Feast of Sts. Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe, Holy Women (January 29)   12 comments

Above: Healing of the Cripple and Raising of Tabitha, by Masolino da Panicale, 1425

Image in the Public Domain

Giving Women Their Due

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The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Acts 15:11-15 or Acts 9:36-42

Psalm 112:1-9 or Psalm 23

John 10:1-10

The Collect:

Almighty God, who inspired your servants Lydia, Dorcas, and Phoebe to uphold and sustain your Church by their loving and generous deeds: Give us the will to love you, open our hearts to hear you, and strengthen our hands to serve you in others for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The Pauline attitude toward the proper role of women in the Church is a subject of frequent misunderstanding and distortion.  The much-quoted restrictions against female ministers is actually specific to certain kinds of women and is grounded in culture, time, and space.  It is not a universal principle.

And the Apostle Paul worked with women in his ministry, affirming their ministerial worth.  I think of Prisca, a.k.a. Priscilla.  Unfortunately, misogyny has become a tradition within certain forms of Christianity, so the value of women continues to be discounted.

Yet Biblical stories contradict this tradition.

Dorcas, a.k.a. Tabitha, appears in Acts 9:36-42.  A resident of Joppa, on the Mediterranean coast, and leader in her church, she devoted herself to helping widows.  Acts tells how after Dorcas/Tabitha died, St. Peter restored her to life.

Phoebe was a deacon or deaconess at the Church in Chenchreae, near Corinth, Greece.  At some point she moved to Rome and joined that church, to which St. Paul commended her.

According to Acts 16:11-15 Lydia was a Gentile sympathetic to Judaism.  A resident of Thyatira, she earned a good living as a seller of purple cloth, a luxury item.  Converted to Christianity by St. Paul, she invited the Apostle and St. Silas to stay in her house.  They accepted the invitation.  Shortly thereafter, Sts. Paul and Silas were in prison on trumped-up charges until an earthquake occurred and they converted the jailer and baptized his family.  Then Sts. Paul and Silas returned to Lydia’s home for a brief visit.

Women were often the most faithful people who assisted Jesus and St. Paul.  They functioned as deacons/deaconesses, financiers of ministry, Christian leaders, and doers of good deeds.  Women are just as good as men.  And for denominations and congregations to deny women equal access to all levels of Holy Orders is a sin and a denial of male-female equality through the Holy Spirit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 15, 2010

THE FEAST OF EVELYN UNDERHILL, ANGLICAN MYSTIC

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Posted June 15, 2010 by neatnik2009 in January, Saints of 29-199 C.E.

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