We are the women of the Holy Week

The LilypadMary Magdalene, the one released from seven demons, lingers in the garden weeping, her tears watering the soil.  She is known as the "apostle to the apostles" in Church history, and for most of us, she appears to be the female headliner in the story of Holy Week. We witness her tears of deep sorrow, her unawareness that she kneels moments away from her commissioning as the first evangelist to spread the news that He is Risen, just as he said.

Our hearts will jump as her heart leaps for joy!

From Reclaiming Eve:

"It wasn't the empty tomb that gave Mary Magdalene hope again; it was the voice of the very much alive Jesus that made her physically jump for joy. And the fact that he appeared first to her signaled a dramatic departure from relationships as usual. For as a women in her culture, Mary Magdalene held few rights. She would never hold up as an official eyewitness to anything in court. She was likely aware that the pious male Jews thanked God regularly that they were not born as women. She knew her place, and her place would always be second.

Apparently Jesus did not get the memo. After what historians point to as the pivotal events in all of human history—Christ's death and Resurrection—Jesus chose to appear not to his circle of male disciples, but to a female disciple who loved and served him faithfully. And he told her to immediately tell the 12 male disciples. What is so terribly ironic in all of this is that none of them believed her (Mark 16:11). Yet Mary would go down in history as the "apostle to the apostles"—the one chosen by Jesus to spread the good news" (p. 112).

But why, Lord, we ask? Why appear to a woman whose word would not immediately be trusted?

All of the women of Holy Week, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Salome, Joanna, the ones last at the cross and first to the tomb, remind me of something about all of the daughters of Eve.

They brought the very thing we women are afraid to show—our neediness—to the feet of the humble rabbi. Demons were released. Insecurities erased. Religious foundations shaken and reset by the inbreaking Kingdom of Jesus.

These women sat at his feet. They felt his touch, simple and pure. Scandalous though it may have been, they dined with him—some of them supplying his food out of their funds—receiving back immeasurably more than they gave. Freedom from sin, release from shame—the teaching he offered them, filled with life, when they became his disciples.

At the cross their hearts broke in two, but the Life-giver, the Grave-robber, was already knitting them back together again. They came broken, needy, desperate. They left amazed, restored, and capable of doing exactly what Jesus asked of them. Released to lead in loving God and neighbor. Lifted up to resist injustice and free the oppressed. Taught so winsomely to teach others to become his disciples.

And don't you see, we are the women of the Holy Week. We need demons rebuked. We suffer from insecurity and inferiority and shame. What we need is a Savior, a lifter of our heads. The abused ones, and the disregarded and marginalized ones, and the seemingly healthy ones, too, the young and the aging, the vibrant and the dying. Like the women of the Holy Week, we come needy and walk away whole, no matter our circumstance. And we women know, this is too much freedom to keep to ourselves. It is Holy Week, and Sunday's coming, and we must go and tell.

Mary Magdalene, the one released from seven demons, lingers in the garden weeping, her tears watering the soil. 

Our hearts will jump as her heart leaps for joy.

Watch a video short of Mary Magdalene's story here. How do the women of Holy Week point you to freedom and wholeness in Christ?

On #ReclaimingEve: “I recommend this resource for every daughter of Eve!” — Nancy Beach, leadership coach, speaker; author, Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church

Reclaiming Eve Small Group DVD sample here. Includes print Bible study piece; great for group studies! Order here.

What we talk about when we talk about women in church: part three

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We hear sermons about the 12 disciples quite regularly. In my experience, Paul, too, seems to surface often during the Sunday morning sermon, instructing churches in the way of the gospel. Abraham was called to father a nation, Moses was called to deliver that nation, David was called—despite his sin—to lead that nation, paving the way for the eventual life, death and Resurrection of Jesus.

This is our story, the story of our Redemption. But in truth, it's not the whole story. Vital characters are often missing. If one were to sit in our church services on Sunday morning, one might conclude that women are at best of marginal value in the Kingdom of God.

And sisters and brothers, this ought not so to be. 

So I was at Walmart the other day, looking for a magazine to buy, when I stumbled across this.

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And I visibly winced. Rolled my eyes. I may even have uttered a loud sigh.

I'm not proud of my reaction (my husband came over to see what was the matter), but I admit that everything inside me said: Welcome to a piece that will probably trivialize the women of the Bible, avoiding hard parts of their stories, sexualizing them and making them incidental, holding up the "best" version of womanhood as one where a woman shrinks and settles for a cultural notion of 'biblical womanhood.'"

