Scripture: John 20:
17 Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ "
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Observation: The calling of God is not limited by gender, race, age, education or social status.
Application: One of the things that makes me proud to be a Methodist is the fact that the calling of women into the ministry is celebrated and utilized. This past Sunday a female pastor in the county next to me was on her way from one church to another for services and was killed in a car accident. My heart goes out to her family and the congregations which she served. As I think about her years of service to God and how she followed her calling I can’t help but to wonder about obstacles and prejudices that she (as with all women in ministry) must have encountered. Even though our denomination is clear about it, and well founded in the tradition of having women in the pulpit I know that there are still some who oppose it.
I reluctantly admit that when I was a teenager and was reading through the Bible on my own for the first time, that I was opposed to women in ministry. I felt that the teachings of the Bible forbad it and that we as Methodist were wrong in allowing it. I no longer feel that way, and I haven’t for many years. There is no denying that there are parts of the scripture especially in the New Testament that call for the silence of women, but as we read those words today I think there are some important things to consider.
Women in the culture and society of first century Palestine were not allowed to have an education, they were completely subservient to men and had very strictly defined roles in which they were allowed to live. For us now, those roles have changed, women are often much more educated than men, and they play almost every role imaginable in the professional world. As equal as women are now in our society, who are we to say that they must continue in the roles they were assigned by an ancient culture two thousand years ago?
It’s obvious from our selected scripture this morning that Jesus had no problem calling women into ministry. Here we have Mary Magdalene as the very first person in the world to proclaim the good news Gospel that Jesus was risen from the dead. He could have chosen anyone to be the first person to proclaim this message, but he didn’t pick Peter, or John, or any of the other disciples or men, instead He chose Mary.
Prayer: Dear God,
As we your people continue to grow in faith and understanding, help us to be receptive and open to all those you have called into your service. Help us to put the past behind and remove the prejudices that we have developed because of our pride. Keep us focused on the important things which is love for one another and the spreading of your Gospel to all people.