It is a delight to be the spouse of a hard working, joy-filled, dedicated man.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Encouragement in Womanhood From Mary, the Mother of God

Advent rememberings.

Advent is a good time for rememberings, for remembering what God has done in our lives, to sit with your children by a cozy fire and tell them what God has done. Telling of the Egypt he has taken us out of, as a new nation of believers, aliens, countryless awaiting for our true homeland, and as individuals grateful for his saving hand.

This is a memory of a remembering twice over, it was a post of mine back in June (edited somewhat today to fluff it up and make it fresher), originally it was what I shared in a Saturday evening gathering two years ago, so pardon me dear reader the redundancy but it just seems to be the season of retellings.

It was Christmas time, a Saturday night a couple of years ago, the folks that gather on Saturday night had begun a study on Genesis Wednesday nights.

The study of Creation and Fall always seem to have a bizarre effect on people, silly jokes about women surface and then equally silly jokes about men surface in retaliation and then back again and so it goes. Oh, nothing too terrible is ever said, but unnecessary, a lot of polite defensiveness swarming around.

But this defensiveness and posturing has a tendency to get me down, it reminds me that there was a time in my life that I sorely wished I was not a girl. Then that passed into, if I had to be a girl, it was not going to impede me.

I met my husband and married him. Nothing changed really except my last name. That, and I saw that someone could love and not use me no matter what, even if I was a girl. And then slowly, imperceptibly, I began to understand more and more about the God I loved and how He loves.

Now, for a longer time than not, I am glad to be a woman in the world God created. I do not feel short changed or struggling against anything or anyone, including God, because of my womanhood. I read the words of God and I know he thinks highly of women not lowly. I do not feel that I need to take on anyone else's job to be fulfilled, my rightful place in God's creation is fulfillment enough.

I desire that other women, young and old, those beginning a life burdened with the desire to be what they are not and never can be and those older, living grudge filled lives, resigned to the fact that they are the less-than citizens of the Kingdom, be lifted up and out of the quagmire of self and culturally imposed lies. So at this particular Saturday night gathering I shared and here again I share.

Luke 1:46-55:

And Mary said:
"My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;

For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,

And holy is His name.
And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm;

He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,

And the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”

God is God. He could have brought his Son into the world for our salvation any way he wanted to, he did not need to use a woman. He chose to use a woman, yes, a particular woman but a woman none the less and he blessed her by the privilege he gave her.

He loved her. He loved her greatly. I have her as my example. He loves me greatly, not because I am a woman but not in spite of my womanhood either.

Matthew 1:

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

Abraham begot Isaac,
Isaac begot Jacob,
and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar,

Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram.
Ram begot Amminadab, Amminadab begot Nahshon,
and Nahshon begot Salmon.
Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab,

Boaz begot Obed by Ruth,

Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David the king.
David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

Solomon begot Rehoboam, Rehoboam begot Abijah,
and Abijah begot Asa.
Asa begot Jehoshaphat,
Jehoshaphat begot Joram, and Joram begot Uzziah.
Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz,
and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh,
Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah.
Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers
about the time they were carried away to Babylon.

And after they were brought to Babylon,
Jeconiah begot Shealtiel,
and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel.
Zerubbabel begot Abiud, Abiud begot Eliakim,
and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok,
Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud.
Eliud begot Eleazar, Eleazar begot Matthan,
and Matthan begot Jacob.

And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary,
of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations,
from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations,
and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations.

Is your head swimming dear reader from all the names? When I look at the genealogy of Jesus Christ some things strike me, there are women mentioned.

And not just any women.

Mind that once again I would like to mention that God is God. He did not need these particular women but he took them into Him and wrote them into our hearts for us to understand clearly how much He loves.

The first woman mentioned is Tamar. You must be kidding?! You do know her story right? And yet God chose her to be part of bring the Messiah into the world? You may want to read it again in Genesis 38, and Judah's admission. Please read Genesis 38 there are a lot of interesting things hidden in the words there. Not the least of which are the words that tell a story of a woman and the disgrace she suffered at the hands of the men in her life.

