A Testament to a Human Contribution

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith
21 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed instantly. – Matthew 15: 21 -28 NRSV


Today New York Times published fifteen obituaries of women that have been overlooked by the NY Times editors, and history, since 1851.  Amisha Padnani and Jessica Bennet, NY Times writers, wrote, “The vast majority [of obituaries] chronicled the lives of men, mostly white ones; even in the last two years, just over one in five of our subjects were female.”

“Obituary writing is more about life than death: the last word, a testament to a human contribution”

A testament to a human contribution.

A testament to something means to prove or show clearly that something exists or is true. The #MeToo movement, in a way, is a testament to the brokenness of our culture to respond to the injustice of victims of harassment, abuse and sexual violence.

#MeToo has encouraged thousands of stores about abuse and harassment to come forth into our public discourse. Many have found the stories to be empowering, freeing and long needed. Others find these public conversations to be uncomfortable, distressing and unsettling.  When people are unsettled they lean to marginalizing, minimizing and criticizing the stories and people who make them feel uncomfortable.

Even Jesus and the disciples were unsettled by the Canaanite woman crying for help for her daughter in a public space. The disciples complained that she was bothering them. Jesus may have been annoyed but he listened.

Jesus listened to the woman who wanted her daughter to be healed. Jesus listened to the woman who has hemorrhaging. He listened to the woman at the well.

Jesus listened. Jesus responded. Women were healed and freed from what kept them captive.

We maybe uncomfortable with the #MeToo stories.  Yet we need to live in that uncomfortableness, that place of uncertainty and unsettledness and listen to the stories. They are not easy, at times, to hear. Nor are they easy stories to tell.

The March Presbytery meeting theme, What Breaks God’s Heart: #MeToo, will include the telling of four stories (three women and a man) with a time for conversation after each story. The anticipated outcome is for each of us to have an understanding of what the movement is about and ways we, individuals and congregations, can take steps for all people to be safe, welcomed and heard.

The stories, because of their personnel nature, will not be recorded. I invite you to come to this important time of story telling and conversation for all of us.