Today's Lectionary Text
Proverbs 31:10-13A capable wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor,
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
James 3:13Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.
James 3:17-18But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.
“You’d better come get me. I think I need to go to the ER.” It was the voice of Glenn, my husband, on the other end of the phone. He was working at a Habitat for Humanity build, where he is a Core Volunteer. A stool on which he was standing had slipped off the porch, bucking him hard into a pile of dirt. I went and picked him up at the site and we went to the ER. His right proximal humerus was broken and he got to spend 36 hours in the hospital.
Now, I am trying to be a “capable” wife (NRSV), a “competent” one (CEB), a “good woman” (The Message). I do not do too well putting my hands to the distaff and holding the spindle. However, several characteristics do emerge as significant for this time and place in history.
The passage from Proverbs notes that a good woman’s hand is open to the poor and reaches out to the needy. Certainly, qualities that are very important today. Near the end of this chapter comes a reminder that “the woman who fears the Lord” is to be praised. Again, this is a description that aptly applies to the faithful woman or man today.
In the third chapter of James more phrases appear that describe behaviors and actions of the capable Christian. We are reminded to act with wisdom and gentleness. The required wisdom, in the words of the writer, is peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits. Then the list gets hard, as I try to be a competent wife, living as a disciple in the presence of my husband. After all, he’s my husband. I am with him all the time. I don’t need to be particularly peaceful or gentle. I really do not want to give in and do things his way. It is so much easier to offer mercy, kindness, and comfort as I help put on a shirt or buckle a belt, if I do those tasks in my own way.
On our respective faith journeys, it is hard to reach beyond what is familiar -- our customary way of doing things, our neighbors next door or just across the street. We are expected to go outside our own zone of familiarity if we truly desire to live as followers of Christ. It is especially hard when we need to reach just across the kitchen table and act gently and with compassion with those closest to us, and as we push the boundaries that we know so well. That is what the capable, competent thing is about though. These two passages offer not a list of tasks to be done in order to win the good wife award. They provide a guide for ways to live faithfully both in our closest relationships and as we push out into our hurting world. This then becomes a route to draw closer to God and to experience God’s grace-filled love.
-Rev. Dianne Tombaugh
Retired Diaconal Minister
Prayer for Reflection
Holy One, Pure Love, Far-reaching Compassion: Thank you for empowering me to serve you. What a privilege it is to be your disciple. Help me, this day, to do it well. Amen.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color