a difference. Their stand for the Christ would bring others to the faith.

Women have changed the face of our world many times. In recent years, the women’s movement gave rise to prominent women in a variety of fields and interests. [See Women’s Hall of Fame for a short list of just American women who had made a mark.]

Who are the prominent women of faith today (in my own lifetime)? Who is really using her influence and placement to further the message of Christ? I’d really like to start building a list. Can you help? Do these qualify? What makes a woman influential? What makes a woman prominent?

Phyllis Tickle, Mother Teresa, Joyce Meyer, Pearl S. Buck, Joni Eareckson Tada, Beth Moore, Kay Arthur, Sandi Patty?

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