Sunday 8 August 2021, Women’s Day Celebration. Sermon: Linda Zama.

Sermon by Linda Zama   (Matthew 26:6-12)

  1. Introduction

Let us pray, Loving God, here we are this morning. May we experience gratitude and a spirit of togetherness in sharing your Word. May it speak to us. Amen

Is it not worth celebrating that through grace we are meeting this morning? Let us give thanks for this opportunity.  To the MU and AWF thank you for affording me the opportunity to share what hopefully may renew our spirit and give hints or clues of who we are in human history.

Some of us heard or read about the 20,000 women who marched to Pretoria protesting against Pass Laws. Somehow, these were narrations of things that happened long ago.

Today, we face other challenges. Currently, we live during a pandemic that is decimating lives all over the world. Actually, what we have known to be normal has been turned upside down. What we knew to be a conventional way of worshipping is no longer the only way. However, life goes on. We have been led to find new ways of living in the new world order. This is unsettling and we need to find new ways of coping with life.

From the reading we have just met brave Mary in the 1st Century. She lived during Jesus’s time. Jesus lived during a rigid and highly regulated environment. Right at the top of the religious hierarchy were priests. However, Jesus comes with a new message; a new narrative that was unsettling to his community. The irony is that after Jesus, Mary’s son, was baptized, in Matthew 3:17 we are told ‘then a voice from heaven said: ’This is my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with him.

I have no doubt that the same voice that spoke to Jesus says to you and me today’ This is my daughter, whom I love.  All of us regardless of race and social standing are the beloved sons and daughters.

Because we do not hear much about Jesus’ father, we can conclude that he did not feature much in Jesus’ life. This is not uncommon. You will remember that at the Cross, Jesus says ‘Woman behold your son.’ This is tender love of a son for his mother who had nurtured him to be the Jesus we know. During Jesus’ difficult hour, his mother and close relatives  witness and experience the pain and horror of crucifixion.

From the reading, on his way to Jerusalem, we meet Jesus having dinner at Simon’s house where Mary, not his mother, anoints him with expensive oil much to the annoyance of the disciples who consider it a waste. Mary pours out her love for Jesus. Her heart knows who Jesus is and what is to become of him but the disciples don’t know. In Jewish tradition, an anointing was sacred. It was meant to sanctify or set apart It was for priests, and kings; a token of hospitality and honour.  Mary’s heart knows what is not revealed to the disciples who were all male. Characteristic of Jesus, he says…’ I assure you that whenever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.’ The radical Jesus elevates and immortalises Mary.

In our country, what the 20,000 women did in 1956 is told in their memory. It is history of women of courage. Across racial divide, social standing and geographic location the women took up issues of the day and marched to Pretoria to demand justice. Maybe the 20,000 women who took up cudgels for the right to move freely in our country challenge us to stand up and  be change agents not agents of submission and fear. What about us at St Pauls and beyond? What is our response to current challenges? Poor education, racial divisions, corruption, violence, teenage pregnancy, joblessness, dysfunctional families, gender-based violence etc?

On gender- based violence we need to pause and pose questions even if they make us uncomfortable. Who bring up or nurture children who grow up to be violent and abusive?  What goes to the root of this violence instead of only issuing statements and engaging in symbolic gestures ? What do we do? These are some of the issues that confront us.

  1. Conclusion

Lest we forget, in 1956 20,000  women from all walks of life organised themselves to play a constructive role in our country. In 2021, we are challenged in doing our bit; no matter how small; We need to participate in healing a wounded society.  Where do we begin? The answer lies with you and me.

May this message find space in our hearts and minds

 

During this difficult time of the global pandemic, you are invited to make a contribution to the ministry and mission of our church by making a donation to the following account:  Account Name: St Paul’s Church  Account Number: 50854628623  Bank: First National Bank (FNB)  Branch Code: 221426