A Woman of Valor

Following is a sermon I delivered for Mothers Day, May 12, 2013 at Pocatello First United Methodist Church.

It’s Mother’s Day, a day when we honor women who have biologically given birth, those who serve as mothers and care for the people around them. I also have a special place in my heart for women who want to become mothers but for whatever reason have not been able to do so. We honor and love you all!

Today’s Scripture is meant to honor women, but I must admit that when I listen to it, I don’t hear the honor. I feel the burden. If this is meant as a check off list of what the perfect woman is suppose to do, how can I ever measure up? The standard seems impossible! It makes the modern idea of the “superwoman” who has it all seem downright easy! It goes along with the saying, “Man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.” It sounds so … oppressive.

But I want to get back to the idea that this was meant to honor women, not oppress them. It is traditional for this passage to be recited as funerals for Jewish women. Puzzling.

I think there are two things that we need to keep in mind. One, this is a poem; so perhaps, we’re not supposed to take every line at face value. The other thing is that it is from the book of Proverbs. Most of Proverbs is made up of short pithy statements that are intended to be used as guidelines. One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes from Proverbs chapter 3 verse 5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” The statements are presented as absolutes, but they are not necessarily intended to be applied without thought, without Wisdom.

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