Women were made in God's image, just like men. We know this from the beginning of the Bible: in Genesis we are told this. That point does not seem to have registered with the world very well. Misogynism throughout time has hidden that simple truth. So on the one hand we should not find it surprising that God works through two women in our concluding stories of Esther and Judith we have today. On the other hand, these stories are a reminder to us that God knows the world's misogynistic tendencies, and works through women to try and get the world to move beyond them.
Queen Esther saves the Jewish people living under the reign of King Ahasuerus and defeats her nemesis Haman at the conclusion of her story. Judith cuts off the head of the aggressor army, Holofernes, thereby saving her town from destruction. These stories are important to remember for there are many places in the world today where women are not "equal", are not considered made in the image of God. We don't have to look all that far away from our own country here to know that is true as well: the recent political campaigns have shown just how unequal and misogynistic American society continues to be.
We learn slow, we humans. But we don't have to put up with inappropriate behavior on anyone's part. Our Hebrew Testament readings today show us the strength and power of women. We should never forget that women have been made in the image of God, that God works through women to bring light to the world. This can be challenging with the very masculine language we use in our common prayer. Yet, perhaps when we utilize those masculine pronouns, we can can remember and know that providing God with only a masculine side is denying the fulness and complexity that is our creator. By remembering that, we will be taking a step into the unknown, allowing God to be the mystery that God is.
Copyright 2008, John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.