Gifts of Women Sunday: Divine Feminine

I thought I had posted this earlier but realized I hadn’t on Mother’s Day, which in some churches is a day in which you can talk about God using mother metaphors. At Third Church, we celebrate the Presbyterian Women service “Gifts of Women” in which we honor the women who have made significant contributions to our church. PW usually schedules this near working women’s day in March. This service was also an opportunity to remember why we (Third Church) has a PW by highlighting what our group has done and what the larger organization calls women to do.

I borrowed heavily from the PW website to make this service and tried use quotation marks or footnotes to indicate when the words were not my own as well as I could, but probably not perfectly. That may have been why I decided not to post it. It was also one of the last services we had gathered in our builidng so maybe I was distracted by all of what was changing to post it. Either way, here it is.

I borrowed the communion service from a conference I attended called “Gladdening Light” because this year’s focus was the Divine Feminine. It is a long script in order to accomplish our goals for the service (refraining PW purpose, explaining a little bit of the concept of Divine Feminine, and incorporating the current PW officers). I asked one of my favorite clock watchers how far over we went, he said, don’t worry it was worth every minute.

I love this picture. All of us laughing and I can’t remember why, but I remember starting this service with joy.

Welcome: Louise

Prelude

When the prelude ends walk to the lectern and offer the Welcome and announcements

Welcome & Announcements 

  • Welcome people using the name of the church, and introduce yourself
  • Mention that the nursery is available to help parents worshiping with infants or toddlers.
  • Invite everyone to attend the lunch following worship.
  • Health, safety, and well-being are important to our worshiping community.  We know that there are concerns about infection related to recent news about the corona virus.  We encourage each person to participate in a way that is comfortable for them.  That includes both the passing of the peace and taking bread and juice for communion.  If at any point it does not feel safe or prudent to participate you may opt out.  We know that it is not the elements that transmit God’s grace, but our common and concerted prayer inspired by the Holy Spirit that bring us into communion with God.  We will practice non-contact forms of passing of the peace today.  
  • All other announcements are printed in the bulletin (we have a lot of script to get through this morning, so we aren’t going to spend time reading the bulletin)

PW Purpose Statement:

Our goal as the PW of Third Church is for everything we do as an organization and as a community to be guided by our PW Purpose, and that includes ministry, resources and relationships.  

The purpose statement is this:

Forgiven and freed by God in Jesus Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we commit ourselves

  • to nurture our faith through prayer and Bible study,
  • to support the mission of the church worldwide,
  • to work for justice and peace, and
  • to build an inclusive, caring community of women that strengthens the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and witnesses to the promise of God’s kingdom.

Presbyterian Women are aligned under a shared Purpose, but the gifts of the Spirit allow us to live into the Purpose in our own, unique ways. Sometimes in our Third Church PW we find ourselves particularly drawn to one or two points of the Purpose. At other times our group or individuals consciously work toward fulfilling all points. There are many faithful ways to live out the PW Purpose! 

We hope that today’s worship service will help us to: remember and reflect on the PW purpose statement; honor our history; acknowledge that we are in a transitional time with PW now; and give us hope for what PW will become.

Gifts of Women:

On Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday, we honor women of faith, those who may have felt their faith falter at times and those who held fast to faith. We give thanks for their persistence—their witness, their words, their actions. We know we stand on their shoulders.

The National PW theme for this year is based on Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Or, in the words of Eugene Peterson in The Message, “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”[1]

Let us prepare ourselves to worship God.

Choral Introit

Marie After the choral introit read “nurture faith” wait until just before the call to worship to ask people to stand.

Nurture Faith

Nurturing our faith through prayer and Bible study” is the first point of our Purpose, and the reason for this priority is clear! As Presbyterian Women, we affirm the PC(USA)’s position that scripture is the written word of God, guiding and inspiring us, individually and collectively. Put another way, nurturing our faith is key to discerning how God through the Holy Spirit would like for us to be (and act) in this world.

Presbyterian Women is a community of believers; and together we study the same Bible study each year—the annual PW/Horizons Bible study!  The Third Church PW in the past has used this study in small groups.  Copies of these studies and of the Horizons magazine are available in the Third Church library.  There are many resources available on the Presbyterian Women website.  

