Mar 01

Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday (Year B)

On March 4, 2012, the Presbyterian Church (USA) honors the many gifts of women by participating in “Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday”.  This is a wonderful opportunity to lift up issues of women’s rights, as well as draw attention to the role of women in the church, community, and world.

There are liturgical materials available online at the Presbyterian Church (USA) website.  Also, if you receive Horizons: The Magazine for Presbyterian Women, there are materials available in the November/December 2011 issue.  These materials are written by Frances Taylor Gench, who is a professor of biblical interpretation at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia (as well as a parish associate at a church in Washington, D.C.).

The materials printed in Horizons suggest reading scriptures other than what is provided in the Lectionary.  Specifically, the author suggests reading and meditating upon the story of Hagar.  There are two parts to Hagar’s story.  The first is found in Genesis 16:1-15, and the second is found in Genesis 21:1-21.  I highly recommend the commentary that Frances Taylor Gench provides in the materials online.  There are rich possibilities for these texts.

Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday provides a great opportunity to do some creative decorating in your worship space.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • If your congregation has a Women’s Association, feature the mission work of that group in your worship display.  For example:
    • If the women collect food for a food pantry, gather pantry items in large baskets (perhaps tipped on their side, reminiscent of a cornucopia)
    • If the women knit prayer shawls or make quilts for others, display their handiwork on and around the table.  You can even include the “tools of their trade” in the display (knitting needles, sewing machines, scissors, etc.).
    • You don’t have to limit yourself or your display to just one project, either.  A variety of items that shows the diversity of mission projects can be really nice.
  • You can also feature the many gifts and skills that the women of your congregation have.  This could include using items that suggest what their professions are (doctors, teachers, architects, mothers, artists, etc).  If you use projection equipment in your worship space, pictures of women in a wide variety of careers can lift up the diversity of gifts and skills that women have.
  • In the story of Hagar, she discovers and well of water while she and her son struggle in the wilderness.  You can use river rocks (available in most craft stores, in a variety of sizes and colors) to create a “well” on or near the Table.  You can even use a shallow bowl as the center of the well so that it actually holds water.  Blue fabric could also be used to represent water – perhaps “flowing” from the well, maybe even making it all the way to the baptismal font (which could be a really dramatic visual).
  • If you are following the Revised Common Lectionary, then I would suggest that you consider the Psalm passage (Psalm 22:23-31) as a focus.  The mention that “future generations will be told about the Lord” could be especially meaningful in the context of the gifts of women (think about how many of us heard the Good News told to us by the women in our churches and lives – how many teach Sunday school and Bible studies…).  If you have access to old photos and/or paintings of women from your congregation (perhaps pictures of the Women’s Association from the 1950s, etc), you could use them in a display in the front of the worship space.  Use frames and easels to prop-up the pictures, placing them on different levels (to add textural variety).  Be sure to use pictures of old, new, young, not-so-young… (and, I urge you to be mindful of racial diversity, too)

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