Either I have a colorful imagination or I've experienced places where women are viewed as less than. OK, both things are true.

But when I opened the pages of this American Bible Society publication, I was surprised and a bit transfixed.

While not diminishing the patriarchal culture the women of the Bible inhabited, Extraordinary Women of the Bible: Heroines and the Lessons They Can Still Teach Us highlights the ways in which biblical women broke the mold. I'm sure I would have written the stories a bit differently, especially the story of Eve (highlighting Christ's redemptive work), but I've not found a resource that introduces female characters in a short, honest and uplifting way. You could read much of it to an eight-year-old or have them read it themselves (being aware of some of the difficult situations and wrong choices that are made in the section on Four Women Who Embraced Evil, which is wonderfully instructive in its own way.) Pictures of culturally and ethnically diverse women fill its pages.

And so it is that brief stories of Hagar, and Rachel and Deborah and Jael, Huldah, Athaliah and Dorcas and more spring to life, often forgotten in our teachings and our sermons, but remembered by a God who calls things as not as though they were.

Let them not remain hidden in a magazine in Walmart, but preached on, studied as the great spiritual biographies they are, uncovered through focused energy and scholarship and the simple effort of making room for the women of the Bible.

And may this truth be known far and wide, speaking gospel liberating truth into places and spaces that dehumanize women: selling them, subordinating them, and abusing them as they see fit. Jesus has already set women free. And the stories of Bible women can illustrate the ways of this new Kingdom, shattering the shackles that bind.

Great places to start:

  • Watch these two-minute video shorts on how the women of the New Testament who were set free through the gospel. Then share them on your social networks.
  • This just in: the Reclaiming Eve DVD Discussion Guide is now available here and here. Order it now for your book club or fall Bible study (it includes a deeper Bible study for groups) and encourage women in your life to be set free through the power of the gospel.

Who is your favorite woman of the Bible? And why?

On #ReclaimingEve: “Reclaiming Eve offers an insightful walk from the Garden of Eden to the Garden of Gethsemane. Sprinkled with personal stories from three authors of varying ages, women at every stage of life will gain valuable perspective and practical ways to reclaim their identity in Christ. Whether you’re looking for a book to read individually or one you can discuss with a group, Reclaiming Eve stirs up great food for reflection and discussion.” —Marian V. Liautaud, editor of Today’s Christian Woman and author of The War on Women: The World’s Worst Holocaust, and How Christians Are Saving One Girl at a Time

Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

4ffbcc84288edb2d21fa286abee22687A few weeks ago in church, I started chatting with a man named Mike.

"I'm reading your book," he said. (Anytime a brother says this, I want to stand up and shout.)

Smiling, I asked him what he thought.

"At first I wasn't sure what to think," he said. "But then I started reading it. And I thought, this really is what Jesus makes possible. But mostly, I just love the stories. I keep reading to find the stories." 

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Today someone asked me what it feels like to be a published author, and I said "Mostly the same. Except that there is opposition and there is also support, and you just have to do what God is calling you to do." Would I do it all over again, if I knew how hard it would be to get published and to speak into this big conversation the Church desperately needs to have on reclaiming women for the Kingdom?

I would. I would, because one by one, I hear stories of women from Africa to Indiana being set free. Of brothers reading and discussing and supporting their sisters. Of the freedom Jesus came to bring ringing out, a little bit here, a little bit there.

May the freedom song continue, echoing, so that the whole world hears. 

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Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

Linked:

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Video:

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  • Coming soon: I'm doing a Fullfill webinar with Elisa Morgan on May 21 at 2 pm ET/1 pm CT. Sign up here. Especially helpful for those who want to lead a Reclaiming Eve discussion or study.
  • Preorder now: Reclaiming Eve Small Group DVD (Available in July) at beaconhillbooks.com and other online outlets.

Join the #ReclaimingEve conversation on facebook or twitter.

In Reclaiming Eve, you’ll find solid biblical thinking to help you shake off false mythology about womanhood and grab hold of much-needed freedom to embrace your destiny as God’s woman. Pick up this book, throw off the ‘old’ and live out your influence! -Elisa Morgan, Speaker, Author, She Did What She Could and The Beauty of BrokenPublisher, FullFillwww.fullfill.org 

Video Shorts #8: How does the gospel reclaim Eve? Junia's story

 We've made quite a journey together.  In the last eight weeks, we've discovered how the gospel reclaimed seven New Testament womenMary Magdalene, then Mary of BethanyThe Samaritan Woman,  The Unclean WomanPriscillaPhoebe and Lydia.

