Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Everything I know about God, I learned from women

Everything I know about God, I learned from women

Does this sound heretical? I hope not. Was it not at our mother’s and grandmother’s knee we learned of unconditional love and yes, of discipline? From them we learned some of the bible stories we later heard in Sunday School from our teachers who were also women. Even the old hymns my Nanny (Grandma) sang in her soft, sweet voice. To this day, I cannot listen to the hymn In the Garden without thinking of her… ¯and He walks with me and He talks with me...and He tells me I am His own ¯.

More often than not, it is the older women, the widows who are the stalwarts. They work tirelessly to keep small, rural churches open and alive by their love and dedication. They ensure the church is clean. These women prepare the communion elements, often with grape juice from vines they tended. They have often baked the bread that was to be broken. They wash and press the linens that adorn the alter. They ensure the Sunday School programs are in order and that there will be a meaningful VBS program during the summer months. Then they teach those classes. It is also the women of the church who come together for bible studies, delicious pot lucks and make funeral food for grieving families.

These women have taught me much about giving, not from their abundance, but from their deep and abiding faith. These are the women who often leave a substantial gift to their church upon their death. When we attempted to become missionaries and made church presentations, it was more often than not, these little women who would take our informational brochures and send us monthly support. During the elementary, junior and senior high school years, most of my teachers were female. My Girl Scout leaders were always female as well as the 4-H leaders for the programs I was in. In our youth group, we had a husband and wife who co-facilitated. They were young marrieds, much younger than our anciently old parents and it was refreshing to see their tenderness and their love of the Lord.

Yes, it has been the women who have shown me the face of God and the deep, deep love of God’s heart. In my extended family I had aunts and non-relatives who were considered family that were teachers and mentors to me. That was during an era where it was not only acceptable to discipline a child other than your own, it was expected.

Most recently, actually, this past Saturday, I spent a substantial amount of time in an emergency room – nine hours to be exact. Husband posted that we were in the ER, where I was being admitted into the hospital due to having a kidney stone of enormous size (ok, ok… it was 6.5 mm) trying to makes its emergence into the word. It was an excruciating process! From FB, my dear friend and ordained pastor (a female) and a mutual friend (a deaconess) were in short proximity of the hospital and came to visit. I was anointed with oil and prayed over. This meant so much to me that they would take time from their busy schedules to come and minister to me during a difficult season and space.

I was admitted to the hospital that evening and scheduled for a surgical procedure on Monday. Again, the Deaconess arrived and prayed with Husband and I prior to my departure to the surgical theater. Bless her for that. Even though I felt secure about the process, having the prayer prayed over me meant so much and helped to calm an anxious spirit.

I’ve been having a crisis of faith, for lack of a better term. I’ve been seeking for the Mother Heart of God when most everything in church seems so patriarchal inclined. Then little by little, I’ve found references of the feminine in the names of God, most from the Hebrew texts.

The feminine names of God May 11, 2012

Do we undervalue Motherhood or the role of women in faith by Rabbi Micah Greenstein

In a world in which most religions begin with God the Father or some sort of male image of the divine, and are founded by male figures such as Moses, Buddha, Jesus and Muhammad, do we undervalue Motherhood or the role of women in faith? 
There are 70 different names for God in the Hebrew Bible and sacred Jewish texts. Many are feminine, including Shechinah, which refers to the Indwellling/Closeness of God, and El Maleh Rachamim, which means God Full of Compassion (literally “like a Mother’s Womb”)! Even the biblical word for faith (Emunah) comes from the root word for mother (Em). A mother, therefore, is the source of faith, trust, and hope. One of my favorite Jewish expressions is, “God could not be everywhere, so God created mothers!”.
I’ve been involved in a book study at church. It is A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans. Oh my goodness! It is humor filled if nothing less. She has a unique way of writing that catches me by surprise. She provides the biblical references to this work and then recounts her attempt to live it out. The author has had her share of detractors who have been less than flattering to her work.

I imagine that I too, will have those who will vehemently disagree with my seeking the Mother Heart of God. So be it. Ultimately I will answer to God, and to God alone.

In the meantime, I will read the chapters for this week’s study, take my medication like a good patient, heal and return to work next week.

Simply yours,

P.S. Ecclesiastes 11:5 (NIV)

As you do not know the path of the wind,
    or how the body is formed[a] in a mother’s womb,
so you cannot understand the work of God,
    the Maker of all things.

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