What if the Gospel included not just the fathers but the mothers’ names in the text? How powerful would it be for women to hear (or to read) the names of the women included in the lineage of Jesus? What a reminder it would be for everyone that both women and men were necessary and important then and today.
Step out of the shadows and into the light all you mothers in the lineage of Christ Jesus!
Pick up a copy of A Women’s Lectionary for the Whole Church and take time to review the names written in Luke 3:31-38, one of the passages chosen for Epiphany IV. Or open your own Bible and read the names of the fathers included in the text. Take time to remember who the mothers were. Write their names down next to the fathers. Do this for as many as you can; include the reference too for ease of study. Go back and read through the lineage again – now with the mother’s names included. What does that do for you?
For me, reading through Dr. Gafney’s translation with several of the mothers’ names included for the reader in brackets, reminded me of the love and purposeful inclusivity of God. Even those who society calls and regards as the least and the lessor were included as a part of Christ Jesus’ earthly lineage.This simple act of adding the mother’s names to the lineage was moving for me to see and to remember as I was reminded again that they each were also an important part of Jesus’ story. God knew the stories of all these women and mothers and chose to include them in the lineage of Christ Jesus despite it not being written and included here in Luke 3.
As I read through the lineage of Jesus with the mother’s names included, I jotted down notes about their story. I remembered how complicated and messy their lives were. And then I marveled anew at how God always included even the least of these. Here are some of those thoughts:
- Verse 31 – Bathsheba – Raped or not prudent enough? Husband killed by written instruction by the King (David). (2 Samuel 11)
- Verse 32 – Ruth – Widow from Moab, a place many regarded as ‘foreign,’ ‘outsider,’ not the chosen place and not the chosen people. Clung to her mother-in-law and followed her instructions. (Ruth 1:14…)
- Verse 32 – Rahab – “Prostitute” that recognized God’s plan and took action to save herself and her family. Liar or protector? Helped the spies escape safely. (Joshua 2)
- Verse 33 – Tamar – Acted as a “prostitute” and had sex with her Father-in-law. Wisely kept proof. Trickster or righteous? (Genesis 38)
- Verse 34 – Leah – The unwanted wife. The unchosen one. Her husband’s heart was for another woman. (Genesis 29:16-35)
- Verse 34 – Rebekah – Devised a plan to trick her husband, coached her son into lying to his father, pit one son against another. Or, ensured that God’s words of the oldest serving the youngest would be carried out. (Genesis 25:23; Genesis 27)
- Verse 34 – Sarai/Sarah – Once barren wife of Abram/Abraham took matters into her own hands to ‘help God out’ with the covenant promise to build a family. (Genesis 16)
- Verse 38 – Eve – The deceived one, mother of men, first woman, created by God, left to fail by her husband. Reason for Adam’s sin and fall of man. Blamed by Adam for his sin. (Genesis 3:6-13)
These narratives and reputations above are all sayings picked up from various Christian circles and Bible studies over time. These are the sometimes contradictory impressions and questions left with me about these women when I hear their names. I remember their stories. For me, when reading the names of these mothers along with the fathers, I was reminded of their colorful and complicated lives. Some might want to leave all of that ‘mess’ out. But, what if God wanted us to know and to remember that despite the messy, and the often unspoken and unseen, Christ was still coming? Christ Jesus would still be there. And that was where God wanted him to be, right in the middle of all of that drama. Accessible to all of us, from all walks and turns and ways in life.
Let us help one another remember. Let us pass on a more complete story, warts and all. What if we included the mothers?
Sejana Yoo is a current Master of Divinity student, wife, mom of two, military veteran, and creative on social media encouraging others online and in her blog at www.sejanashines.com . Reading through and considering the passages and content of this women’s lectionary has helped to shine light on questions and concerns about our understanding of God, women in ministry, and living out our faith honestly and practically in everyday life–from the mundane to the messy.
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/