I remember being a little girl, growing up in the South in the 1980s and realizing from a young age that the world treated boys better than girls. At that time, my evidence was clothes, sports and social norms. I never heard a boy reprimanded for being loud (though I am sure they were); they seemed to always have on comfortable clothes and getting dirty in sports or anything else was not that big of a deal.
In church I saw only male ministers and deacons, though my own mom and most of her friends were doing so much of the work of the church.
I can remember thinking that it would have been better if I had been born a boy. I never wrestled with my gender identity like so many have; for me it was about worldview.
Sadly, this worldview has not changed much in the last 30 years. I still hear from young female ministers that they were not encouraged to become ministers, did not see ministers in their churches, especially if they grew up Baptist, and wondered if they were hearing God wrong.
How sad!! How troubling! How un-Godlike.
And yet, those of us who identify as female, who were raised in the church did not see ourselves reflected in the scriptures often either. And when the women were there, it seemed they were either sex workers, discarded and disgraced by the community servants, poor decision makers and others who were “bad girls”; or on the other extreme they were the mother of Jesus, successful business owners, judges and leaders of the community.
Where were the “ordinary” women, the ones who showed up for their friends, their kids, their communities in everyday ways? Were they not favored by God? Were they overlooked for their ordinariness?
By human and Biblical writer standards, yes. After all, why do we need to mention anyone who is just ordinary? Why do we need to talk about someone who has no name, no status, no great accomplishment?
Except we do. We do need to talk about them because God created them, cares for them, and loves them.
In the text from Zephaniah, we see a theme of love for the daughter of Zion. And while this daughter could be Jerusalem, she could also be a daughter. This changes everything! Read the words, inserting the name of a daughter you know, the daughter you are, the daughter you have.
“Sing aloud, Carrie…. Rejoice, Carrie!”
“The ageless one, your God, is in your midst, Carrie.”
“God will renew your love, Carrie.”
“I will deal with your oppressors, Carrie.”
This is a life-changing passage when we make it personal, daughter driven. How freeing! How stop in your tracks, take a deep breath, feel the love from God!
These words are for the everyday daughter. The one who is learning to ride her bike; the one who us learning to drive a car. They are for the one who is navigating relationships and entering a new job. They are for the one who is not sure of her place in the world and the one who is living into her place.
These words are for every daughter, everywhere, in all times.
What would happen if these words were on every daughter’s wall, whispered as a blessing to them, and printed on posters. What if these words were the first ones they heard every day and the last ones they heard every night?
We are charged by God to name the nameless, see the overlooked and bless them all.
Let us rejoice, daughter! For you, we, all of us are beloved by God!
Rev. Carrie Veal is Executive Minister of Community and Engagement at Myers Park Baptist Church. Carrie is passionate about the Enneagram, exercise and ministry. She loves to bake, cook, read, and write. She is continuing to define, redefine, and understand what it means to be a feminist, a term she wrestles with in all the beautiful ways.
This blog series made possible in part by a gift from Myers Park Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC.
If you or your congregation is also using Year W this liturgical year, we would love to hear from you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further resources and online conversation about using the Year W lectionary can also be found at Wilda Gafney’s website: https://www.wilgafney.com/womenslectionary/