In addition to these resources, Presbyterian Women nurtures faith by participating in ecumenical movements.  The two noted on the national website are “World Day of Prayer” and “Fellowship of the Least Coin”.  In recent years, the Third Church PW has not participated in these ecumenical services.  Discerning our opportunities for ecumenical and interfaith relationships in the East End of Pittsburgh is something we encourage each other to do as we think about the future for the Third Church PW. 

The national organization says that honoring women (or men!) who have been instrumental to your faith journey or the life of your church or PW group with an Honorary Life Membership is a way that we continue to lift up those who have nurtured faith and inspire others to do the same.  The Third Church PW has done that each year as part of our Gifts of Women Sunday.  We will honor an individual later in today’s service.

Say: Please stand for the call to worship.

Call to Worship 

Leader: O Lord, open my eyes,

People: so I might see the vision of your truth. 

Leader: O Lord, open my ears,

People: and I will hear your word. 

Leader: O Lord, open my lips,

People: and my mouth shall proclaim your praise. [2]

Hymn: Be Thou My Vision #339

Call to Confession[3] Karie

To you, O God, we give up the burdens of this week, trusting your love and mercy.  To you, O God, we surrender ourselves, trusting our risen Lord to lead us always in the way of peace, today, tomorrow and forever.  Please join me in reading the prayer of confession printed in your bulletin.  Let us pray together.

Prayer of Confession (unison) 

O God, we confess that we often look back. We look back on mistakes we have made, work left undone, people we have hurt, and excuses we have made.  We see these as things for which we feel guilty. We overwhelm ourselves with regret.  Free us, O God, from self-condemnation that immobilizes us.  Allow us to remember that you call us to look back, to remember those times of joy, to remember those people who were kind and compassionate, to remember that we did the best we were able to do, to remember that in Christ our past is transformed, to remember that you journey with us each day of our life. May we continue to grow in grace and truth. 

Assurance of Pardon

Response Gloria Patri

Passing of the Peace

Demonstrate non-contact ways of passing the peace.

Anthem

Time with Children MaryLouise

Offering Karie

Part of the history of how the PCUSA churches handle money includes a time when women were not allowed to serve on boards or have a voice in how the church finances were invested or spent.  The lack of women in the place decisions were made lead to underfunding of organizations that serve women and children.  The women of the church gathered and raised their own resources to support mission and social justice.  Today, women have roles in the church boards and have voice and vote in all matters including our financial ones.  Our Third Church PW still maintains their own accounts that allow them to support missions that are near and dear to their hearts.

Support Mission (Karie while Karie is talking Lois and the choir move into position)

Lois: For more than 200 years, Presbyterian women have demonstrated a commitment to serve the mission of the church in special, caring ways. From our early beginnings as missionary societies to our work with hospitals and schools, our caring has been tangible. What does it mean to support the mission of the church worldwide? For Presbyterian Women, it means that we respond to God’s love for us by offering our many gifts to ensure wholeness for all. Standing alongside the PCUSA and our ecumenical partners, we bring Christ’s love to the world.  There are many opportunities to participate with the national and presbytery level PW in mission.  Any Presbyterian Woman (or man) can choose to participate as in individual giving time talent and treasure to the missions they choose through the national PW website. 

The most admirable attribute of our Third Church PW is their support for mission partners.  Throughout the years they have supported a variety of organizations including: Alpha House, Families Outside, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Operation Safety Net, Orr Compassionate Care, Hosanna Industries, Achieva, Mars Home for Youth, Medical Benevolence Foundation, Synod Mission Project, East Liberty Family Health Care Center, Healthy Start Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg Community Ministry, and Treasure House Fashions.  Third Church PW also supports Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community and sponsors scholarships at Maryville College and Walters State Community College.   

Perhaps the organization Third Church associates with its PW the most is the Days for Girls program.  It was supposed to be a one-time “hands on” mission project that has taken on a life of its own.  With support from the Third Church PW and Mission Committee this program has welcomed members of our local community from two half-way houses and a group of adults with special needs; remains a safe place for Literacy Pittsburgh Students to practice their English; and grown to include local college students.  

Recently, the Pittsburgh Chapter of Days for Girls moved into what was once the ladies’ lounge.  This move allowed us to accommodate more groups and shorten the set up and clean up times for our volunteers which in turn allowed Karie to spend more time connecting with community groups and less time organizing the sewing and assembly stations.  

