2017 womens history month - Women's History Month

March 2017

I recently saw the award-winning film “Hidden Figures”, which tells the story of three African-American women mathematicians and engineers in the early Space Age. Before digital computers were available to NASA, these women were responsible for calculating orbital flight paths, including the precise moment at which astronauts had to begin re-entry in order to land at the designated ocean pick-up sites. Their tools, and those of a separate team of white women, were desktop mechanical calculating machines, paper, and pencil.

As the closing credits rolled, I began to weep. I cried all the way through those credits. As a little girl, I had watched all the take-offs and landings on TV. I heard praise for the brave men who flew, and I saw the control rooms full of men. I had no idea that women had worked to help make it possible. I wondered how my life would have been different if I had known about them. How would my adult life as an aerospace engineer been changed, if I had known that women were behind the scenes all along?

History is written by the winners, yet all people are part of history. That’s why MCC is proud to observe Women’s History Month throughout March and International Women’s Day (8 March 2017). We raise up the stories of those who were too often “hidden” – whether it is because their stories were deliberately erased, like the apostle Junia of Romans 16:7, or whether, like Katherine Johnson and her NASA colleagues, simply lost as history focused on the men who were more visible.

May the Holy One fill us with Her wisdom as we remember those women who have gone before us!

Rev. Dr. Joan Saniuk
MCC Women’s Working Group

Click here for some liturgical resources that could be used during Women’s History Month, on International Women’s Day, or at any time throughout the year.

Liturgical Resources to Honor Women

Based upon the creative work of Dianne L. Neu, co-founder and co-director of WATER, the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual www.waterwomensalliance.org

Songs

“Holy Ground”

This is Holy Ground.
We’re standing on Holy Ground.
For Wisdom is present,
And where She is, it’s holy.

This is Holy Ground.
We’re standing on Holy Ground.
For Wisdom is present,
And where She is, it’s holy.

We are Holy Ground.
Yes, we are Holy Ground.
For Wisdom is present,
And where She is, it’s holy.

We are Holy Ground.
Yes, we are Holy Ground.
For Wisdom is present,
And where She is, it’s holy.

“Blessing Song” by M.T. Winter, from Woman Prayer, Woman Song.

May the blessing of God go before you
May Her grace and peace abound.
May Her Spirit live within you.
May Her love wrap you ‘round.
May Her blessing remain with you always.
May you walk on holy ground.

Calls to Gather/Worship

Call 1

In this season, we gather to give thanks to wise women. (Name your focus; for example, we honor you N. for your dedicated work for women’s justice). In particular, we want to give thanks for the wisdom of women in this community.

We gather to thank you for your gracious presence. We honor your blood, sweat, and persistence which have helped to shape this community of justice-seekers. We call you into the ranks of Wise Women, and we bless you for the future.

Please say after me:
Divine Wisdom, / in you we live and move / and have our being./

Loving Divine Wisdom Sophia, we ask that you bless all Wise Women today. Draw near and enfold us in your loving embrace as we continue to share your love, creativity, and wisdom as leaven in the world.

Please say after me:
Divine Wisdom, / in you we live and move / and have our being./

And so it is. / And so it is.

Call 2

Divine Creator of the Universe, Welcome!
Wisdom Sophia, Welcome!
She Who Is and Will Always Be, Welcome!

Please say after me:
Divine Wisdom / in you we live and move / and have our being.

READINGS FROM THE BOOK OF WISDOM (Could also be used for Call to Gather/Worship)

One: Wisdom has built herself a house; she has prepared her food, mixed her wine and set her table… She calls to all in the cities and in the town… Come and eat my food and drink the wine I have made. (Proverbs 9:1-5)

Response: You are wisdom, Holy Wisdom; Holy Wisdom you are.

One: Who can find a valiant woman? She is far more precious than jewels. Give her a share in what her hands have made. Let her works tell her praises. (Proverbs 31:10)

Response: You are wisdom, Holy Wisdom; Holy Wisdom you are.

One: Wisdom calls aloud in the streets…I will pour out my heart to you…tune your ear to wisdom and your heart to truth…then you will understand who God is and discover

love of life…then you will understand justice and the ways of happiness. (Proverbs 1:20, 2:1,6)

Response: You are wisdom, Holy Wisdom; Holy Wisdom you are.

One: Wisdom is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come…Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all. (Proverbs 31:25, 29)

Response: You are wisdom, Holy Wisdom; Holy Wisdom you are.

CONTEMPORARY READINGS

My grandmother’s Christ was one she could talk to about the daily struggles of being poor, Black, and female…
But most importantly, it is in the face of my grandmother, as she struggled to sustain herself and her family, that I truly see Christ.”

–Kelly Brown Douglas

“Guided by wisdom categories, the story of the cross, rejected as passive, penal victimization, is re-appropriated as heartbreaking empowerment. The suffering accompanying such a life as Jesus led – is neither passive, useless, nor divinely ordained, but is linked to the ways of Sophia forging justice and peace in an antagonistic world. As such, the cross is part of the larger mystery of pain-to-life, of that struggle for the new creation evocative of the rhythm of pregnancy, delivery, and birth so familiar to women of all times.” Nicola Slee, Faith and Feminism: An Introduction to Christian Feminist Theology (London:Darton, Longman & Todd, 2003)

A LITANY OF WISE WOMEN/GREETING OF PEACE

Holy One of life, Source of Wisdom, we give thanks for the rich history of women from whose lives we now reap our own liberating hope. Their re-imaginings allow us to dream dreams with wisdom.

Filled with this Wisdom, let us embrace one another as wise women do.

BLESSING THE BREAD

Blessed are you, Sustenance of All Life.
We give you thanks for the bread we
take, bless, break, and eat. It comes from
the fruits of our labors, symbol of the
fullness and ripeness of life. We
thank you for the diversity and power of
women: women of all colors and shapes,
women from different countries who speak
a variety of languages, women from
different spiritual backgrounds, different
schools, different families, all beautiful
women with abundant gifts.

Let us bless this bread remembering
women who bake bread, breastfeed
children, prepare meals, and feed hungry
souls. Let us speak their names. (Sharing).

BLESSING THE DRINK

(The person with the drink raises the glass and prays:)

Blessed are you, Lover of All. We thank
you for the lemonade we toast with and
share. It comes from the fruits of summer, a
symbol of the joy of every season. We thank
you for the passion of women we have
known: young and older women, female children
and adolescents, transwomen who celebrate all that
yearns for completion.

Let us bless this drink by remembering
our friends, daughters, nieces, teachers,
and students, who share their passion for
life with the world. Let us speak their
names. (Sharing).

BLESSING ONE ANOTHER

Let us put our arms around one another as we pray:

Blessed are you, Mother of All. We
thank you for our selves, the greatest gifts
we share with one another. We are the
symbols of your warmth, caring, power,
and wisdom.

We thank you for all the people who
have touched our lives and revealed you
to us: those who listen to us, who hear us,
who counsel us, who heal us, people whose
concern and support call us to an abundant
harvest.

Let us bless one another by remembering
friends who see visions of what can be and
share that with us: seers, activists, creative
spirits. Let us speak their names (Sharing)

Communion

Now let us share this food and drink,
remembering the blessings that we receive, we are, and we share.