Women’s Day Worship Guidelines 9 August 2020

Gender Justice Task Team

Women’s Day Worship Guidelines

9 August 2020

_  Die Afrikaanse weergawe kan hier  gekry word  ________________________________________________________

 

Greeting

Read Psalm 8 from the translation of your choice.

Then repeat v 4-7 as paraphrased below:

. . .

“Lord, our Lord . . .

When I behold Your heaven,

The work of Your fingers,

The moon and stars – to which You gave a place,

What is a human being that You think of her,                                          

The earthly child that You tend to her?

You created her only slightly less than a heavenly being

And crowned her with glory and honour,

You let her rule over the works of Your hands,

You subjected everything to her . . .”

 

Dear Sisters, Brothers and Children

 

Today is Women’s Day. No, no, not Mother’s Day. Today is Women’s Day. On Mother’s Day we make an effort to show our appreciation for all that the Mothers and Women in our lives do for us and mean to us. Women’s Day has a different focus. On this day we look our women directly in the eye and we confirm - you, as a woman, are a whole human being. Through your humanity you represent God, in whose image you too were created.

 

This is also the day and month when we want to look our men and children directly in the eye and remind them:

Women, adolescent girls and little girls are also the labour of God’s fingers.

Women, adolescent girls and little girls’ names are also engraved on the palm of God’s hand

And are crowned with glory and honour.

Women, adolescent girls and little girls also ought to be treated with respect and dignity.

 

And dear Congregation

 

Now, more than ever, it is also necessary to pay attention to the emergency call rising from the murdered and broken bodies of our women and children. Women that remind us that not everyone looks at them with God’s eyes. These voices have been echoing since the Old Testament:

Voices of 2 or 3 women representing the various Biblical characters[1]:

(This text could be converted into Powerpoint for an online service)

 

Woman 1:       I am Eve, the woman created from you.

Woman 2:       I am Hagar - your slave, your kept woman that you sent into the desert.

Woman 3:       I am Lea, the woman you had to marry against your own wishes.

Woman 1:       I am Dinah, your only daughter raped by Shechem.

Woman 2:       I am Tamar, your desperate widow that had to make ends meet by prostituting myself.

Woman 3:       I don’t have a name; I am Jephthah’s daughter. And I pay the price for his vow to God.

Woman 1:       I am the other Tamar, your daughter raped by your own son.

 

Women together:      We are the broken women of the Hebrew Bible.

                                    We are broken women in a broken world.

                                    We are women in search of healing, respect and justice.

 

 

Woman 1:                   I am Maria, the pregnant woman without a home.

Woman 2:                   I am the Samaritan woman with 5 husbands, of which not one is actually mine.

Woman 3:                   I am the impure woman on her knees trying to touch your robe.

Woman 1:                   I am Anna, the widow praying for the church’s liberation.

Woman 2:                   I am the Canaanite woman begging for crumbs from you table.

Woman 3:                   I am the widow who brings two small copper coins to the temple treasury.

Woman 1:                   I am the determined widow who keeps on calling for justice in the court.

Woman 2:                   I am the woman caught committing adultery.

 

Women together:      We are the broken women of the New Testament.

We are broken women in a broken world.

                                    We are women in search of healing, respect and justice.

 

And how would these voices sound today?

 

In a time that we all bear the brunt of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst more than 7.8 million people are already also living with HIV. We know that women are even more vulnerable during lockdown and are more exposed to abuse and mistreatment by men. Newspapers and social media often remind us of this sad and distressing reality.

 

Dear Sisters, Brothers and Children

 

How does our church react to this? What role should we as the church play in confirming and protecting the dignity of women? Firstly, it asks that we seriously, honestly and courageously reflect on what it means to be a woman in our South African context . . .

 

Scripture: 2 Cor 4:13-16

It is written: “I believed; therefore, I have spoken.”

This scripture passage focusses on faith and hope, but also the fact that faith and hope translate into action. Therefore, Paul writes that his faith convinced him to talk.

 

As Christians we embrace the living hope and we know that the Holy Spirit within us, ensures that we survive, but that we also live in the face of challenging circumstances. But this hope in Christ is not passive. This doesn’t mean that we briefly hold our breath when we read the newspapers, only to continue with our comfortable lives shortly after. No, hope is active. If we truly believe in something, we should also be willing to talk, to roll up our sleeves and to strive for what we believe in. The Thursdays in Black campaign that strives for a world without violence and rape, proclaims amongst other things – we stand in the hope that a different reality is possible.[2]

 

And specifically, for us as Christians, this hope demands that we stand up for a different reality and to voice the injustices in our world. And yes, sisters and brothers, there is so much injustice that surround us. So many things are stressful and regulations during this time don’t always make sense. But on this Sunday and for this month, let us specifically focus our attention on the position of women in our society. And not only on the women in our own homes, neighbourhoods and congregations, but on all women, adolescent girls and little girls in our country. Each and every one preciously created in God’s own image.

 

Denise M. Ackerman reflects on hope in her book, Surprised by the Man on the Borrowed Donkey[3]:

“To have faith is to have hope. Yet this statement is often taken to mean hoping for the end times when all will be made new. Hope, however, is a lived reality in the life of faith, here and now.”

“I learnt that to hope is never to surrender our power to imagine a better world, that present unjust arrangements are provisional and precarious and do not require our acceptance.”

Ackerman reminds us that hope must be lived: “The way I hope should be the way I live. To live out my hope is to try to make that which I hope for come about – sooner rather than later.”

 

There is also the risk that when we hope, our vision is always focussed on the future, but we must realise that that which we hope for in the future, is also relevant and important in the present. And it should influence how we live right now. What we hope for the future, should also be what we focus our thoughts, prayers, energy and actions on in the here and now of our lives. Then our hope becomes “active” hope.

“To inhabit hope despite woeful circumstances is to offer a counter-story that dares us to become involved in making that which we hope for come about.”

“So, we are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.” (2 Cor 4:16 The Message).

The Holy Spirit helps us to look at the world with new eyes, but also challenges us to already inhabit this future today.

Therefore, the invitation is that we use our voices, bodies and influence to strive towards a present time where women will feel safe, where women will be respected, where the image of God will be recognised in every woman and man and child.

On this day we look women directly in the eye and confirm – you, as a woman, are a whole human being. Your humanity represents God, in whose image you were created.

 

Greeting from Ephesians 1:18-19

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

_________________________________________________________________________

For Thursday in Black pins and bookmarks, contact admin@cabsa.org.za

For relevant pamphlets, order from CLF at https://clf.co.za/

Compiled by Aneleh Fourie Le Roux on behalf of the Gender Justice Task Team

www.cabsa.org.za or management@cabsa.org.za

 

 

 

[1] Revised from Churches, Channels of Hope Gender Devotion by Frank Molteno.

[2] For more information, visit www.thursdaysinblack.co.za or contact CABSA at management@cabsa.org.za

[3] Available from Bible Media

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