She Is Strong
The Rev. Dcn. Laurel Hart
There is a cartoon which has been floating around the internet—possibly you’ve seen it or maybe not. It’s a photograph of a meeting room with a group of attendees sitting around the oval conference table. Typical stuff on the table top you’d see at a meeting; notepads and pens, coffee cups, looks like there might even be some treats on the table. The attendees, 15 of them, are looking at the photographer with full attention. Most look very serious, a few have tongues hanging out. They appear to be of various ages, some are blond, some have brown hair, some appear to be of mixed coloring, and one even has a black head and a white body. Oh, did I forget to mention that this is a meeting of the canine variety? That’s correct this is a meeting of dogs – seems it’s a very important policy meeting according to the caption. And the caption? Well, the caption is “today’s meeting on feline healthcare.” That right it’s a meeting of dogs who are deciding policies on cat healthcare. Kind of reminds me of a law recently passed in Texas which deals with the topic of abortion.
The lesson we heard from Proverbs today is a challenging passage to hear—we might even get a stomach cramp thinking of how women have had to fight for hundreds of centuries for equal rights and a measure of self-worth that's not connected to their role as a wife and mother. These assumptions would have been expected and accepted when the Book of Proverbs was written. We know that passages like these continue to be used to relegate women around the world to second class status. I've never forgotten a time when being introduced by one person to a new acquaintance the presenter announced me as the mother of Kurt and the wife of Chuck (who was my husband at the time), and she never once said my name to the other person. I was stunned and angry because I thought of myself as my own person before those other roles. As a woman, I knew I had more gifts than the assumed roles assigned to me. When we look further and read deeper in this passage we see written in these verses much about a woman’s independence, her strength, her skills, and her ability to execute life giving choices for herself, for her family and the poor and needy. This is not speaking of women as weak or helpless this is speaking of a woman who is clothed in strength and dignity, recognized for speaking with wisdom and kindness. She is letting God know that she is making the best use of the gifts given her while holding society's assumptions and expectations lightly, as she “laughs at the time to come” when God's vision will be the reality for all.
So back to abortion: this topic is complex, and each person must look into their hearts, review their values, and their conscience and experiences to make their own decision about the subject. I can only speak for myself and say my personal truth is—it is a decision which is extremely personal and should only be made by the woman involved with the advice of experienced medical people. Laws shouldn’t work against personal choice in health care decisions.
But most of all what is troubling to me with the new law in Texas is that it is written as what I would characterize as a “vigilante law” with persons looking for offenders, maybe spying on other peoples perceived actions and filing suit against individuals when they think another person has transgressed the time frame written into this law. Don’t we have enough dissension going on in our country right now without this attitude and this type of action? Aren’t we dealing with enough due to the pandemic which is still rampant with millions of people suffering greatly from many real hardships including economic adversities such as the losses of their homes and security?
Jesus is talking about vulnerability in today’s gospel. He's talking about his willingness to suffer, his willingness to be vulnerable to the pure love of God and to the full experience of God's grace and mercy. We are as confused sometimes as the disciples were. We want to be recognized as great in human terms when the real gift is to be recognized as one of God's own on God’s terms. Jesus is telling the disciples and us that God sees us fully in our own vulnerability when we acknowledge that about ourselves and each other. With that vision in squarely in our hearts we can experience God's presence more deeply in our lives and share that love, faith, and hope with each other. God, please, please have mercy on us all today and always. Amen.