The reading for the last Sunday in Lent is from John's Gospel. It is the story of the raising of Lazarus and the faith of Martha and Mary. It is a look at Jesus in the midst of those he was closest to, while a politically charged religious argument was swirling around, threatening his life. In the middle of this intense drama we hear Martha say to Jesus, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world." John 11:27 Martha is clear in her faith, amidst her loss and the keening of the mourners, she is able to see her dear friend Jesus for who he is, her vision clear despite all of the overwhelming press of real life.
I have been reminded over and over again of the faithfulness of sisters - my sisters, there are four of us and three of us are still living. My sisters have always had the capacity to see clearly the true gifts in others, and have always been able to declare them loudly. My sisters have always given me faith -strength in the midst of all that is swirling around. I am reminded of my sister bishops, who hold each other up in prayer and are always ready with support and faithful encouragement. And I am reminded of my daughters - three wonderful sisters who in every age have loved each other fiercely, had held each other tight and have faithfully defended each other despite their differences. Beacons of light and faith. I have been blessed with Marthas and Marys and a legion of women who have taught me so much about love and faith. In the midst of intrigue, stench and the noisy crowds of life, these many women declare God's love and activity in my life - in all our lives. For them I give God great thanks today.
On this international day of Women, as the day ends, may we all give thanks for the women, the sisters in our lives who have faithfully and tirelessly loved fiercely and well. May we give thanks for their declarations of God's incarnation in the midst of the world in Jesus Christ, the savior of the world. Thanksgiving for their smiles and laughter, their hospitality and cups of tea, their stories and their songs. I am so blessed because of their witness.
When our girls were small we used to sing them to sleep with this song. " Lay down, sweet sister, lay down and take your rest. Lay down your head upon your savior's breast. I love you but Jesus loves you the best. And I bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight." Goodnight to all the wonderful women and men who have been beacons of faith, and to all of us journeying to live resting in the loving arms of the savior of the world.