Christen and I very much appreciate the work of the annual conference, Nevertheless She Preached. When we began talking to them about being a vendor at their event for the first time last year, they suggested the creation of some stoles for women clergy. We had just designed our woman’s clergy robe, a stole seemed an excellent next step!
Even though I am ordained and have been in ministry for over 33 years, the reality is that I am late to the game in fully understanding how women have been left out in writing and sharing history and faith. While in seminary, I decided to study and write on the women who were instrumental during The Reformation. I began to grasp on some level just how much of history we have missed by not allowing the female voices of history to be heard. I feel the same way about scriptures. That is why we created our Women of the Bible Stole.
Ruth is represented by a stalk of wheat. I chose Ruth because of her steady resolve. No matter objections, no matter culture, no matter her marginalized place in society, she resolved to go with Naomi and make a life. And she did. I know countless women as I am sure you do who with a firm resolve move forward and move their families forward to build lives.
Lydia is represented by a swatch of purple cloth. Of course she had to be represented. As Christen and I began Threads by Nomad and then The Off Ramp, I continually asked myself if I was up for this challenge of entrepreneurship. I have surprised myself! Lydia was a successful seller of purple cloth. Her ability to operate in a man’s world equipped her with skills and relationships to be a leader in the early church as well.
Hagar is represented by an angel. Hagar to me represents the underdog. The one pressed into sexual exploitation. The one ridiculed. The one cast aside. The one not as good, as high, or as important. Yet God let her know that she was not alone, that she was valued, and that she would experience the promises of God.
Rahab is represented by a large basket. Rahab exhibits plain good sense. She recognized an inevitable outcome of a confrontation and chose to intervene. Her craftiness in hiding the spies in defiance of the king of Jericho represents intelligent women who get the job done. She helped the spies and protected her family while she was at it. Previously in the sex industry, she goes on to take her place in the genealogy of Jesus.
The woman at the well is represented by a jar. She is a bit of a mystery. There are all sorts of conjectures as to why she is at the well alone in the middle of the day. What we do know is that she was ready to engage in serious theological discussion with a strange man who culturally should not have been talking to her. She does not back away and she listens. She is willing to entertain the idea that maybe she doesn’t understand all she should. As a result, she meets the Messiah and introduces him to her village.
Esther is represented by a crown. She may have been a queen, but she was a victim before that. An orphan, she by all indications was leading a quiet, content life with her cousin before being uprooted. Esther was not given a choice about being paraded before the king so he could choose which virgin he wanted. Esther did not let circumstances of victimization hinder her from using the power and resources that God had granted. As a result she saved her people.
Priscilla is represented by a tent. I love that Priscilla is always coupled in work and ministry with her husband, Aquila. I know many couples who are partners in life and ministry. It is a balancing act to be sure, but so very worth it. She is also an openly accepted colleague of Paul in the ministry of the early church. Priscilla does not seem easily intimidated by a man’s world, but rather works and ministers alongside them equally.
Eve is represented by a tree. No, it is not the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It represents the Tree of Life. We often focus on the negative side of Eve’s story. The positive side is that she is Adam’s partner in working the garden and tending to living things. She is the mother of all living. Regardless of pain and loss, Eve continues to live and give life. Women are still working, tending, and nurturing. Women are still giving life regardless of pain and loss.
As I type this, I am thinking that maybe I should write a sermon series on powerhouse women of the bible! In the meantime, I look forward to spending a few days with powerhouse women of the church at Nevertheless She Preached 2019 in Austin next week. If you are in or near Austin, please come visit us; you do not have to attend the conference to visit the vendors and exhibits. But if you do decide to attend, you will likely leave feeling more inspired and attuned to your own power!
P.S. Just in case you are thinking that we have missed a couple of other powerhouse women, our advent stole is dedicated to Mary the Mother of Jesus and our Easter stole is dedicated to Mary Magdalene.