I've been thinking, recently, about the tenor in our voices: the wide eyed curiosity that comes in the voice of a child; the outrage in the voice of a teenager who is discovering injustice in the world; the passion and hope of a better tomorrow in the voice of a young woman; the fatigue and concerns that weary the young mum's voice; the sensibility and perspective that resonate in the middle-aged woman's voice; and all those different experiences and seasons meddled with hard won joy and wisdom in the voice of an elderly woman.
As I'm sure you're aware, the Women's Ministry Committee has been working with the PCNSW General Assembly to work out ways in which we can engage women's voices in decision making forums. And for me it has posed the important question: do I listen well to women's voices in the every day? Or do I dismiss them, as too immature' too old or too traditional...
In 1903 the NSW General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church resolved “to make investigation into the question of providing further facilities for women to engage in the work of the church, particularly in regard to the institution and training of deaconesses”.
In the years that followed, a spectacular ministry began. The Presbyterian Women’s Mission Association funded, trained and commissioned deaconesses, sending them out into the poorest Sydney communities, including Woollomoloo and Kings Cros . These weren’t easy times or quiet places. Much of this work began in the early years of WWI, and the deaconesses assisted families coping with their husbands/fathers away at war. It continued as the men returned from war, many of them with PTSD, their trauma impacting their families and communities. They served through the Spanish Flu and through the Great Depression, and continued their service – now multiplying in number – through the Second World War. Even through these difficult years, the ministry was supported – both financially and through prayer – by the newly formed Presbyterian Women’s Association (PWA)...
Her name isn’t even mentioned in the genealogy. Bathsheba is simply referred to as “the wife of Uriah.”
Perhaps because, as terrible as her story is, she’s not even the centre of her own story. Bathsheba’s experience exposes the wickedness of man and our need for a good king.
A Moabitess, in the genealogy of Jesus?
It should be unheard of.
The Moabites and Israelites were enemies - and distant cousins (tracing back to Abraham). The book of Numbers recounts their military and religious conflict (famously featuring a talking donkey), and the book of Judges recounts the cruel oppression the Israelites suffered under a Moabite king, who eventually came to a crude and comical demise...
We first meet Rahab in Joshua 2: Two spies enter Jericho in the cloak of darkness, but are soon found out. They come to the home of “a prostitute named Rahab”.
The king of Canaan sent word to Rahab, calling her to bring out the spies. She had to make a decision: would she hand them over? Or offer them protection?
He had just convinced his brothers to sell Joseph to Ishmaelite slave traders when Judah, son of Jacob, married a Canaanite woman.
Together, they had three songs. Their firstborn, Er, was married to a woman called Tamar. But Er died – the Bible tells us that he was “wicked in the sight of the Lord” – before he and Tamar could conceive a child. Without a child, Tamar would be destitute. She had left her own family to be married to Er, and had no means to provide for herself.
In order to continue the line of Er, and secure Tamar’s place in the family, Jacob’s second son, Onan, was instructed to act as a surrogate for his brother. But Onan was too selfish to provide an heir for his brother’s wife, and he was also put to death (by God) for his wickedness...