Last stop: Junia. The most controversial figure of all. In just one verse—Romans 16:7—we discovered that she served with the apostle Paul and that she was noted or outstanding among the apostles. What you may not know is that she was written out of the biblical record for a period of time, only to finally be restored to her rightful place:

Reclaiming Eve Video Shorts: Junia's story from Suzanne Burden on Vimeo.

These videos are made possible through the good work of videographer Ryan Schnurr. These two-minute video shorts work for individual viewing or for discussion in small groups, and they provide encouragement for girls and women about their identity and calling in the kingdom of God. Enjoy! And for the sake of setting God's daughters free, let's share these with our friends. See the share buttons below, and view all eight on the vimeo.com/reclaimingeve channel.

Also: please consider downloading this delightful, but short ebook Junia Is Not Alone by Scot McKnight for $2.99.

Your turn: What surprises you about Junia's story? What gives you hope?

Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.

Video Shorts #7: How does the gospel reclaim Eve? Lydia's story

It's a great story.  In Acts 16:9-10: "During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.' After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them."

What I find humorous about this is that as Paul made his way to Europe, he landed by the river in Macedonia with a bunch of women (not men), Lydia included. I like to think this unlikely set of events is a mark of The Way, an example of how Jesus changed things: women started the church in Philippi and Lydia becomes the first European convert. And Paul will eventually write to these women in Philippians—"because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now" (Phil. 1:5) A blessed alliance, indeed.

 

First, there was Mary Magdalene's story. Then Mary of BethanyThe Samaritan Woman,  The Unclean WomanPriscilla and Phoebe.

These videos are made possible through the good work of videographer Ryan Schnurr. These two-minute video shorts work for individual viewing or for discussion in small groups, and they provide encouragement for girls and women about their identity and calling in the kingdom of God. Enjoy! And for the sake of setting God's daughters free, let's share these with our friends. See the share buttons below, and don't forget to sign up to receive the blog via email in the right column so you don't miss even one.

Next week: Junia's story

Your turn: What hope might Lydia's story bring to women in the Kingdom of God?

Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.

Video Shorts #6: How does the gospel reclaim Eve? Phoebe's story

Am I the only one who is still shocked by Paul's gracious and empowering treatment of the women in his path? I commend to you our sister Phoebe, wrote Paul (Romans 16:1). Paul's old life: Judaizer and Pharisee who relegated women behind the wall in the temple to their appropriate place. Paul's new life: Upended by the gospel, he joins with his sisters as a coworshipper of Christ and a coworker—even commending and sending women like Phoebe as leaders for the sake of the Kingdom.

Enjoy Phoebe's story—and don't forget to pass it on. Let's spread the message of what happens when a woman's life is upended by the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Reclaiming Eve Video Shorts: Phoebe's story from Suzanne Burden on Vimeo.

First, there was Mary Magdalene's story. Then Mary of BethanyThe Samaritan Woman,  The Unclean Woman and Priscilla. And here's the list of New Testament women to come.

These videos are made possible through the good work of videographer Ryan Schnurr. These two-minute video shorts work for individual viewing or for discussion in small groups, and they provide encouragement for girls and women about their identity and calling in the kingdom of God. Enjoy! And for the sake of setting God's daughters free, let's share these with our friends. See the share buttons below, and don't forget to sign up to receive the blog via email in the right column so you don't miss even one.

Next week: Lydia's story

Your turn: What hope might Phoebe's story bring to women in the Kingdom of God?

Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.

Friday meditation + Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

imageWhat is Jesus primarily saying to his daughters? Or put another way, the question repeats: What would you tell the woman who is discouraged by her present circumstances? 

The one facing a dead end. The many wondering how to fully contribute the gifts the Holy Spirit placed in them. Those who may be silenced.

I am not sure that my answer ever completely satisfies; I fear some are looking for the perfect solution.

I have no immediate solution that works for all, though I pray for one. But I do have a Savior.

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I tell them they are the Beloved, the One Jesus loves, and that he delights in them.

I say, remember Jesus, dunked down in the waters of the Jordan, coming up again, only to be covered over with Belovedness, the Spirit alighting, the voice saying:

"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."

