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What the Women Disciples Can Teach Us

Jesus had 12 male disciples, but he also had female disciples and other women who were devoted to him. We’ll meet one of these women Sunday. Luke 7:36-50 doesn’t tell us her name, but the scripture passage tells us about “a sinful woman” who crashed a dinner party held in Jesus’s honor and demonstrated extravagant love for him. She washed Jesus’s feet with ointment. Washing feet was a standard act of hospitality in the days when people walked everywhere in sandals.

John’s gospel includes a similar story, only the woman is identified as Mary, the sister of a man named Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. And there’s another Mary, Mary Magdalene. According to Luke, Jesus freed Mary from demonic possession, and Mary helped finance Jesus’s earthly ministry. If you’re wandering from village to village preaching instead of farming or fishing, somebody has to buy your food! John’s gospel says that Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus raised from the dead. She ran to tell the male disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” making Mary the apostle to the apostles. (They were Jesus’s disciples during his earthly ministry, but after Jesus was raised, they became apostles—people sent to tell others about Jesus.)

In Sunday’s worship service we’re going to sing a hymn about these women. It’s #201 in the hymnal, and it’s titled, A Prophet-Woman Broke a Jar. According to the hymnal, author Brian Wren wrote the hymn “to reverse the neglected witness of biblical women by celebrating” this unnamed woman and Mary Magdalene. The tune is “How Can I Keep from Singing.”

Members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) are grateful for women’s witness to Jesus Christ and the material support women have provided for Christ’s Church. Women's testimony and generosity are some of the reasons why we ordain women in our denomination. This Sunday, as our “Welcome All” series concludes, we invite you to worship with us as explore what one bold woman from long ago can teach us about hospitality. In the meantime, here is a video of the hymn we’ll sing:

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