Last week, Karie hosted what we hope is the first of many opportunities for college students to gather and talk about women’s health and faith.  On March 18th we will have an opportunity to meet with the Days for Girls Volunteers and learn more about our partnership with Global Links.  

Work for Peace and Justice (Lois will read this part so when she is back in place the choir can start)

We are called to share God’s love with the world, by being God’s hands in the world. We answer God’s call to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

Presbyterian Women in the Congregation, Presbytery and Synod groups respond to local or regional justice and peace needs. Our work can be action, advocacy or awareness-building—or a mixture depending on the gifts of our groups. In addition to local and regional emphases, Presbyterian Women Churchwide suggests addressing the injustices of: Mass incarcerationPovertyRacism, Human trafficking, Violence And promoting Quality education, Informed advocacy through The United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)and Ecumenical Advocacy Days (EAD).  PW groups focus their justice work around substance use disorder (SUD), using suggested actions or prayers or around eco-justice, using a flier of awareness-raising points and suggested actions.  The national PW website includes “The Justice and Peace Calendar” as well as other ways groups or individuals can participate in actions days and learn more about how Presbyterian Women supports the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s work in the areas of advocacy and social justice, education, hunger and poverty, immigration, gender and racial justice and environmental ministries.

Offertory Anthem

Response

Prayer of Dedication Karie

Merciful God, your gift of love, immense and free, finds us out, makes a claim on our lives that we can not ignore: Teach us to respond in thanksgiving, seeking, as did your Son, the poor and the outcast, giving all that we have, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.[4]

Prayer of the Day Louise

“The Middle Time”[5] Is a prayer for women in transition.  

Let us pray.

Between the exhilaration of Beginning . . . And the satisfaction of Concluding,
Is the Middle-Time of Enduring…Changing…Trying… Despairing . . . Continuing . . . Becoming. 

Jesus Christ was the One of God’s Middle-Time between Creation and . . . accomplishment. Through him, God said of Creation, “Without Mistake.” And of Accomplishment, “Without Doubt.” 

And we, in our Middle-Times, of wondering and waiting, hurrying and hesitating, regretting . . . We who are becoming more . . . and less through the evidence of God’s Middle-Time have a stabilizing hint that we are not mistakes, that we are irreplaceable, that our being is of interest, and our doing is of purpose. That our being and our doing are surrounded by Amen. 

Jesus Christ is the Completer of unfinished people with unfinished work in unfinished times.  May he keep us from sinking, from ceasing, from wasting, from solidifying, that we may be for him— Experimenters, Enablers, Encouragers, and Associates in Accomplishments.

Scripture reading: Proverbs 4:5-13 Louise

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Get wisdom; get insight: do not forget, nor turn away
    from the words of my mouth.
Do not forsake her, and she will keep you;
    love her, and she will guard you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom,
    and whatever else you get, get insight.
Prize her highly, and she will exalt you;
    she will honor you if you embrace her.
She will place on your head a fair garland;
    she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

10 Hear, my child, and accept my words,
    that the years of your life may be many.
11 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
    I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
12 When you walk, your step will not be hampered;
    and if you run, you will not stumble.
13 Keep hold of instruction; do not let go;
    guard her, for she is your life.

Meditation: Divine Feminine  Karie

People in recovery groups rely on a “higher power” and sometimes, they assign this god a name and attributes.  A woman volunteering with our Days for Girls Pittsburgh Chapter, shared with me that her higher power was ‘the guy upstairs’ or Gus.  Over many conversations she shared some of her experiences with Gus.  I tried to be an active listener without passing judgement, but one afternoon I couldn’t hold my tongue.  I blurted out ‘Gus is a jerk’.  The shocked look on her face told me, that I, the only pastor she knows, called god (the one she thought I believed in too), a jerk.  There was silence.  And then, there was laughter; tension-relieving, belly-aching laughter.  I said, you need a better god, one that loves you.  Tears.  I can only describe what welled up in our eyes as the Holy Spirit filling us to overflowing.  Of course, a machine needed threaded, stitches needed to be ripped out, and the sewing project needed our attention.  We wiped our eyes and got back to work.  As the weeks went by, we came up with a new higher power, the lady in the basement, Lib.  She has attributes of both Mary and Martha, and she’s a little bit of a badass.  Lib bleeds, sweats, and cries.  She is strong and gentle.  She believes in supporting and empowering women, nurturing their faith and working together for social justice.  Most importantly, she is full of love.

