More From Monica A. Andermann

March 8, 2023 by Monica A. Andermann (New York, USA)

Today, International Women’s Day is observed. This is the anniversary of a protest in New York City by women garment workers near the turn of the 20th century. The workers were fighting for improvements in child labor laws and better working hours and protesting against unfair labor practices and  sweatshop conditions. Since then, we’ve come a long way and have made many improvements in these areas.

Surprisingly, I, as a woman of “a certain age,” had never heard of International Women’s Day until a friend spoke of it about a year ago. In the time since, I’ve given quite a bit of thought to the strides taken on this front and have a newfound gratitude for the women, both then and now, who have made and continue to make my life better.

In the Bible, one of the first messages we are given in the creation story is, “So God created humans in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27, NRSV). Jesus echoed this sentiment in Matthew 19:1-6 when he spoke of the sanctity of marriage. And James admonishes us that true religion involves visiting widows and orphans (see Jas. 1:27). When we apply this knowledge to the Biblical stories of women such as Jochebed, Shiphrah, and Puah, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene, we become even more aware that God honors the important roles of women in the world God created.

While I enjoy the freedoms and opportunities my situation affords me, sadly, not all women can. Unfortunately, lack of opportunity—including education, employment, and housing—continues to be a reality for many women around the globe. Even more tragically, human trafficking, violence, and injustice continue to target women and children as well. I wonder, What would James say about that today?

As a woman, one of my important roles is to honor the words written in Genesis, Matthew, and James. Sometimes this task feels overwhelming when I imagine the struggles of others. However, I like to believe that I make a difference by doing what I can. I bless those in need daily with prayer and ask God to soften the hearts of those who exploit them. Yet, James also reminds us that faith without works is dead (see Jas. 2:17), so I take it one step further. With each donation I make to my community’s food bank, with each coat I give to my town’s annual coat drive, with each toy I purchase for a Christmas charity, and with the time I spent volunteering at a local nursing home, I have fulfilled an important role, just as others have done for me. And in this way, the circle of love goes round and round.

Today, and every day, let us acknowledge the important roles of all women (and men) who work to make our lives a little better. Perhaps more importantly, let us also remember to fulfill our own responsibility in this circle of God’s love in action when and where we can, as the Holy Spirit leads us.

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