Scripture: Luke 8:1–15
Key verses: (1-3) Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.
Reflection: A college student called me a few weeks ago and asked if she could be a leader in the church or do leaders in the church have to be men. I asked her if she had forgotten who she had called or if she had been to worship online recently with her pastors: Millie, Deborah and now the Rev. Savannah Demuynck (ordained 9/27/20)? This student in 2020 was dealing with the same thing I faced my first month at college in 1986. I went to college with a strong faith, having served on the session of my church, run VBS, was on the building committee for a community life center and even helped on the annual stewardship campaign. I had a clear sense of call to ministry and yet classmates challenged it because of my gender. Our Student Christian Association had no women in leadership and I was about to stir up some trouble. Many on campus believed that only men could be spiritual leaders. I am grateful to First Presbyterian Church of Asheville who hired me for $5 a week to lead their Wednesday night program for both youth and adults. They validated my call to ministry and affirmed it week after week for four years. Thirty years ago I was shocked and didn’t understand this theology. I was not shocked this year because every year a college student, sometime young men and sometimes young women call with the exact same question. What is the role of women?
God calls us all to mission and ministry. Jesus went throughout the land proclaiming the good news with disciples and followers, women and men. Jesus respected and valued women. The gospel of Luke is the best place to find stories of the interactions and how Jesus treated the women who followed him. We see their deep mutual friendship and admiration of leadership. The women were the first to anoint Jesus as messiah and the first to share the good news of his resurrection. They were vital to the ministry of the early church.
In this particular passage, we see that women were not only followers but leaders traveling with Jesus. Luke names three women: Mary, Joanna and Susanna as women who provided for Jesus and the disciples out of their own resources. I wonder what three years of traveling cost? Imagine being on this journey and believing in it so much that you began to provide for the basic needs of the group. The depth of faith, the connection to the gospel message and desire for a new day had to be overwhelming for these women and men. I know the gospel message of love, hospitality, justice and new life continue to overwhelm me with grace and hope.
Prayer: You call us to join in sharing the good news. Men, women, young, old, Republican, Democrat, Independent, God, these are our labels and we know that you call us all regardless of how we identify. Empower us where we are and empower all that we are for your ministry of love and peace. In the name of the one who reached out beyond labels, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Author: Michelle Thomas-Bush
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].