I believe that God is love.  God is a mystery that we cannot begin to understand or describe.  I know that some might think creating and naming a higher power makes me a heretic, and it probably does.  But I see it as a way to work out new understandings of God.  Talking about Gus (the guy upstairs) and Lib (the lady in the basement), allows me to see God the way other people do and to help them see that there is more to God than I or they can imagine.  

I feel called (and hopefully all of us feel called) to continually look for new ways of understanding God in order to deepen our relationship with the divine.  I especially seek out ways that help us see a feminine side of God because our traditional church language does not provide enough of that for me (and maybe for some of you).  I’ve been reading feminist theology lately and looking for avenues to explore what it means to be a Christian and a feminist.  I think there are a lot of young women trying to do the same.  

Recently, I attended a Gladdening Light Conference.  Gladdening Light takes its inspiration from the lighting of candles with the oldest Christian hymn to begin vespers in the eastern tradition. In a symbolic way that light and dark converge, so do the sacred and the secular. God cannot be contained within liturgy or within the hallowed walls of a sacred structure—indeed, cannot be contained at all. 

This year’s conference theme was the Divine Feminine.  The idea being that God can not be contained within one gender (specifically the traditional language that almost exclusively uses male gender pronouns for God). 

One of the keynote speakers, Mirabai Starr, defines feminine in a way that may or may not conform to established theology.  For her, feminine means “an aggregate of qualities such as mercy, loving-kindness, wildness, inclusiveness, radical truth telling and tendencies such as nurturing, subversive, relational, community building, heart centered, honoring of embodied experience, comfortable with ambiguity”[6].   

Other keynote speakers including Rami Shapiro and Barbara Brown Taylor spoke about how they pray/connect with God and how looking outside of their own sanctuaries have helped them to shape a richer understanding the divine.  Their work in multi faith settings has led them to what Barbara Brown Taylor calls Holy Envy.  While each of them identifies as a certain religion, they have blended elements from other faiths into their prayer and worship practices.  

It was at the conference that I experienced worship that used primarily feminine attributes for God.  I will be borrowing parts of that worship service for our prayers and communion liturgy today.  I hope that as we celebrate the gifts of women in our congregation, we see that those gifts come from a God who is neither completely masculine nor feminine.  God is neither Gus nor Lib.  God is bigger than any box we make to put God in or any word that human language can use to describe God.  God is mystery that we experience not completely understanding the full nature of God.  

My hope is that we experience communion with God a little differently today as we address God in her feminine nature instead of the traditional masculine pronouns. My hope is that this experience will deepen our experience with God and shatter some old boxes we have been keeping our ideas of God in.  

Communion

Prayer Before Communion:

Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to make us aware of her presence today as we prepare to celebrate Holy Communion:

O Holy Spirit 

yours is the feminine face of the Holy,

the luminous moon who lights up the night

as we travel from captivity to liberation,

the pillar of fire who guides our way home,

the cloud hovering over the mountain peaks,

living sign that the drought is over.

You are the indwelling presence of the Divine.

Whenever we gather to praise the One

you are here in our midst.

When we cry out for justice

you make our hearts tender.

When we stand with those on the margins

you make our legs strong.

When we create works of art

and parent or children

and harvest our gardens

you guide and sustain us.

You are the Sabbath Bride, the Beloved,

returned from exile.

You restore balance in our relationships

and wholeness to our fragmented souls.

You infuse our lovemaking with honey.

You fill the cup of our hearts,

which tremble with longing,

with the wine of your answering love.

You are the song of our homecoming.

You are the Sabbath Queen, the Great Mother,

who sits at the heart of the table

tearing off hunks of the secret bread

that contains the exact flavor each of us loves best.

You feed us all,

the proud and the repentant,

the believer and the skeptic,

from your hands.

Your unconditional forgiveness dissolves otherness.

O Holy Spirit

we are the vessel for your inflowing.

Your radiance requires the clay of our embodiment.

Your flame burns at the core of the earth.

Your warmth penetrates the seedbed and animates

            the seedlings.

