I want churches to spend one year preaching about women in the Bible and feminine images of God. That’s why I wrote The Women’s Lectionary: Preaching the Women of the Bible throughout the Year.
Do you want to preach more about women in the Bible?
I started this project because I did. I wanted resources for the stories we don’t hear about women, like the stories of Tamar, Huldah, and Elizabeth. What started as a calendar of readings has expanded to over 100 commentaries about these women and many others. And I found that I was not alone in wanting to hear these stories.
Some people have been waiting their whole lives to hear sermons about these women.
A few years ago, I preached at the vespers service for a local retirement community. After worship, a woman came up to thank me for my message. She said that she had never heard a sermon from Mary’s perspective before. “The women are there in the Bible,” she mused, “but no one ever talks about them!” I want people to hear these sermons sooner.
Others are at the beginnings of their lives and can be formed by these stories and images.
When I was a child, I never heard a woman preach. I grew up in a nondenominational church where I didn’t hear a woman give a sermon until I was in my 30s. When my niece was a baby, I would push her in her stroller saying things like, “God is a mother, too. You don’t have to call God ‘he.’” I want little girls like her to know that God speaks to women and through women, in the Bible and now.
Preachers are looking for ways to tell these stories from the pulpit.
For the past five years, I have taught preaching to students at Candler School of Theology. I hear the stories about how the women in seminary want to see reflections of themselves in the pulpit. They are looking for resources on how to preach as their authentic selves. I wrote this book for them. I want these new pastors to use the commentaries in The Women’s Lectionary as a tool for deep exegetical work and to preach about how the Spirit moves through the lives of women.
We need new stories.
This past year has been so hard for pastors. Balancing the needs of worship planning in a pandemic and the increasing demands of pastoral care during this time of crisis has been overwhelming. As we continue into the unknown, I hear preachers looking for something new. For fresh ways to think about God and to explore some of the stories we don’t always hear. Pastors can use The Women’s Lectionary to tell new stories.
There are many ways to tell these stories.
Of course, I would like preachers to use The Women’s Lectionary as a guide to choose preaching texts for a year (or two!). But I understand not everyone has that flexibility. It is a resource for you, however you structure your preaching. If you use the Revised Common Lectionary, there are commentaries on those passages. If you are looking for a sermon series, there are suggestions for those. It is ideal for leading Bible studies. And you can use it for your own spiritual refreshment, letting the images and stories speak to you.
The church is changing.
More women are going to seminary than ever before. According to statistics from The Association of Theological Schools, 34.5 percent of all people enrolled in theological schools are women.1 These women feel called to preach and to lead, to share how God is moving through them and their communities.
God is at work.
God is working through these women to bring new life to old structures. And as we look through the Bible, we can see how God, like a mother hen gathering her brood under her wings, has been doing this work all along.
- The Association of Theological Schools, “2019-2020 Annual Data Tables,” 36, http://www.ats.edu/uploads/resources/institutional-data/annual-data-tables/2014-2015-annual-data-tables.pdf.