There is not a person in our family who would not be able to recount our first Christmas in the Muslim country where we served. It was a very conservative nation, and we knew before we ever went there that the context would not lend itself to traditional celebrating. We determined early on to do all we could to make it wonderful for the family and meaningful to our Muslim neighbors.
I never thought much of Ash Wednesday before, since in my denomination the Lenten ritual of having the sign of the cross caressed into one’s forehead with symbolic ash isn’t really practiced. I’ve never thought it was heresy or anything; in fact, aside from casual conversations I may have had with friends who wore their ash crosses home from church on Ash Wednesday, I never really thought of it much at all.
It’s that time of year again. We’ve made our resolutions. Maybe we’re scurrying to the gym or feverishly cleaning out our closets. Perhaps we’re embarking on an exciting Bible reading plan. The start of a new year sparks a change in us all, spurring us on to new habits, a clean slate, a fresh start. But what if this year marked much more? What if this new year actually brought new life? When it comes to Muslim women, there can be no greater thought!
We have lifted our hands in heartfelt surrender as we admired her faith. We have run myriad miles with her, breathing deeply the sigh of relief as we experienced her safe place. Now we raise our voices in song and our hearts in prayer yet again as we study her praise. What an estimable companion Mary has been as we have traversed together through the Christmas season.
We’ve spent the last few weeks delving deeply into the awe-inspiring faith of Mary. We now turn our hearts toward her place, her chosen destination. The Bible explicitly teaches God’s design for life in community. We are not meant to be alone nor to do life on our own. There’s no sense in denying it: we are simply better together!
This week our Advent story finds us right in the middle of Mary’s stunning revelation from the angel: she has found favor with God! What a wondrous thought! Don’t we all long for this?
God loves women. He loves Christian women. He equally loves Muslim women. God loves all women. Women matter to God. In a day and age where not every culture or country celebrates this fact, we need to hear this truth again straight from the Word of God. Never doubt for a moment that women matter to God.