Word for the day by Christian Education Forum
Horeb MTC, Los Angeles, CA
2 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.
Have you been watching the news lately? What are the stories about women that are making headlines around the world? Did you hear about the 300 Nigerian girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram? Or the stories of the Indian girls and women who are brutalized regularly? Did the story of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese Christian woman who was sentenced to death due to apostasy, even register on your radar? These 3 stories highlight the very real and present danger that women face around the world. To be a female at this time and in this place is to live with uncertainty and fear.
It is in this context that this passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans takes on special significance. Paul uses the last portion of his letter to recommend some special people in his life and ministry. The first of his personal recommendations is for a woman by the name of Phoebe who he personally identifies as a sister, and more specifically as a deacon or minister of the church at Cenchreae and someone who has financially supported his ministry and the ministry of others. Paul is not just introducing her, he “commends” her. This is a strong endorsement of Phoebe as a person. He calls her his sister… not just someone he knows or has worked with but someone he has a personal familial relationship with. He asks the church in Rome to welcome her as one of their own and to assist her in whatever she needs.
Paul, in the course of these 2 sentences, gives us a glimpse of the potential for women in the ministry of the church. First, he makes it clear that Phoebe is not only a vital part of the ministry of the church but also a personal friend of his. This public proclamation of her professional and personal connection to him provides validation of her place in the ministry. This validation clears the way for her to deliver Paul’s letter to the church in Rome as well as gives her a seat at the table of church leaders. Second, he asks the church to welcome her and help her with whatever she needs. These requests offer a roadmap for the rest of the “saints” in how they should deal with her.
How do we as the Mar Thoma Church measure up to Paul’s roadmap? Does our church provide public validation for the women who partner along with the men in the ministry of the church? Do our leaders personally “commend” the women who support them? Are we “saints” welcoming of women in leadership positions and looking for ways in which to help them and support them with whatever they need? Can we take Paul’s guidance and apply it to how we treat the women in our lives and in our churches?
Prayer: Father, give us hearts to see the pain of your children around the world… especially our daughters, sisters, and mothers who suffer unmentionable atrocities. Help us find ways to intervene on their behalf. Additionally, give us mouths that are vocal in endorsing the work of the women in our churches and hands that are welcoming and useful to them. Amen.
Thought for the day: May our churches be havens of safety and encouragement for the upcoming generations of women.