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Elizabeth Glass Turner ~ A Woman’s Voice Can Usher in the Kingdom of God

Today my first-person perspective of Resurrection Day sits over at this website in honor of the traditional myrrh-bearers – the women who went to care for Jesus’ body at the tomb, later running and announcing the resurrection to the rest of the disciples. (Yes, Protestants – after Greek Orthodox Pascha [Easter], the tradition observes the Feast of the Holy Myrrhbearers; have we forgotten how to remember female saints?).

In Zimbabwe, traditionally women preach the Easter sermon, because it was women who were the first witnesses to the resurrection.

A woman’s voice can usher in the Kingdom of God.

I don’t know what lullabies Mary sang to her infant, who, contrary to “Away in a Manger,” would’ve wailed and screamed like any other baby because that’s what Fully Humans do. I do know some other words Mary spoke right before Jesus’ first miracle. “Whatever he tells you to do, do it.”

A woman’s voice can usher in the Kingdom of God.

Women’s History Month is punctuated by International Women’s Day; the internet floats retrospectives up to the surface, and we see photos of ceiling-shatterers, of sisters and mamas captured in time because they happened to be in a certain place on a certain day. I’m young enough to be surprised at the outcry caused simply by a woman running in a marathon. I’m old enough to feel impatient that progress in certain areas seems to have stalled in my lifetime. I’m aware enough to know how much things have changed in the past 100 years.

Women got the vote. Women welded and riveted. Women got labor-saving devices. Women burned bras. Women embraced careers. Women got the power to sue harassers. Women rediscovered value in parenting, knitting, gardening. Women took selfies.

Obviously there were some ups and downs.

This March is a bit different for me. This March, instead of reflecting on Earharts and Bhuttos and Roosevelts, I keep hearing the voices that echo from far away; voices that are muted; voices cut off.

I think about the women who lost toddlers to a vicious ruler bent on destroying a baby who drew wise men from the Far East – Herod’s slaughter of the innocents.

I think about a woman in a rural Chinese village, unable to pay a fine for a second child, losing a baby to a government-forced abortion against her will. She can’t even blog about it.

I think about about Felicity and Perpetua, saints, women who were martyred in the early church the nameless women like them who died for their faith.

I think about Assyrian Christian women kidnapped by ISIS in Syria.

I think about a story in the book of Genesis about the rape of Dinah – read here – and I think about young women fighting for dignity and healing from sexual assault and trafficking through organizations like Project Unbreakable and the International Justice Mission.

A woman’s voice can usher in the Kingdom of God – whether or not we hear it. How many women have gone unheard?

Ultimately, all the voices are heard: they hold up the rafters of the universe in prayer, they proclaim the Risen Christ and worship joyfully, they whisper hope and comfort with Messiah-smiles to the dying and the ones dead inside.

Ultimately, all the voices are heard: the voices weeping for their babies, screaming in loss, yelling in protest, whispering in despair. They are heard, like Martha and Mary’s voices were heard by a heartbroken Messiah – “if you had been here…”

You know what followed.

“Jesus wept.”

Dear sisters – we hear you. Across the centuries – we hear you. When no historian wrote your part of the human tale – we hear you. From the other side of the world – we hear you.

Founder of the Methodist movement John Wesley’s last letter was written about the urgent need to end slavery. He wrote it to famous abolitionist William Wilberforce. Wilberforce was someone who could hear silenced voices.

A woman’s voice can usher in the Kingdom of God.

Lord, in your mercy, show us how to hold the megaphone.

Lord, in your mercy, show us how to set caged voices free.