Good morning! Hope you get to enjoy this Saturday!
I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well.
Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert in Asia for Christ. Greet Mary, who has worked very hard among you. Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives who were in prison with me; they are prominent among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our co-worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus.
Today I am moving away from lectionary a bit but for good reason. Today is International Women’s Day! To me this is important enough to devote ourselves to. The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “Inspiring Change.” With this in mind I started to go through the stories of great women in the Bible. There are so many (still not enough but many) to choose from and they all are highlighted for inspiring great change. There is a wonderful article about many different women in the bible by Rachel Held Evans if you want to go into great detail. Here is the link….http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mutuality-women-leaders
There are many leaders to look up to. This morning what struck me though were the women who stepped up to help support this new ministry happening. I highlighted the scripture specifically that highlights Phoebe. It is remarkable that Paul makes special mention in Romans for a couple of verses about Phoebe. What strikes me is that there couldn’t really have been a church without Phoebe. She houses the church, supports the church financially. Is a woman who is probably single or widowed and still puts it all out there for something she believes so deeply about. She is identified as a deacon in the church which gives her great authority (she is not identified as deaconess which means that she would have been teaching in the church). She just might have been the person to deliver the letters, lead her people and teach whenever possible. What an incredible woman! Phoebe definitely inspired change!
This is just one of the many biblical women who make it all possible. What about women in our lives that make it all possible? How can we shine a light on them today? Who are women in your life that make the world move? Who inspires change in the world and in you?
There are so many stories of wonderful women who are changing the world…who are changing us. I have the great fortune of singing in McMinnville Women’s Choir. When I moved to McMinnville, I was missing an experience of women’s community and singing. There was nothing like this here. So Betty (founder of Jubilate Women’s Choir of Corvallis) and I sat down and fleshed out an idea about how to bring women’s community to this place. We launched a choir and the first year ended with about 12 of us. The second year we ended the year with about 15 of us. This year, I checked out 48 packets of music to amazing women from all around. And this year, it is starting to feel like real community. We have a few growing pains…when you grow from 16 to 48 you will but the stories and the heart that I get to hear about each week make it a powerful experience. We inspire each other I think.
So I cheated…I talked about a whole group of women who inspire change and make the world keep moving and are the Phoebes around me. I think you get the picture. God continues to inspire great women to step forward and keep things moving in the world. Would you thank one of them today and let them know you are grateful for their ministry?