International Women’s Day prayer rite

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25 Feb 2020

Hymns, readings, reflection and prayers of intercession for International Women’s Day on 8 March.

HYMNS: Gather Us In, Marty Haugen; God has Chosen Me, Bernadette Farrell; I’ll Be Always Loving You, Trisha Watts; Our Blessing Cup, Bob Hurd.

READINGS: Isaiah 43:1-2, 4a; My mouth is filled with your praise – Psalm 71; Galatians 3:23-29; John 20:11-18.

REFLECTION

There’s a two-picture cartoon which demonstrates the difference between equity and equality. Two people reach for biscuits on a shelf – both need a stool for extra height. The shelf the biscuit tin is on is the same height and they both use the same-height stool (equality). However, one is a woman, the other a girl. Consequently, there is a significant height difference and the girl’s reach falls short. In the second picture the girl’s stool is much higher and the two are now of equal height.

Equality is treating everyone the same (picture one) but equity means everyone gets what they need to be successful (picture two). Of course, if you just consider the two stools it appears the taller stool confers an advantage. Often equity can appear unfair, but it brings everyone to the same starting place.

This month the campaign theme for International Women’s Day (8 March) is #EachforEqual – a world where we can choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions and celebrate women’s achievements.

Every day of his ministry Jesus challenged stereotypes. He condemned hypocrisy (Matt 23:13-16); ate with outcasts (Zacchaeus the tax collector – Luke 19:1-10), and worked to make the lives of marginalised people better (every time he heals the sick). He treated people equally but even more, considering the time and culture, he showed an inclination toward equity. He made time for children, blessing them when the disciples would have kept them away (Matt 19:13-15). He listened to the women in his life, sometimes taking on tasks that he would rather not have done (Wedding at Cana, John

2:1-6). He raises Lazarus from the dead when Martha shows faith in him (John 11:17-27). 

His interactions with women also show a deep understanding of their lives. Most know the story of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus’ rebuke that those who are without sin should cast the first stone (John 8:1-12) but the story of the bleeding woman (Luke 8:43-48) is just as impressive because it shows an understanding of the woman’s life and how isolated she must have been because of her sickness. She was desperate, but her faith was rewarded.

PRAYERS:

Creator God: You made us all in your image, male and female. Let us remember to celebrate each other’s unique gifts. Lord, hear us.

Father God: We are your daughters and sons, neither slaves nor free. We are all one in Christ Jesus. Help us to be heirs to your promise. Lord, hear us.

Christ our light: Show us the way as we work for equity among races, creeds and gender. Lord, hear us.

Jesus, friend of marginalised peoples everywhere: We pray for all those whose family life are torn apart by violence and economic hardship. Lord, hear us.

Holy Spirit: We pray for all those whose lives are hampered by sickness and ill health. We ask you to heal them. Lord, hear us.

Spirit of joy: Visit our families and imbue them with your love and strength. Lord, hear us.

This article first appeared in Madonna magazine Autumn 2020 edition.

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