An argument often used to restrict women from church leadership is that Jesus spent most of his time on earth investing in a group of 12 men.  But a close reading of the gospels shows that his band of followers also included women disciples. I’ll leave the reader to their own survey of the […]
“Do you care if Jesus is a righty or a lefty?” Jasmine Myers asks during a rehearsal for Godspell. She’s just finished showing me the sign language translation she’s created for the chorus of the song “Beautiful City.” “You’re a lefty,” I respond, “Do whichever’s more comfortable for you.” In Still Small Theatre’s upcoming […]
In a recent Christians for Biblical Equality blog post, Kevin Giles showed how people used the Bible to justify slavery in a way that is similar to the justification of gender-based hierarchy. In the 19th century United States, pro-slavery theologians made a comprehensive biblical case for the rightness of slavery. Based on a flat reading of […]
Recently, I heard a sermon preached almost entirely on Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew. I was visiting a church I attended in my youth, a place where I learned a lot of what I’ve needed to unlearn about theology of women. I was delighted to see that the pastor immediately picked out the women in the narrative, a little disappointed to realize that he did so only to point out that they were all foreigners, with the exception of Mary. But this got me thinking in another direction, as sermons so often do. I began to think through these five women, to question what else they might have in common.
My family doesn’t look like a family in a lot of ways. Meaning, we don’t look like one another. At all. We are a mix of races, disabilities, eye colors, athletic abilities (or in my case; lack thereof) , heights, etc. We were brought together through adoption. Nobody thinks we look alike. That doesn’t stop […]
This moment would become the very cornerstone of our faith.
Preached in millions of sermons, proclaimed in every nation and tongue, written about by every theologian and Christian thinker.
But before all that, it was just a woman and the Teacher, the Rabbi, the Son of God she worshiped and followed and knew like a brother.
Deeply grieving, Mary Magdalene wept at his empty tomb, thinking that she’d been robbed of her last opportunity to look upon him, and anoint him. There was a man; she thought, maybe, the gardener. Weeping and distraught, she asked him where the body was.
This week we are pleased to bring you three Easter reflections on women disciples who were an integral part of Jesus’ live and ministry. Like them, may we follow close despite the cost.
The symbolism of his anointing by Mary of Bethany just days before his death was not lost on Jesus. He understood and said her act “will be told in memory of her.” She poured the oil to memorialize him, but he says to remember her. It is significant that a woman serves as the anointing agent. In this moving account of the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany we have the chance to reflect in new ways on this prophetic act.
There is no evidence in the bible or church history to suggest that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute or the wife of Jesus.  The Catholic Church formally rejected this characterization of Mary in 1969, yet this tarnished picture continues to be perpetuated through books and films like Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Passion of the Christ (2004), The Da Vinci Code (2006) and most recently, Risen (2016), a new Columbia Pictures film starring Joseph Fiennes.  Since Mary is not around to defend herself, I’d like to set the record straight.
I can’t imagine a world in which it would be culturally acceptable for a hostess to walk up to her guest of honor and ask him to have a word with her sister, who was not anticipating the needs of her guests with the same alacrity as the hostess (especially loudly enough for at least one eyewitness to hear and write about it). That is not the world that I live in, and it was certainly not the world that Martha of Bethany inhabited.
I’ve heard quite a number of sermons about “Mary and Martha” over the years, and they have all had the same tenor: Strive to be more like Mary and less like Martha. Martha has come to represent the influence of the world (with her distraction and busyness) and Mary seems to represent the ideal Christian woman, sitting at Jesus’ feet, at least, in the eyes of many Christians I’ve heard speak.
Just over a year ago, I was captured by the story of Martha. It was a season of recovery for me. I was having trouble finding the strength to “do” my faith the way I’d been taught through my formative years. Have you ever had a Biblical person reach out and grab you, asking to be noticed? That is what happened with Martha. I haven’t been able to stop reading her story since, over and over.
… no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.” Jesus in Luke 5:39 NLT
I’m not much of a wine drinker, and will admit to being a lousy judge of quality. But I do know that you drink what the host is pouring. To politely refuse what is provided is reasonably understandable. But to insist on being served a different blend – one that you prefer, and definitely aged longer – would be incredibly rude.
I read Matthew 27:55-56 recently and saw something I had not noticed before. There were many female followers at Jesus’ crucifixion – many. I had previously imagined that only a few women had accompanied Jesus and made the trip all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem – usually a journey of several days.
These women had travelled to be with Jesus and to minister to him by taking care of his needs. From this group of many, Matthew identified just three of the women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the unnamed mother of the sons of Zebedee. Mark, in his parallel account, also lists just three women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and Salome, but he adds that many other women from Galilee were near the cross with them (Mark 15:40-41 cf Mark 16:1).
When I read the Gospels I can’t help but notice a significant disconnect between the life of Jesus and widespread Church practice. Jesus told a woman to spread the Good News of His resurrection, but we won’t let a woman preach it from the pulpit.