Wise men, and wise women?

visitofmagiThe Christian holiday of Epiphany was this Friday.  If you’d like to read a good devotional on Ephiphany, check out Seven Lessons from the Magi (unless you are in my small group, in which case, wait until tomorrow night:).

Wise Women

Many ministers have prepared a sermon for tomorrow on the Visit of the Magi.  I got a chuckle reading an online conversation about it this morning.

“Could any of the wise men have been wise women? Why or why not?” wrote one minister.

Another chimed in about the Greek language used in the Gospel of Matthew and whether it could have been a gender neutral plural (as in “they”).

Another questioned whether it would have been culturally possible for women to have been in the “wise-mix” coming to discover the Christ-child.

Finally, another colleague put the question to rest: “The fact that they stopped and asked directions is highly indicative that at least one of them was female.”

I got a chuckle, but it did get me thinking.  Now, I do not know if any of these “wise people” were women.  But, there were almost certainly women at the side of the Virgin Mary around the time of the birth of Jesus.   Women naturally accompany other women during pregnancy and childbirth.  Three of my children were born in France where midwives are literally called sage femme, or wise woman.

They are called “sage“or wise, because they know what to do when birth comes.

We see wise women all throughout the story of God…  discerning God’s work (Esther), leading God’s people (Deborah), giving witness to Jesus (the Woman at the Well) and giving birth to the Church (Lydia).  The God “man” Jesus had to travel into this human world by a wise woman, the theotokos, or the “God-bearer” (a Latin term ratified by 431, around the time when a Latin translation was being produced for the Roman world).

Knowing and bearing

Knowing God and bearing God. I’ve been meditating on that quite a bit.  feeling a renewed call and purpose for bearing Christ’s light in 2017.  Christ’s light has come into us.  We are pregnant with it!  As a pastor, I hope to be a good midwife!  To help others know what to do when Christ’s light comes to them, to help there bear Christ’s light to their family, friends, and neighbors.

Here is a wonderful poem, by Jan Richardson which you can also find on her blog at http://paintedprayerbook.com/2008/12/30/inviting-epiphany/.  It really paints a great feminine picture of the nativity scene in Matthew 2:1-12.  Happy Epiphany and 20CMB17!

Wise Women Also Came
by Jan Richardson

Wise women also came.
The fire burned
in their wombs
long before they saw
the flaming star
in the sky.
They walked in shadows,
trusting the path
would open
under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permission
from any king.
They came
by their own authority,
their own desire,
their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparking no fears
to lead
to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s
inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came,
and they brought
useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing,
fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in the labor,
crying out with her
in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings
into her ear.

Wise women also came,
and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way.

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