Did you know that God loves you this much? That he seeks out the desperate, downtrodden and discouraged and offers them his delight and pleasure? How can I convince you that you are defined by God's intentions—his great, glorious intentions for each of his daughters, and not by your current circumstances?

How can I convince myself?

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Jesus' words ring true for all of us, all of us who are stretching, reaching out to touch his hem, hoping that just a touch will heal.

Who touched me? he says.

We fall at his feet, trembling in fear, and confess the truth.

And he says, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

But there is more than simple healing here. The unclean woman (Mark 5:25-34) went from exclusion (do you feel this, too?) to complete inclusion (a daughter given a place).

Keep reaching for his hem. Keep meeting with him as his Beloved. Watch him heal you and know that no matter what anyone else says, Jesus has already set his daughters free.

Watch the two-minute video on how Jesus frees The Unclean Woman here.

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Reclaiming Eve, Out and About

Linked:

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Broadcast:

  • TheWritingShow.com, hosted by Ann Byle and Dawn Jones, on the challenges and writing of Reclaiming Eve. Listen here.
  • WKTO Florida - Enjoyed a conversation with Carol Henry and prayer for God's daughters to be set free.

Video:

Join the #ReclaimingEve conversation on facebook or twitter.

Video Shorts #5: How does the gospel reclaim Eve? Priscilla's story

Teaching. Loving. Tent-making. Serving with her brothers to spread the gospel, Paul says she and her husband even put their necks on the line.  Enjoy Priscilla's story—and don't forget to pass it on. Let's spread the message of what happens when a woman's life is upended by the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

First, there was Mary Magdalene's story. Then Mary of BethanyThe Samaritan Woman and The Unclean Woman. And here's the list of New Testament women to come.

Reclaiming Eve Video Shorts: Priscilla's story from Suzanne Burden on Vimeo.

These videos are made possible through the good work of videographer Ryan Schnurr. These two-minute video shorts work for individual viewing or for discussion in small groups, and they provide encouragement for girls and women about their identity and calling in the kingdom of God. Enjoy! And for the sake of setting God's daughters free, let's share these with our friends. See the share buttons below, and don't forget to sign up to receive the blog via email in the right column so you don't miss even one.

Next week: Phoebe's story.

Your turn: What about Priscilla's story do you want to emulate?

Register to win one of 25 copies of #ReclaimingEve at goodreads.com through March 25. Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.

Video Shorts #4: How does the gospel reclaim Eve? The Unclean Woman's story

Awhile back, I had an idea that started to stick. Wouldn't it be amazing to tell the inspiring stories of eight women in the New Testament—women whose lives were upended by the gospel of Jesus Christ? Week #1: Mary Magdalene's story. Week #2: Mary of Bethany's story. Week #3: The Samaritan Woman's story. Here's the list of New Testament women to come.

Reclaiming Eve Video Shorts: The Unclean Woman's story from Suzanne Burden on Vimeo.

And here they are! Thanks to the good work of videographer Ryan Schnurr. These two-minute video shorts work for individual viewing or for discussion in small groups, and they provide encouragement for girls and women about their identity and calling in the kingdom of God. Enjoy! And for the sake of setting God's daughters free, let's share these with our friends. See the share buttons below, and don't forget to sign up to receive the blog via email in the right column so you don't miss even one.

Next week: Priscilla's story.

Your turn: What does The Unclean Woman's story teach us about women in God's Kingdom?

Register to win one of 25 copies of #ReclaimingEve at goodreads.com through March 25. Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.

Video Shorts #3: How does the gospel reclaim Eve? The Samaritan Woman's story

Awhile back, I had an idea that started to stick. Wouldn't it be amazing to tell the inspiring stories of eight women in the New Testament—women whose lives were upended by the gospel of Jesus Christ? Week #1: Mary Magdalene's story. Week #2: Mary of Bethany's story. Here's the list of New Testament women to come.

 

And here they are! Thanks to the good work of videographer Ryan Schnurr. These two-minute video shorts work for individual viewing or for discussion in small groups, and they provide encouragement for girls and women about their identity and calling in the kingdom of God. Enjoy! And for the sake of setting God's daughters free, let's share these with our friends. See the share buttons below, and don't forget to sign up to receive the blog via email in the right column so you don't miss even one.

Next week: The Unclean Woman's story.

Your turn: What does The Samaritan Woman's story teach us about women in God's Kingdom?

Register to win one of 25 copies of #ReclaimingEve at goodreads.com through March 25.

Subscribe to my blog via email in the right column. I’m also over on Twitter.