I was listening to one of my favorite churches a couple of weeks ago. I fast-forwarded through the praise and worship. The senior pastor wasn’t there, but his associate pastors ran the service well. (This church has a large congregation, and there are a lot of ministers/preachers on the roster.)The preacher used my favorite Psalm as his text. But the best part of this particular service, in my opinion, was the benediction. It stopped me in my tracks.
The Reverend Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams said, “And now, may the God of Abraham, and Sarah, and Hagar, the God of Isaac and Rebekah, The God of Jacob and Leah, and Rachel, direct your steps, make your paths straight, fill your mouths with good things and lead you to that good and promised land. Amen.”
I have heard a lot of benedictions in my life. I have never heard anything like this. Baptist folk are quick to invoke the names of the forefathers of the faith, but the foremothers rarely get elevated in such a manner.
We tend to focus on the faith of the men and the faults of the women. Sarah laughed at God’s plan. Hagar ran. Rebekah helped her favorite child trick her husband. Leah wasn’t as pretty as her sister and kept up a rivalry for years. Rachel stole her father’s idols. Sure, these women were problematic. But so were their husbands. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob weren’t always honest in their dealings. We tend to focus on what they did right. We should give the women that same courtesy. We should say their names.
Lord, make me fruitful like the mothers of the faith, the ones whose names I have recorded here and the ones whose names I do not know. Help me to honor their roles in building your kingdom by fulfilling the role you gave to me. Thank you for their sacrifices. For through them came the ultimate sacrifice, and for that, I am eternally grateful!