To my fellow pilgrims on the path of resurrection life
This week sees a wonderful celebration of women with:
~ the story of Dorcas, the dressmaker, as one of our lectionary readings in this time of Eastertide,
~ the induction of Reverend Janice McWhinney at Wesley on Saturday morning,
~ and, of course, affirming and praying for the treasures that we name “Mother” in our family and community.
These moments are of special significance to me as a mother, daughter, sister, sister-in-law, and woman in ministry for – despite gradual and intentional changes – the language and power hierarchies within human relationships are still very much masculine.
Imagine what it must have been like to be a woman in Dorcas’s time!
Yet, in a patriarchal world and an emerging church led exclusively by a cadre of male disciples, Dorcas sews together far more than pretty garments:
- Within her home, she drew together members of both the Jewish and Greek communities – note her two names – in a radical act of inclusion.
- Through her charitable acts, she helped those who had a little to offer to recognise their ties to the most vulnerable and poor within the city of Joppa – not by putting money in a plate but by making by hand something that would provide warmth and care for those in need.
- In the public square she wove into the understanding of Christian discipleship the colours of gentleness, compassion, and the desire to repair the world.
William Willimon notes:
“When the story of the rising of Dorcas is told by the church, the social system of paralysis and death is rendered null and void. The church comes out and speaks the evangelical and prophetic ‘Rise!’ and nothing is ever quite the same.”
As we tell the story this week of a woman who brought the rising of hope to the vulnerable, alienated, oppressed cast-offs of her community; a new minister who will share in the work of repairing the world in this place; and the women who have carried us in their wombs – and their hearts, may we hear again the invitation to “Come to life!” and rise in the name of
~ our Labouring God who held us in the hidden depths of God’s own heart before bringing us into being,
~ our Accompanying God who draws near day after day with outstretched hand to walk and talk and work with us,
~ and our Affirming God who declares the goodness of each Word-birthed, Spirit-breathed man and woman.
And may God bless in this time of remembrance and celebration every woman who is and was and will be a living expression of God’s labouring, affirming, accompanying nature.
Infuse them with Your wisdom,
encircle them with Your love,
empower them with Your presence,
that they may know in the very depths of their being,
their beauty and belovedness.
Yours in Christ