That Time When The Men in Our Church Praised the Valor of the Women. And Heaven Rejoiced.
Last Sunday was Mother's Day.
A day that means different things to different people, and brings up different emotional responses for everyone. In the church world, it isn't uncommon to do some sort of reflection on Proverbs 31 for Mother's Day.
Maybe you've heard it before, but often that particular proverb is used to create some sort of ideal version or archetype for what a "Biblical Woman" ought be. But, as Rachel Held Evans masterfully points out here, Proverbs 31 was a poem written so that the men in the community can praise, honor, and celebrate the "women of valor" in their life. It begins by asking, "a woman of virtue, who can find?" (Or, a woman of "valor," who can find?)
The Hebrew for "woman of valor" is eshet chayil.
This past Sunday, Pastor Kate continued our series "Liberate: What Makes the Good News Good?" by sharing how the women's movement and feminism has restored much needed goodness to the Good News.
It was masterful. If you listen to any podcast this week, make it that one!
Toward the end of her sermon she did this brilliant interactive element where she invited the women in our church to shout out who they were or what they do, and then one of our worship leaders, Matthew, led all the MEN (only) in chanting together, "Eshet Chayil, woman of valor!"
It is goose-bumping, spine-tingling, tear-producing goodness I tell ya.
To hear women proudly declare,
"I am strong" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I think" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I am faithful" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I give good advice" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I can be feminine, and powerful, in a man's world" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I feel deeply" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I take risks" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
"I ride a motorcycle" Eshet Chayil, Woman of Valor
Thank you Kate, for leading us in this ritual. Thank you women, for sharing yourselves with us. Thank you men, for seeing and honoring the women among us.
(Here's the link again. To hear this part, skip to the 34:50 mark... but then go back and listen to the whole thing!)