I represent the Salvation Army on a Multi-Faith Council that addresses the issue of poverty in Ontario. Last week we met together, and it happened to be on international women’s day. The devotional before our meeting was being led by one of our members, a Jewish rabbi, who was fasting that day due to a religious observance.
He shared with us why many Jewish people were fasting at that time. The reason was very much related to international women’s day. A long time ago, a man named Haman hated the Jews so much, especially a guy called Mordecai, that he convinced the king to essentially commit genocide by killing all Jewish people.
This crisis was averted not by an army, not even by a powerful leader, but by a woman named Esther.
At first she asked the Jewish people to fast and pray, and then at great risk to her own personal safety, she convinced the king to change his mind and stop the genocide. Thousands of lives were saved. So many Jewish people still fast to this day in memory of what Esther, a woman viewed as less than a man based solely on her gender, managed to pull off so long ago.
One of the reasons why we chose justice and reconciliation as our March Missional Theme was because of international women’s day.
Until women and men get treated as equals, this will remain a justice issue.
I saw a stat last week that said there are as many people named ‘John’ that are CEOs of companies as there are women CEOs. That’s just one of many indicators to demonstrate that women and men are still a long ways away from being treated as equals. As I mentioned earlier, while this is not a new issue, there is still much work to do.
But even in the midst of injustice, as in Esther’s case, women throughout history have stood tall and made major social and political change against all odds.
I for one am very thankful to be part of an organization that lists, as one of its cofounders, a woman.
Back in 1865, Catherine Booth stood tall and helped to create the Salvation Army, a church that has changed the world. All these years later, here in Toronto the Salvation Army is being led both territorially and divisionally by women because they are best qualified to lead us at this time.
And here at Toronto Housing & Homeless Supports, we have women and men in very prominent leadership positions based on their skill sets and not their gender.
Having said all of that, there is still a long way to go for justice and reconciliation. Until there is equality for everyone, we will continue to strive to be the hand of God in the heart of the city.
Women are a reflection of the glory of God. On international women’s day we honor the women of all times and all places:
Women of courage.
Women of hope.
Women living fully.
Women experiencing joy.
Women delighting in life.
Women knowing the interconnectedness of the human family.
Women honoring the sacredness of the relational, the affective.
Women quietly tending the garden of human flourishing.
Women boldly leading the transformation of unjust global structures.
Women seeking Wisdom.
Women sharing Wisdom.
Women receiving Love.
Women giving Love.
Women: the image of God.
Loving God, we celebrate your faithfulness and love. On this day we commit ourselves to the promotion of the full humanity of all women everywhere. We know that whatever denies, diminishes, or distorts the full humanity of women is not of God.
Help us to be faithful to your call to love.