What strike me as a read through this account is – what faith God has placed in these two women!
In a society that treated women as if they were too empty-headed or erratic to learn and teach Scripture, it is Scripture that Luke tells us the angels point to in order to help those women gathered to prepare the body of Jesus that has been buried understand that Christ is risen.
In a society where women were told to be silent in the presence of men, obedient to them, but never to teach them or direct them, it is women that God chooses to be the first to have an experience of Jesus risen and to be the first to share the truth that in some mysterious way in Jesus God had overcome death and promised to each of us life beyond the grave.
In this account God puts so much faith in women.
So often this has not been the message we Christians have given.
I think of a church I attended as a child in which women were told to be silent. They were not allowed to preach, to teach Bible classes, even to lead music at worship. They were told to obey their husbands and even though no one directly said husbands abusing their wives and daughters was ok, as an adult I came to later understand in that male-dominated church culture, that was a norm. Daughters learned to look at their own bodies with fear through complicated rules about dress, makeup, and jewelry.
Such a religious culture which pushes women into a second-class status is not unique to the Adventist strain of Christianity I experienced as a young person in the Adventist Church of God movement. I later saw it in some strands of Pentecostalism, Baptists, some Jewish and Muslim groups, and I am sure it exists outside the Abrahamic faiths anywhere that the true purpose of religion has become co-opted so it ceases to be about liberation and becomes about control and power.
The resurrection of Christ is the ultimate symbol for Christian of liberation. Even the oppression of death, death as a criminal, cannot completely dehumanize a child of God. Rather it opens the doorway for deeper liberation.
And so it is fitting for those most oppressed and put down to become the first ministers of the Gospel, the first proclaimers of liberty.
To honor God’s choice of such women as the proclaimers of the Gospel, we need to put aside any lingering commitments to misogyny. We need to put aside barriers to women discovering their voice, whether as leaders in the church or the world, or even as ones whose feelings and needs matter in the family. We need to make our houses of worships places of healing where women are not taught to stay in abusive relationships and abusers are confronted in their need for change, so that our faith communities are places that make people whole not stuck.
Just as I have seen people of faith lose their way and allow a mis-interpretation of their faith to crush woman under foot, so I have also seen faith be the source of liberation, discovery of value, and finding their voice for women who have been oppressed.
How have you seen this happen? Please tell me your story.
Let us work toward living out the liberating truth of our faith today and all our days.
And I ain’t whistling Dixie here,
Your progressive redneck preacher,