Devotions for the week of: September 2, 2020
Proverbs 31:10-31 A Capable Wife
10 A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant,
she brings her food from far away.
15 She rises while it is still night
and provides food for her household
and tasks for her servant-girls.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds herself with strength,
and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid for her household when it snows,
for all her household are clothed in crimson.
22 She makes herself coverings;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the city gates,
taking his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
she supplies the merchant with sashes.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her happy;
her husband too, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her a share in the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the city gates.
What does it mean to be a “capable wife?” I must admit, this question sends shivers down my spine. I think about my daughters and ask this question instead: “What does it mean to be a capable partner?” Then, while I take a deep breath and breathe in God’s love, I also ask, “What does it mean to be a capable pastor, a capable teacher, a capable barista, a capable street cleaner, a capable grandparent, a capable caregiver?” All require specific gifts, given to us by God, which, if honed, make us capable humans of vocation.
Last year, during the Advent and Christmas season at St. John American Lutheran, as intern pastor while also serving as the developer of Church on the Street, I struggled to do all I typically do for my family. The rigors of the season gave way to me not having time to make Christmas cookies, shop for special gifts, or even plan Christmas dinner. All I had known, the balance I had strived for, was lost. Although this was a life-giving time for me, I didn’t feel like a capable mother or partner.
As I left St. John on Christmas Day, a lovely couple met me at my car with gifts for my children and husband, and a full Christmas dinner in a box. The spirit of mutual ministry came alive; they helped me be a capable mother/partner so I could be their capable pastor-in-training. As I returned home, my children were listening to Christmas music, frosting cookies, laughing, and enjoying each other, and my husband was laughing and watching Christmas Vacation. No-one was making sure the high bar I had set for myself was met. They knew this was merely a season of life, and sometimes “capable” is relative while grace abounds.
In today’s world, it is easy to have an initial reaction as I did. And this is where I pause and think of the women who have come before me. We have 50 years (and many more) of women who have shown us what it means to be capable humans with strong faith willing to lead this church. They are not lifted up to invoke anger, resentment, or to set a high bar, but to do as their vocation calls. They are the Proverbs woman. Proverbs 31:10-31 was not written to make women feel like they aren’t enough, to give them something to live up to, to be a prescription for Biblical worthiness, or to bring on insecurity or feelings of inadequacy. Proverbs denotes strength, giftedness, excellence, and virtue.
In 2020, we have amazing examples of capable women who have honed their God-given gifts for the sake of the church without losing who they are as humans and as partners. As we celebrate the 50-40-10 Anniversaries, we give thanks for the capable women of the church- capable whether married or not, capable women of color, and capable women of the LGBTQ community. Together, we serve as women of fortitude, in work that expresses faith, hope, and love in ways that build people up and bring people together.
Song: “Lord, Whose Love in Humble Service”
Mission Developer of Church on the Street
Dear God, we give thanks for the women who have inspired generations. By sharing their gifts while empowering others to do the same, they transform the whole world and the church. Your mercy and grace have been found in the likes of the least of these, the lost, and the last; and places where woman often show up with love, kindness, and generosity. Guide us, your church, to gather there and find solidarity in You. Amen.
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