Yet God did not abandon Tamar to the disgrace the men in her life served up for her, and note in the words of Matthew's account of the Gospel that both her children are mentioned. God redeems what the locusts have eaten, even to women and their children.

The next two women to be mentioned in Jesus Christ's genealogy appear back to back. Foreign women.

One woman, not of good moral reputation, not once but twice blessed by God when he used her to be the part of the salvation of God's people. Those spies could have crawled in any window. God could have used only the very moral and strictly Jewish women to be Jesus' grandmothers.

But He redeems those who love Him and He loves to use them in His story whether the story is widely known or locally known.

Then He calls another woman, Ruth, out of her native land to not only be a continual blessing to her mother-in-law (that's a whole other topic) but to the world as well. He called her and she responded gracefully, unhesitatingly, against the norm even of that day. Her ability to respond was a gift from God well received. As ours should be.

All these women including Mary, were poor and what we now days would call disenfranchised, but God gave them a voice, a voice heard forever. God blessed them perhaps not in the manner most modern women look to be blessed or fulfilled in this day and age. Yet they knew that they were blessed by God's love. They had no idea perhaps that we would be reading their names, whole large crowds of us all across the globe, at least once a year, down through the ages to two-thousand plus years later. That fame did not matter. In their very lives they had a clear sense of God's love enveloping them.

These women, with Mary as their spokeswoman generations later, recognized their blessedness, they felt it deeply. The Word and living out the word in my husband's care has brought me to this wonderful place. I am glad to be a woman, I now no longer wish, as I did as a young girl, to be a boy.

Not that I feel greater or more blessed than a man, just that I am glad for what God has called me to be.

If there is a woman out there who feels like a second class citizen when she reads the Bible, perhaps it is how others have encouraged her to read it. I would ask her to read it again unburdened with the presuppositions of others.

Both man and woman were made in his image. God is all good, no part of him is not good, so no part of the image of God is less than the other, both parts experienced the fall and both parts are reconciled to Him through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

Wendell Berry writes about how you can not really love an individual if you do not love the general. You can not love a particular piece of apple pie if you dislike apple pie. I cannot love my husband, a man, if I do not love men in general. If I say I love him but disdain men, finding them to be smelly and dirty, or cheaters and connivers, or lazy and stupid then I really do not love my husband. It would really be a matter then of: 'I just don't want to be lonely and have people wonder why I'm not married.'

I don't need to eat every pie I can get my hands on to prove my love for pie. I just have to quit believing and saying that pie is gross. And if you are trying to love a piece of pie, all the while irritated most of the time by pie then you may need to see the beauty in all pie. Okay, I'm done with the pie analogy.

Hopefully you get the point. To love being a woman does not mean that you need to think men are ridiculous. Or to esteem men does not make it necessary to despise the womanhood you belong to. Men and women are often seen as opposites and perhaps they are, but they are not opposites like the two teams on a football field. They are more like the opposites of dirt and water. It takes both to make a garden flourish.

So now that the water (frost) that made the crust on my garden dirt this morning is melted, I am headed out to garden in the relative quiet and spend the day praying for the good men and women who are protecting us and humankind in lands far away from their home and hearth this Advent season. I pray that you, dear reader, are taking full advantage of this glorious season of waiting, actively waiting in patience and expectation.

1 comment:

KathyB. said...

Thank-you Lanny for this thought provoking piece, again ! Though I have never felt cheated or less than valuable as a woman, I have indeed been around some who would treat me as such , BECAUSE I am a woman. Fortunately those who matter in my life do not perceive me, or womanhood that way. So therein lies the key, The ONE who made us does not view us as less....a young woman was worthy of bearing His Son, and we are worthy of the death and resurrection of His Son that we might be with Him in eternity..and while here may call on Him to save and direct us...and comfort and chastise and love us. O.K., I'm not writing a book here! Thanks again !