In honoring women worldwide, we know much work remains
The world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 – a day dedicated to celebrating women’s achievements throughout history and across nations.
My abuelita (grandmother) was a powerful force in her family. As an older sister living in the country of Colombia, she was the caretaker of her six youngest siblings. As a result, she never went to school. A neighbor taught her how to read and write. Afterward, she became an avid reader, claiming to having read the Bible from cover to cover three times.
When my abuelita became a mother, her vision for her three daughters included support in achieving higher education. My mother was the first person in her family to attend college.
It has been said that women have the greatest potential to bring about lasting change in their communities. But, around the world, women have not been afforded the same access to education by the social and political structures of their home churches and countries.
In scripture, we find stories of faithful women whose witness has been an example throughout the ages.
The book of Ruth tells the story of King David’s grandmother. Naomi goes with her family to the enemy country of Moab because there is famine in Israel. Her sons marry Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Naomi’s husband and sons die. She returns home to Bethlehem.
Ruth, who pledges her loyalty to Naomi and to the God of Israel, returns with her. There is a famine in the region. While working in the fields, Ruth meets Boaz, Naomi’s relative.
Even though Ruth comes from an enemy people, Boaz realizes that she is loyal and worthy. He marries her to preserve the line of Naomi’s family. The whole nation is blessed because of the loyalty of this devoted widow, this good man and this foreign woman, Ruth.
Another faithful woman who gives witness to God’s work in her life and the lives of others is Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the words of Mary’s song, “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1: 49b-50 NRSV).
Then, Mary goes on to speak of God acting to bring about justice and mercy.
“He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things” (Luke 1:52-53NRSV).
Worldwide on March 8, we celebrated and honored the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women throughout history and across nations. But, as people of faith, we also realize there is still much work to be done to end violence against women, orphans and other vulnerable people worldwide.
Different communities of faith here at home and abroad gathered on this day to encourage and pray for one another, and to give thanks.
Arhiana Shek is a mission developer and pastor at Faith Lutheran Church, a Lutheran church serving Latinos of Snohomish County. The church is at 6708 Cady Road in Everett.