Sermon: A Virtuous Woman

Woman-Praying-study-for-via-dolorosa_-1927_-Chalk-drawings-on-paper

Proverbs: 31: 10 – 31

The first time I read this passage, I thought, wow…what an amazing portrait of a woman, how wonderful, what a paragon of virtue…

The second time I read this…I starting getting TICKED OFF!

By the third time through, I decided that I didn’t like her very much at all…she not only makes clothes for the household but she also makes covers for all the beds?

Oh, come on now…why doesn’t it mention those crabby days of exhaustion when nothing is going right, and your to do list is getting longer, not shorter, and night comes and you don’t feel you accomplished one darn thing that made the day worthwhile?

This beautiful Ode to a Capable Wife suddenly started sounding to me like the commercials on TV that say to us, that we are supposed to do it all….AND look beautiful in Calvin Klein jeans while we are doing it.

So, I got up and went for a walk.

And then I looked at the passage, one…more… time…and I thought, how does she do it all? How can we do it all? Not just Moms, all of us, any of us, each one of us? Mom, Dad, daughter, son, student, teacher, employee, boss, neighbor, friend..

How can we do it all, and do it all well? How can we have it all? How do we do all we need to do on any given, busy, overloaded day? Well, let’s see what we can learn from the Virtuous Woman.

“She does good, not harm.” This is almost too simple. We all know that doing good, makes us feel good. This is why we are having conversations with each other about doing more as a faith family out in our community. But sometimes it’s also just the simple things.

There are studies that show that if you simply smile at other people, you not only boost their morale, the act of smiling, the act of using those particular muscles in that particular way, releases endorphins in your brain, and make you feel good as well. So simply smiling, is an important way to help, not only yourself, but others, to have a better day.

“The Virtuous woman rises while still night and provides food for her household and tasks for her servant girls“…AH HA!! THAT’s the secret…she has servant girls! She has help!!!

Ah, ha….She has help.

We may not have servant girls available to help us…but that doesn’t mean there isn’t help to be found. Asking for help is something too many of us have trouble doing.

Asking for help might mean we’re a failure..or it might mean something doesn’t get done exactly the way we would do it…but it does mean that something gets done, and it means we didn’t have to do it.

AND it reminds us that we don’t have to carry our burdens alone.

“The Virtuous woman girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong.”
I almost wanted to skip this one…this sounds like exercise to me. Something my expanding girth reminds me I need to start paying a little more attention to. The Virtuous Woman girds herself with strength, she wraps herself up in strength, she takes good care of herself and makes herself strong.

We know that eating in a more healthy way, getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, getting out in the beauty of creation to walk, bike, skip, hop, run, meander, sit in the shade, drink in the sky…all help us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Taking time for ourselves, to care for ourselves, gives us the strength to take care of others. When we wear ourselves ragged, we have nothing left to give. Jesus used to go off by himself to spend time in prayer to refresh his Spirit and recharge his batteries. He would send the disciples on ahead so that he could spend some time alone. Resting in God is one of the ways we can replenish ourselves for all we wrestle with in our busy lives.

What else?

“She opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out to the needy…she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

One of the best things we can give one another is kind words. Positive feedback…Words of praise! I love this image of having “the teaching of kindness always on our tongues.” Are you quick to complement or complain?

Sometimes we get stuck looking at the big problems in our society…like homelessness…we follow our politicians, write letters to government, support programs with donations…but we will hurry past the homeless person who sits begging on the sidewalk.

We may not always carry cash with us to hand out everywhere we go…but can’t we always have a “kind word waiting on our tongues?”

Don’t we always have a smile ready to be released into the world? We are not just called to open our wallets. We are called to open our hearts and reach out our hands to the poor with a generosity of spirit, time, patience, love, and grace.

What is one of the most crucial things that the Virtuous Woman does to help her get through?

Here it is…in the midst of managing her household, providing food, buying fields, planting vineyards, working the distaff and spindle to weave and make clothes and linens and fine coverings…she does one critical thing to keep going….

SHE LAUGHS!!

In the midst of all the demands, the chaos, the responsibilities, the endless tasks…she laughs and “her children rise up and call her happy, her husband too!!” After all, laughter is the best medicine!

Again, studies have proven that frequent, prolonged laughter, releases good, mood lifting chemicals in our bodies, laughter reduces our blood pressure, and laughter helps us regain our perspective on life.

One great source of laughter that also often offers a change of perspective is to remember to stop now and then and look at the world through the eyes of the children around us.

After the Memorial service yesterday, one of the little girls ran up to me as we were all getting into our cars to drive to the cemetery. She looked very worried and she said to me, “Our car doesn’t have a yellow flag on it!”

I told her she didn’t need one, that the cars in front with the yellow flags would lead us to where we are going and we would all follow. She went running back to her Mom, all smiles, shouting excitedly, we don’t need a flag, we’re playing follow the leader!

When we got to the cemetery, there was a bagpiper playing, and when he finished, the youngest kids were gathering around him with wide eyes looking at his pipes and his kilt and other paraphernalia. One of the boys looked up at him with great admiration and wonder and said, “Is that a pirate hat? Are you a pirate?”

The world is a surprising place when, now and then, we look at it through someone else’s eyes…and when we remember to play.

Our Ode to a Virtuous woman concludes with one last, and perhaps, most important coping mechanism.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, is to be praised.” A woman, a person, who fears the Lord, who stands in awe of God, who is overwhelmed and awestruck by the wonders of life and the daily mystery and blessing of living in God’s created world, is to be praised.”

The number one way to get through all that life throws at us, is to live each day awestruck with the wonders of life and the daily mystery and blessings of God’s creation. The number one way to get through is with faith in God. Our faith is the rock and foundation upon which we can firmly plant our feet when all around us seems to be turning to quicksand.

Our faith is our lifeline to grab hold of when we feel we are going under for the third time. Our faith is the shelter we can take refuge in when the winds of chaos are howling at our door.

As concerned adults, parents or not, we sometimes worry that children don’t understand the world, that they are too plugged in, too overscheduled, too over-stimulated, too independent, too…”fill in the blank.”

So, I will leave you with one more story from the service yesterday.

One of the teenage granddaughter’s of the woman who died wrote a remembrance that was read to us. She said that she will miss hearing her Gramma upstairs sweetly singing all her favorite hymns …when her Gramma thought she wasn’t listening.

This is something to keep in mind, not just for parents, there are all kinds of children all around us…the children of this church, for example.

We might think children don’t listen…but they do..we might think they aren’t watching…but they are…even when we don’t know it.

Children learn from us by watching what we do…”Do what I say, not what I do, doesn’t cut it.” Children can see us pretty clearly…maybe more clearly than is comfortable…

What is it we want them to “monkey see, monkey do” when they watch us, when we think they aren’t looking?

We enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of children, but never forget, they stop every now and then and look at the world through our eyes….

What will they see? What are we teaching them by how we live our lives?

No pressure!!

Here’s the Mother’s Day message for all of you today…

God asks us to do the best we can do on any given day.
God knows some days are better than others.
God knows some days, we are glad to see the day come to an end.

And God knows, some days, some days, some glorious days, we get to shine.

The best thing about any day, is that God our Mother,
knows us and loves us.

God, our Mother, forgives and cherishes us.
God, our Mother, laughs and weeps with us.

The best thing about any day, is that God our Mother,
is always here for us.

So, have you reached out and thanked your Mother today?

Happy Mother’s Day!

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