You bless the head of every animal

and kiss the tear-streaked face of humanity.

You are the vision that builds community,

and you are our refuge

when the fabric of community unravels.

Be with us now

as we navigate this landscape of mystery

where your most cherished attributes – 

wild mercy and boundless compassion,

righteousness and wisdom – 

seem to be cast aside and trampled 

by imperious world powers 

and we are paralyzed by helplessness.

Help us.

May we remember you and lift you up.

May we recognize your face and celebrate your beauty

in everything and everyone,

everywhere, always. [7]

Black Madonna, Your Lap Has Become the Holy Table

Dark Madonna, Mother of the World, 

Thank you for making a place for me at the table of the Holy One.

Yours is a feast to which everyone is invited.

In the circle of your generosity, we are safe.

You give me courage to face the darkness and embrace it,

knowing that in the depths of the night, inside the womb of the Spirit, 

the light of the world is rising, ready to break through.

Black virgin, you have become the tabernacle that cradles the Word of God.

You lift up the Eucharistic chalice in celebration.

You spread our ample lap and uncover a restorative banquet.

“Come,” you say – to me, and to all the world.

Your voice is warm milk, sweetened with wild honey.

“Eat, and be filled.”

[pause]

Let us lift our hearts to God. 

[pause]

It is right and our deep joy to give you all our gratitude, O God, because in love and with a creativity we cannot imagine you made the universe, and the planets, and our earth and seas and sky.  You created life, and us.

By your will they were created and have their being.

And you gave us free will, trusting that we would make mistakes and learn, trusting that we would do amazing things for you in the realm of the aesthetic and for others in the realm of compassion.

Glory to you for ever and ever.

And so with praise and gratitude in our hearts and on our lips, we join our voices in the song of the angels and saints – 

Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary and her sister Martha, and the other Mary[8], and all of the other Marys and biblical women. 

Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Ávila, Thérèse of Lisieux, and all of the women who unofficially part of the teaching body of the church.  

Clarissa Danforth, Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Anna Howard Shaw, Louisa Woosley, Margaret Towner, Addie Davis, Rachel Henderlite, Elizabeth Alvina Platz, Barbara Andrews, Janith Otte, Katie Cannon, and all the women called to ordained ministry.[9]  

Sue Morris, Marilyn Gilmore, Mary Brown, Peg Carpenter, Caroline Sutton, Rachel Bobo, Lee LaValley, Jean Maxwell and all of the PW moderators and recipients of the lifetime award.

…among many – who forever sing to you, as we say these words:

Holy, Holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. 

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.

Sanctus

You are blessed, O God, and Jesus is blessed, and the Holy Spirit is blessed.  We ask now that you send us your Spirit, that by your power, this ordinary table will become a sacred banquet, and this bread and cup will become holy things that we can share.

As we break bread together, as we drink from the cup, unite us as a people who are grateful for all we have and share in that abundance  Let us not be afraid of the future, but instead be aware of the divine indwelling, inviting us to be at ease about what is to come as we joyfully step into the unknown.

Risen Christ, be known to us in the breaking of the Bread.

On the night Jesus was betrayed he took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread and gave it to his friends, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you.  Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper, he took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Remembering now his work of redemption, and offering to you this sacrifice of thanksgiving, we are bold to pray[10]:

O Birther! Father-Mother of the Cosmos

Focus your light within us – make it useful:

Create your reign of unity now – 

Your one desire then acts with ours,

as in all light, so in all forms.

Grant what we need each day in bread and insight.

Loose the cords of mistakes binding us, 

as we release the strands we hold

of others’ guilt.

Don’t let surface things delude us,

But free us from what holds us back.

From you is born all ruling will, 

the power and the life to do,

the song that beautifies all,

from age to age it renews.

Truly – power to these statements – 

may they be the ground from which all

my actions grow:

Amen

These are the Gifts of God for the people of God.  Thanks be to God.

We will eat the bread as it is served, reminding us that Christ died for each of us.  We will hold the cup and wait to drink it together remember that we are united in Christ.  We also know that it is not the elements that hold the grace of God but our prayers with and through the work of the Holy Spirit that united us to each other and to God.

Elders come to front after juice is served John will go get Pat, Liz and kiddos.

