A very warm welcome to Lindy Jacomb who is introducing us to her social media project to open our eyes to the many women in the Bible. Whether or not you’re a fan of the Bible, I think you’ll find this worth a read.
Our eyes slip past their names without registering the stories, the strength and the sass that is behind each one. For centuries, our eyes have tended to overlook them, these briefly-mentioned, often nameless women in Scripture who were holding up half the sky.
But they are there if you look, just as there are Huldahs and Salomes and Junias amongst us today too, in our churches and our homes and our communities; often unrecognised or with names not well-known. Strengthening and supporting, leading and guiding, teaching and preaching; holding up half the sky.
After marrying a builder and spending the last few years having him at my side commenting on the structural framework and details of most buildings we go into, now my eyes are trained to notice these things too – beams and trusses and load-bearing walls that I simply never noticed or valued before. In the same way, when you begin to intentionally look for the women mentioned in Scripture, you start seeing them everywhere; strong and integral and load-bearing, by the graces of God.
Have you noticed…
• Mary Magdalene, Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household, Susanna and ‘many others’ who ‘were ministering to (Jesus) out of their possessions,’ (Luke 8:1-3) travelling about with him – rather radical for their era, to be travelling with a Rabbi! The word translated here as ‘ministering’ is diakoneo, the same word that Jesus uses in Luke 22.27 to describe his own ministry.
• Or Junia, listed by Paul as one ‘outstanding among the apostles’, ‘in Christ’ before he was, and as having been in prison with him too for her faith. (Romans 16.7)
• Rahab, who was a prostitute who sheltered two men of God and thus played an integral part of Israel’s mission (Joshua 6.17-25). She is also listed in Jesus’ genealogy (Matthew 1.5) and is in the ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews of people remembered for their great faith and service to God (Hebrews 11.31).
• Or Tabitha, named as a disciple and commended for ‘always doing good and helping the poor’. (Acts 9.36)
Yet as integral as women like these are in the stories of Scripture, too often our eyes have glided over them, unseeing and unhearing, bent and busy with other things; just as I had walked into a thousand buildings without ever seeing the strength and structures that were holding up the walls around me and the roof over me.
It is a priceless gift to be shown new ways of seeing; and I have been thrilled to have people in my life pointing out the women in Scripture, training my eyes to notice and to appreciate them, and all the ways in which they were joining Jesus in the mission of God.
I wanted to share my newfound ability to see these women, both for my own joy and so that other men and women around me could also receive this gift of seeing new things in new ways. So I had a simple idea to help me to share this delight; I would share a snapshot every day for a week, a section in Scripture that mentions a woman who is doing her bit to hold up half of the sky.
One of the reasons that I enjoy photography is because it is such a delight to be able to capture something precious, something that tells a story, and to be able to share it with others so that they too can see new things – or old things in new ways.
A photograph is always partial, always perspectival, always only telling part of the story; its power is in what it proclaims, and also in what it withholds – it gives us the cover of a book and at the same time beckons us inside to know more. In the same way, I hoped that my snapshots of Scripture – cut out of their context, crudely framed in a Facebook status box, would both give others the ability to ‘see’ these women too, and incite their curiosity to know more.
Seven days, seven Scriptures, seven snapshots.
It is a simple thing to do, but it is a gentle and powerful way to put the spotlight briefly on some of the overlooked and beautifully faithful female followers of Jesus. If they are good enough for God’s Book, why not share them on our beloved Facebook?
If you want to join me, but don’t have the time to look up verses yourself, here are seven Scriptures to start with; or you are of course most welcome to choose your own from the wide variety of other women in Scripture.
Put them on your status each day with the brief explanation below, and tag some male and female friends who you think might be keen to join in sharing these snapshots. Let’s share the gift of truly seeing the women that have always been there, holding up half the sky.
“Women in the Bible? What women? – to raise awareness about some of the many women mentioned in the Bible positively for their faith in and work for God, for the next week I’m going to post a Scripture that mentions women every day. If you want to join me, do it too, and tag others who may be keen to join in as well!”
Head to Bible Gateway to look up these and any other texts.
Here is a comment posted after Day One, in case you need some more encouragement about why this is really important!
Lindy grew up in a community that did not allow women to speak in community gatherings, or to work after they had children, or to get further education past Sixth Form. After discovering that these (and many other aspects of Exclusive Brethren life) were man-made rules that were not endorsed by Jesus, she was excommunicated from that community.
Now she is now living life to the full, using her voice in all kinds of places, and is completing her Bachelor of Theology and Baptist Pastoral Leadership training at Carey Baptist College.
You can keep up with Sacraparental via Facebook for daily snippets, Twitter for general ranting and raving and Pinterest for all sorts, including a Gender Politics board.
You might also be interested in these posts on the contribution of women in the Christian tradition:
The Church’s Missing Workforce
Not only a Father: Talk of God as Mother
The Sacrament of Breastfeeding: Mary
Advent in Art with He Qi: Nativity
Advent in Art: Visitation (Mary and Elizabeth)
Maundy Thursday: Pontius Pilate’s Wife
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