Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
ROLE OF WOMEN IN FAITH SUCCESSION
“I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you… help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel… whose names are in the book of life.”(Verses 2-3)“What is that girl doing by the altar? She has no purpose there!”There has been a gradual movement in recent years for the Mar Thoma church to allow females to play a role in the worship of God on the altar.
This movement has been downplayed and cast aside as an ideology that is not in concurrence with the Bible or with Malayalee tradition. But if we look into Paul’s letter to Philipi, we can see that the Bible highlights and exemplifies women who took a spiritual leadership role in the church, and encourages them (and all leaders) to seek God’s will in their decisions.
Lesser known women, but not lesser disciples: Euodia and Syntyche were two women who were leaders in the church. Paul personally named these two women in his letter, and in doing so gives us a glimpse into the value and significance of their ministries. In verses 2 and 3, Paul writes that Euodia and Syntyche had contended together with him “in the Gospel”. Earlier in the same letter, Paul had also described Timothy as someone who had served with him “in the Gospel” (Philippians 2:22). Paul continues on by referring to Euodia and Syntyche as his “co-workers”, which is terminology that Paul used earlier to refer to Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25). Therefore, according to Paul, the ministries of these women were comparable to the ministries of their more famous male counterparts, Timothy and Epaphroditus.
Do not be anxious about anything! : Paul addresses the argument between the female leaders by urging them to seek reconciliation in the name of the Lord. We also see arguments in our modern day parishes, especially during our General Body meetings. Paul offers a way to overcome interpersonal friction in verse 7: he asks the readers (both male and female) to let go of their anxiety, and in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present their requests to God. This advice effectively removes the “me” in argument, and instead places God’s will in the center of every decision made.
Today, let us remember to always present our requests to God via prayer and petition, whether we are working our way through a personal transition in life, like school, marriage, work, or a larger movement, like making our church’s stance on women leaders more biblically accurate. Remember that Jesus told us not to worry about tomorrow, (Matt 6:34) but to put all trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5), and to be willing to go wherever God guides us.
Prayer: Father God, teach us to praise You as is truly appropriate for Your greatness, with thanksgiving and with respect for the choices and decisions You place before us. Allow us to continue to nurture Your church, and to step forward as spiritual leaders to bring others to Christ. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.
Annissa Kurien, St. Thomas MTC, New York