The traditions of our church regale the accomplishments of the great leaders who have led us to Jesus.
Prophets, apostles, martyrs, missionaries and priests have dedicated their lives to making the Good News known to all peoples. As is all of history, secular and religious, little mention is made of the women of faith. Brief bible passages here and there are but footnotes to the history of our Church.
Yet, there is much history untold of the work of women in our Church. While women in the past have honoured their traditional roles of nurturers, handmaidens and unequal partners to their husbands, there are many instances of prolonged and silent service to our Lord. Many women through the decades have joined religious orders, forgone secular life and devoted themselves to the service of God.
The wives of the apostles are unheralded. Surely there were children to care for and responsibilities to assume when their men followed Jesus. Who supported the families when the men sat at the foot of Jesus? Did the women and their children travel with their husbands or stay at home? Did they share in their husbands’ zeal for the Lord but stayed behind to care for their families?
Women did travel to unknown parts of the world with their missionary husbands, setting up churches, schools and hospitals in tireless, undocumented service. Women have been humble in their accomplishments, even to this day.
It is only now that we are seeing women taking on untraditional roles and becoming known in our Church: members of parish councils, wardens, deacons, priests and even bishops, though we continue to serve gladly in our altar guilds, ACW groups and many church functions.
Our light, which may have been shining only as small candles through the ages, is becoming brighter. Yet, let’s embrace even the most modest candle, as its light will be cast farther than we may think. Look how far away are the stars and how small their light may seem. In a dark sky, they are clearly seen. In a bright sky, not so much. But that light is still there, shining as best it can, lighting the way for us, just as a small candle will. Embrace your light, your faith. Nurture it, fuel it. And, do not be afraid to let it shine more brightly. The world needs to know that women know and love God and will follow Jesus. Just as women always have.
The old King James version of this Bible passages reads: “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works…” Pardon the paraphrase but… men do need to see the good works of women that glorify Our Father which is in heaven. They need to recognize the contribution of women to our church. We need to let them see us, to see our light shining.
Bonnie G. Rees, President
ACW Diocesan Council