During the eighteenth century, the United States was not a particularly welcoming place for women looking to speak their minds—especially not African American women looking to speak their minds. But that did not stop God from blessing strong women to speak his words to people who needed to hear. Zilpha Elaw was one such woman.
May we all be inspired by Rev. Rose Hudson-Wilkin, a woman who not only makes history, but does so with boldness and courage, unapologetically and matter-of-factly confronting sexism and racism on the national stage, to powerful leaders, and in some of the world’s most traditional, white and male-dominated halls of power.
The integral inclusion of women in the life of the church continued after the death of the apostles. Preferring rejection, torture, and even death to renouncing their faith, women served Christ as missionaries, scholars, and pilgrims. Women were also noted among the martyrs of the early church, and their astounding courage and faith changed the world.
We can follow these examples of radical acts of loving by making small choices each day: recognizing someone else’s pain before yelling at them for being too needy; giving someone the benefit of the doubt before jumping to conclusions; forgiving someone who has disappointed us.
The tradition of women raising the eucharistic cup is witnessed from the late 100s to the mid-500s, including evidence from the three oldest surviving iconographic artifacts that depict early Christians in real churches.
As women we should be encouraged. We may be soft on the outside, but we’re strong and mighty in spirit. We are God’s secret weapons and the enemy knows it. He takes us seriously, even when others don’t. The enemy’s strategy has been to keep us quiet and in hiding. But God is doing an end run. He is going to release so many of us at once that the enemy is not going to know what hit him!
In prayer this congregation asks for an out pouring of the Holy Spirit, but with an unspoken proviso, that God honor their gender bias: God may pour out His Spirit, but men alone may exhibit the Spirit’s empowering. Yet nothing seems further from the tenor of revival and the passage in Acts where the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on Gentiles, but also on women.