Prayer After Communion:

Mother of God, you are the safe haven,

the secret room where the lovers of the Divine

gather to remember him, 

the oasis where the seekers find each other 

in the heart of the desert 

and exchange stories of longing and discovery. 

The fire of the Holy Spirit 

comes pouring into the open chamber of your mother-heart,

In your midst, all are welcome.

Through your voice, everything is understood.

Blessed Mother, 

may all faiths find sanctuary in you.  

May all paths flow like mountain streams 

into the river-valley of your love 

and praise the Holy One 

with a thousand voices.

Amen.

Communion unites us with God and with each other.  Communion with the divine inspires us to build community in our congregation and with our local and global communities.  Building community is a piece of the PW mission statement.  Marie will say more about that. 

Building Community Marie

As disciples of Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit, Presbyterian Women are committed to finding, nurturing and building community in our circles and cities and, truly, throughout the world!

Often, Presbyterian Women’s community building is rooted in mission or justice and peace work. Volunteering for Literacy Pittsburgh or assisting at The East End Cooperative Ministry to serve meals connects us with members of our community we may not otherwise have met. These loving, mutually beneficial interactions grow God’s Beloved Community, reminding us that regardless of how we are labeled or perceived, we are all, foremost, children of God.

At the national level, Presbyterian Women offers programming that intentionally builds community with sisters around the world. These programs offer the opportunity for mutual sharing, consideration and building up of one another!

At Third Church we are working to fuel a warm community by unconditionally welcoming all who enter our doors.  We understand that hospitality always includes welcoming the stranger.  Although for us, it is also about developing quality relationships with one another.  Over the last year, we have been practicing empathetic listening to help us understand one another and to help us engage meaningfully with our community.  There is still work to be done, and probably always will be, but we know that we can count on our Presbyterian Women (and men) to build a loving community.

Honoring the PW lifetime member Louise

Developing leaders Marie

Presbyterian Women provides an atmosphere that promotes personal growth and develops women’s gifts of responsible and visionary leadership. Empowered to serve PW, many women also go on to lead in their churches, communities and the denomination.

For some of us, the title “leader” seems like a perfect fit; for others, it seems like an overly bold proclamation of skills. Yet, in reality, each of us is a leader in some way—perhaps by delegating chores to family members, organizing the church rummage sale, monitoring a PW group’s finances or meeting attendance, or coordinating a mission project.

Presbyterian Women Churchwide offers a number of resources and programs to help leaders.

Third Church is and has always been a great place to raise a daughter, because we are on the leading edge of empowering women for leadership within the church.  We are also a great community to raise sons too.  Recently, we have encouraged our younger members to take on leadership roles in the church and in PW.  Change is hard, especially in leadership, because these changes mean that the way our church functions will change.  Some of these changes will be welcomed and others not so much, but our willingness to experiment with new thoughts and ideas and leaders will help us adapt to the changing world around us.  Who knows?  Maybe this will all work out for good and for the glory of God.  

Hymn #313 Come Down, O Love Divine 

Benediction Karie

Philippians 4:8, adapted[11]

Now, as friends:
May all that is true,
all that is noble,
all that is just and right,
all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable, fill our thoughts and our hearts.


[1] Presbyterian Mission Agency Article about Gifts of Women

[2] Gifts of Women Resource

[3] Office of Theology and Worship, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Book of Common Worship, Daily Prayer (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2018), 71.

[4] Blair Gilmer Meeks, “The Season of Ash and Fire: Prayers and Liturgies for Lent and Easter” p.50

[5] Lona Fowler, Images: Women in Transition, edited by Janice Grana (Nashville, TN: The Upper Room, 1976).

[6] Mirabai Starr’s prayer to Shekinah from her book “Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics” p. 225

[7] Mirabai Starr’s prayer to Shekinah from her book “Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics” I substituted “Holy Spirit” for “Shekinah” to avoid having to over explain to the Presbyterian congregation (that I love) already being pushed out of their comfort zone.  

[8] Matthew 27: 61 “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.”  Matthew 28:1 “After the Sabbath, as the fist day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.”

[9] I got these names from a Wikipedia timeline of women’s ordination

[10] From an interpretation of The Lord’s prayer in Aramaic, “Prayers of the Cosmos” by Neil Douglas-Koltz

[11] From PW Celebration of Gifts of Women resource 

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