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Lenten Devotions - day 13

It is International Women’s Day as I write this letter to you. I am writing you to talk about Lent, and I suppose International Women’s Day is the Divine’s gentle invitation to consider what a Lenten journey may tell us about women.

As Lent is a journey to the cross, sometimes I find myself trying to imagine the scene. I don’t imagine the violence of that moment. I imagine more the emotions. The rage of some in the crowd. The delight of those in power. The fear in so many forms of his disciples who couldn’t bring themselves to be there… but that isn’t quite true is it?

The women were there. It was the men who were afraid, but the women weren’t. They were courageous. When I think of women who aren’t afraid, I think of my mother. I think of how I am still gently frightened by her myself. She loves so fiercely.

Did I ever tell you that I have asked my mother to call businesses not treating me well even as an adult? Now not since my 20s granted, but I have always known my mother to fight for me. You don’t have your mother here anymore. I don’t want to know that feeling. I hope one day I do, because I certainly don’t want her to know the feeling of losing me; but I don’t look forward to that day. I want the woman who birthed me and raised me and loves me and fights for me even when I won’t fight for myself.

I think of my wife. My strong and amazing wife who isn’t afraid to love me when I have been the hardest of people to love. My wife who will uproot her life over and over again so I may follow this odd compulsion I believe is from God to try to share the love and gospel of Jesus the Christ. My wife who birthed our children, and has loved me in ways that help me better understand God. You know enough of my story to know that without her I have no idea where or who I would be today. She fights for me when I won’t fight for myself.

I think of my daughter, my fierce preteen baby girl. She isn’t afraid to be who she is. At 8-years-old she preached a sermon when I was sick. She didn’t preach anything I was planning; she had a sermon in her. I asked her what she was going to preach on and she said, “The Preposterous Brothers” (I’d find out after another question she meant the story the rest of us call it “The Prodigal Son,” I still think her title is better). When I asked if she was afraid, she said, “No,” as nonchalantly as only a child could do. I’m told she was amazing, and I have no doubt. She gives me courage to be as unafraid as she is.

The women were there. They weren’t afraid. And they knew something about Jesus that the men didn’t. They already knew that he raised people to new life. Jesus resurrected the personhood of women in a society and in a culture where they had no personhood. They knew in God’s eyes they were stronger and more amazing than any culture will ever understand. So, they stood there to make sure that Jesus wasn’t alone. I wonder if they gave him the courage to be too.

There is no greater shame in the Church universal than its terrible and sorry treatment of women. We are followers of the One who resurrected women’s personhood, who made sure that there was, as Paul said, “no longer male and female for all are one in Christ Jesus.” And when we look at our history—and our present—if we can’t repent then we have no idea what the word “repent” means. But its Lent, and Lent is about repentance.

So, think of the women today my friend. Think of your mother, your wife, your sister, your daughter, and every other woman. Think of them and learn from them, and learn from Jesus too. Then work with God that in this world women no longer have to be afraid ever.

Until tomorrow my friend,