Celebrate Magdala…And Other Hidden Women of the Word!
By: Emily Holtel-Hoag
The image for the Women and the Word campaign says it all. The women were there with Jesus—listening to him, proclaiming his word, ministering to the sick and hungry, nurturing the family. Yet how often are Jesus’ women disciples left out of the picture? And, how often do we hear about these women during our weekly Sunday worship—in the proclamation of the word or in the preaching afterwards?
Even the first witness to the Resurrection—the one Jesus entrusted to convey the most important event of our faith—Mary of Magdala, is often left out. Easter Sunday’s gospel in the U.S. lectionary stops just before the story of her encounter with Jesus and his commissioning to tell the others the good news. Her story as well as the stories of many other biblical women of faith are left out or diminished in our current lectionary.
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This year, as in years past, the stories will be told. The celebrations of the July 22 Feast of St. Mary of Magdala in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia and elsewhere will tell the true story of Mary of Magdala as Apostles to the Apostles, correcting the erroneous image of repentant prostitute. More stories will be told- of the Miriam, Judith, Mary of Bethany, Lois and Eunice, of the faithful women of today in our local communities and throughout the world that are ever so rarely proclaimed.
The annual Mary of Magdala celebrations are one of the many ways FutureChurch will advocate for the goals of the Women and the Word campaign. The two-year campaign is raising awareness about the invisibility of women's biblical leadership and experience in Church preaching and scripture proclamation. It leads up to the 2008 synod “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church.” FutureChurch will provide concrete suggestions to synod leaders for ways to listen to women’s voices, particularly in preaching and proclaiming the Word. (see ad p. 3). The Mary of Magdala celebrations this year are one of the ways to begin to spread the word and educate our friends and community members of the opportunity to shape the synod with our voices.
Will You Tell Their Story? As a FutureChurch supporter please consider hosting a celebration. We can support you in this most important work by providing you with an organizing kit with the tools you need to organize your own celebration—a sample prayer service, tips for planning, reproducible artwork, sample media releases and more. Since July 22nd is a Sunday this year, what better time to educate an entire parish community about this Apostles to the Apostles than at the regularly scheduled Saturday and Sunday liturgies at your parish? And, what a great opportunity to promote lay preaching, one of our suggestions for the Women and the Word: Synod 2008 campaign.
Women should never be in the shadows of the Church and of the central message of Jesus. Let’s bring all the gifts of women to light with our celebrations, postcards, prayers and voices!