Jesus the Feminist

The 8th of March is the International Day of Women. The 2017 theme is Women in the Changing World of Work.

We have lots to be thankful for in the freedoms gained for women over the years.

Thank you Lord for the changes we have seen.

We still have a long way to go. The term “feminism” dates back to 1872 and was used to describe emerging movements for women’s rights, seeking equality and freedom. It was much needed. For example in the UK:
• Until 1882 a wife’s property belonged to her husband
• Women were forbidden to ride a bicycle
• Women were barred from higher education
• Many roles and professions excluded women
• Women only gained the right to vote in 1918 and then only over the age of 25, whilst men could vote at 21.
• Up until 1925 a women could be imprisoned if she left her husband
• Women were paid less for work done, and mostly, still are.

In many countries significant inequality remains and a form of structural and institutional oppression affects women on a daily basis. Feminism is a movement that challenges the accepted norms and values in society that promote and justify inequality, racism, oppression, marginalisation and abuse. There are many forms of feminism that have evolved. Here are a few ones to consider:

1) Liberal Reformist Feminism: seeks equal treatment and equal opportunities within society for women and men.

2) Socialist Feminism: seeks to address the inequality in society of pay and takes into account that class and ethnicity also play a part in marginalisation and oppression. What this looks like today is that certain roles are held for working class, ethnic minority women.

3) Radical Feminism: seeks to address stereotypical patriarchal representations of women.

Where would Jesus stand with regards to feminism?

Jesus entered into a society where women were still held in low esteem, classed with the outcasts of society such as lepers, Samaritans, prostitutes and tax collectors. Women were not allowed to learn Scripture and were seen as property, much like a slave.

As we follow the life of Jesus, we see him breaking social norms:
• Speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. This very act would make him religiously unclean. (John 4)
• He did not condemn the woman caught in adultery (John8), in fact he saved her life and called her to transformation
• He was not angry with the woman who touched his hem to receive healing, which again would have left him religiously unclean. In fact, he commended her faith.
• He received the love and care offered by the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. He commended her love. (Luke 7)
• Women financial and practically supported Jesus’ ministry. (Luke 8)
• He welcomed women to sit at his feel and learn. (Luke 10)
• He welcomed women and children with care and concern.
• He showed love and concern for the widow who gave out of her poverty.
• It was to women that he first revealed his risen self.

Jesus was certainly a catalyst for a movement to address the inequalities and oppression society had imposed on women.

Many times we have focused quite rightly on the freedom of women, but I think we also need to work on the freedom of men who themselves are enslaved into ways of thinking and behaving that society wrongly justifies.

There is a deeper problem that we together need to address that has affected us all and the inequalities in society simply represent the symptoms of an underlying issue. It is an issue that takes root in our hearts, our social structures, and distorts and even perverts our relationships with one another, with God, with ourselves and with creation. The problem is sin and pride, greed and power, selfishness and fear.

God’s liberating agenda seeks to bring freedom for men and women, to reconcile and restore healthy and life-giving relationships.

Lord, thank you for showing us the way through everyday acts that demonstrate love and inclusion, equality and wholeness for all. We confess our brokenness and sin to you and ask that you would help us to be your image bearers and be reconcilers in our family, community and nation.

We pray for the SDG 4 and 5 goals that continue to work towards equality for all, especially enabling women and girls to have equal opportunities in life.

Come Lord, and liberate us!

Renew our World

Our earth is under great pressure at present and the most vulnerable are often the ones who bear the brunt of climate change's extreme weather patterns. The earth is God's and we are here to steward all living creatures well, as caretakers of the planet. Dr Chris Elisara, World Evangelical Alliance's Creation Care director, says, "In today’s world where the interrelated and chronic problems of poverty and environmental degradation affect billions of people’s lives, the Church needs some biblically sound and effective practical responses to offer its members." Renew our World is a campaign that aims to mobilise Christians around issues of climate change.

Pray for the Renew Our World campaign - that many Christians all around the globe would take up the challenge to change their lifestyles and encourage others to do the same.

Lord, please forgive us for how we have treated your planet and abused and allowed others to abuse that which you have given us to care for and steward. 

God, help us change so that we can give up that which needs to be given up in order to limit the damage done to our planet.

Lent and Ending Violence Against Children

By Jayakumar Christian, World Vision’s Head of Faith and Development

Lent is a season of preparation and anticipation. It is a time to seek forgiveness and reflect on the brokenness of our world; seeing it through God’s own eyes.

For me, that prospect is daunting. Because right now, God must see a world that is very broken indeed. One where a billion children experience some sort of violence every year.

Children who are physically, sexually and emotionally abused. Forced into child labour, early marriage or armed recruitment.
Psalms tell us “Children are a gift from the Lord. They are a reward”. Failing to protect them must therefore be the most egregious affront to Him. One that we must all be responsible for rectifying.
It is possible, there are proven solutions.

So this Lent, we’re asking you to do more than just reflect. We’re asking you to support our new campaign ‘It takes a world to end violence against children’ and take meaningful action to ensure every child is safe, loved and able to thrive.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free” (Isaiah 58:6)

That we will see an end to violence against children. Organise prayer vigils for children you know are experiencing violence at home and around the world. For instance, the many millions of children affected by the now six-year war in Syria.

Advocate for law or policy change to better protect children, make sure young people in your community have somewhere to go for help if they’re experiencing violence. Live the gospel and embrace children and their families who seek refuge among you.

It takes a world to end violence against children. It takes faith… it takes you and me. May this Lent provide you with the direction to best serve Him and the most vulnerable people in our society.

Asia Regional Consultation

Micah Global's Asia Regional Consultation is happening next month (24-28 April) in Thailand and we would appreciate your prayer as we wrap up the logistics and finalise the programme etc. We believe that Regional Consultations are important as they help us, as fellow influencers for the Kingdom, to learn together, share experiences and synergies, and multiply the impact on our work and lives. When we gather we develop a greater shared vision, and courage for the journey.

Pray for those who want to be there but are still working out the logistics, that nothing gets in the way of people being there.

God, please provide for every person who wants to be at the gathering, and open our hearts to learn, share and grow from the experience.

Prayer Points in Brief

Soet Htet: who was responsible for the Healing Wounds of Ethnic Conflict Workshop to be run in Myanmar in March has just been diagnised with cancer and undergoing treatment. Please pray for healing. Also pray that others will rise to the challenge to cover the workshop preparations.

Christians in Sinai: Seven Christians have been killed this year in the Sinai, Egypt and many displaced because of the threats placed on them. Let us pray for these families mourning those they have lost and for the families who have had to run for their lives. Pray that homes would be provided for them and support given in their times of need.

Up and coming events: Micah has a number of exciting events taking place each month. These spaces are critical for theological and practial reflection, discerning together how best to serve and be salt and light. Please take time each day to cover these events in prayer. See our events page for more info.

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