This Sunday we are continuing our series on Anabaptist history.
I don’t want to spoil our story this Sunday, but this week’s story has me thinking about women using their gifts to serve the church. I must confess, I never understood the reluctance to embrace women using their gifts within the church.
Maybe it is because my mom never believed in gender stereotypes. Maybe it is because Marion Mennonite has been a place where I watched women model serving and ministering. I think about Mary Ann Nyce and Lorraine Eby who were very involved when I started attending Marion Mennonite. I watched that continue with those serving in various ministries at Marion over the years. RuthE, Glynnette, Rochelle, Lisa, Jenn, Jackie, Tina, Pastor Connie, and many others. I become excited to see this trend continue at Marion in the lives of Anita, Ashley, and Alyse and other female young adults and youth.
In the time of Jesus’s ministry, women were usually regarded as subordinate and inferior in virtually every area of life. They were to remain at home, to be good wives and mothers, and to take no part in public discourse or education.
Jesus, however, by his teaching and actions, affirmed the worth and value of women as persons to be included along with men within God’s love and service. Jesus challenged the attitude of inferiority of women.
I am sitting with these scriptures this week…
Luke 1:5-38 NRSV
5 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. His wife was descended from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both of them were righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord. 7 But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.
8 Once when he was serving as priest before God during his section’s turn of duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside. 11 Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified, and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” 18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I know that this will happen? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.” 19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 But now, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak, until the day these things occur.”
21 Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering at his delay in the sanctuary. 22 When he did come out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He kept motioning to them and remained unable to speak. 23 When his time of service was ended, he returned to his home.
24 After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion. She said, 25 “This is what the Lord has done for me in this time, when he looked favorably on me and took away the disgrace I have endured among my people.”
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at Jesus’s[l] feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her, then, to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things, 42 but few things are needed—indeed only one. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Why have some been slow to embrace women using their gifts within church?
Have you ever experienced the desire to use your gifts in a certain way but didn’t feel supported or encouraged to do it?
Who are the females in the Bible that you appreciate the way they lived for Jesus and served others?
Who are the females in your life that have modeled living for Jesus and loving and serving others.
Join us this Sunday and celebrate the women who have modeled Godly ways of love and service.