And so I long for a time and a world where women's gifts are valued and used and when women aren't blamed for abuse (or seen primarily as victims or sinners). Yet, as much as Advent is about longing for the world to be better, Christmas is about remembering how with Christ's coming the world is already better (and one day Christ will come back and everything will be fully right).
The longing is articulated well in recent articles that I read: Longing for All things to be made right and Rahab the Survivor.
Heather Walker Peterson in Longing for All Things highlights how through their Jesse tree, she is seeing the ancestors of Jesus in a new light. She is reminded of how Abram lies "to the Egyptian pharaoh about his wife Sarai being his sister. He was protecting his own skin but not the skin of Sarai, who was a hair’s breadth away from sexual relations with the Pharaoh. Our daughters, seven and nine, although not in complete understanding, are offended. And so am I. How had I lost the grievousness of Abram’s sin in my familiarity with the story?" In reading the story of Ruth and Boaz, she hears again "Boaz telling his male workers to keep their hands off Ruth while she was picking up the leftover grain. I’m glad for Boaz’s integrity, but I wish that the people of God who worked for him didn’t have to be told. Things are not all right."
Jennifer Lucking, in Rahab the Survivor, highlights the strength found in this ancestor of Jesus, while lamenting that her strength and desire to follow God faithfully are often left out when we talk about her:
Most of the Advent stories I’ve read about Rahab go something like this: “Rahab was a prostitute! Rahab was a liar! A harlot! But even someone as shameful and bad as Rahab is in Jesus’s lineage.”And I understand this type of storytelling: we are meant to recognize that despite our own sinfulness, despite the wrongs we do, we are redeemable and we are loved by God. Other articles I read about the women listed in the lineage of Jesus included words like sordid and notorious.. . Today I am choosing to see the resilience of Rahab the Survivor. She was proactive and went to the spies with a plan (see Joshua 2:8, 15-16). Rahab was confident and bold as she proclaimed what she knew (Joshua 2:9-11). She advocated not just for herself, but for her family (Joshua 2:12-13). She was faithful to what God was doing in her life. She is Rahab the strong. Rahab the leader.As much as the articles point to a longing for the world to be better, they also remind me that through Christ women have been seen and given voices. And we, as Christians, have the ability to use the power of our words to tell a different story: a story that highlights that Jesus comes from a line of women of strength and perseverance who dared to risk everything for God and who cared deeply about justice.