Posts Tagged ‘women’

Stop, Listen, Remember

I love the site Pray As You Go.  Off and on for ten years I’ve enjoyed their presentations of Scripture, reflection, and world music.

A recent episode asked listeners to meditate on Romans 4.3:
For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’  I thought about how simple that sounds.

After all, Abraham’s spiritual practice was pretty simple.  Most of his practice (described in the book of Genesis) consisted of two things:  listening to God, and building altars at places where he heard God’s voice.

Paul doesn’t mention it here, but Hagar also takes on a straightforward spiritual practice.  (She was a woman held in slavery in Abraham’s household.)  In her sadness and subjugation, God speaks to her.  In response, Hagar is the first person in Scripture to give God a name.  She calls God El-Roi (God who listened to me), and the place of the encounter is known thereafter as a place where God was present. (Genesis 16)

Neither Hagar, nor Abraham, nor anyone else in the household, worshiped in an organized or institutional fashion.  They had no temple with priests, choirs, and attendants.  They had no written set of instructions.  All they had were their direct, unmediated interactions with the God of the universe.

I am also amazed at Hagar’s and Abraham’s courage.  Who could listen directly to God and have the courage not only to stick around, but to speak?

I’m not sure about my level of courage right now, but I am learning from Hagar and Abraham.  Stop.  Listen.  Remember.  Repeat.  Amen.

Bench at Lake Susan

Lake Susan at Montreat: a place where many people stop to listen and pray.

egg money and leadership training

During my first call as a pastor, I found out about egg money.

One Monday evening, I was listening to the treasurer’s report at the Presbyterian Women meeting, and asked why the group was giving a donation to the general church budget.  Doesn’t everyone already give to the general offering, I asked?  Well, I was told, that’s the egg money.

And what is egg money, I asked?  I learned that it was money women in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries earned on their own, without their husband’s oversight, raising chickens and selling eggs.  The tradition had lasted long after women gained equal access to the family checkbook.

Sometimes the church gets criticized, and rightly so, for being a place where only the select few are allowed to belong or participate.

Yet, sometimes the church is the only place where people can find opportunities to use their gifts and express their thoughts.  Women, slaves, unemployed people … these were groups that were cut off from full participation in the rest of society, and often from full participation in church.  So they created their own space.  Women’s groups, religious meetings in the woods, and youth groups for the countless young adults out of work during the Depression are just a few examples of how people have taken the do-it-yourself route when the system failed them.

future community gardener, maybe?

And these spaces provided great opportunities to become leaders!  I’ve always been impressed with the resumes of women from my mother’s and grandmothers’ generations … but those resumes were not necessarily formed at work, because their opportunities were restricted.  Those resumes were formed at church.  We may come in to the church building with just our egg money, or just our clothes dirty from pounding the pavement looking for work, but if the church is doing things right we can be transformed into people who claim their place at the table.

The old days are gone, and perhaps the need for an “egg money” account is no longer, but we still have people who are denied a full place and full participation.  We still have people coming to our door who could be uplifted, educated, trained, and sent out … by the church.  Think of the folks who have been edged out of the workplace, because they are too old or too fresh-out-of-college.  Or think of the refugees resettling in your area (it’s amazing to me how many little corners of America are home to communities of refugees.)  Or the people who have always been underemployed, living on the margins.

Who in your community may have a little egg money and a lot of potential?