All the Women Who Were Willing

  • Exodus 35:1-36:38
  • Matthew 27:32-66
  • Psalm 34:1-10
  • Proverbs 9:7-8

Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun – blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun with goat hair…..All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.

Exodus 35: 25 – 29

We start today’s reading with Moses assembling the Israelite community and telling them instructions from the Lord. I love that the first thing that he tells them is about the sabbath rest.

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” – Ex 35:2

Wow, the Lord takes his sabbath day serious right?!?! Notice that he says its YOUR holy day. Perhaps this is a gift to us? Because for six days we work, and God’s gift to us is to take his rest and prioritize it. Do you do that? Yea, I’ve struggled with that too. There just always seems like so much work to do right? I must admit, since my nest emptied out, I’ve been honoring this day of nap more and more.

Anyway, Moses goes on to tell the Israelites all the temple items to be build by instruction from God. Then “everyone who was willing and whole heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting for all its service, and for the sacred garments.-Ex 35:21 I love that. Everyone worked together to get the job done!!

St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church was a church home our family had for about 8 years, when the kids were young. Some of our longest term friendships began there. It was a very active community that was rooted in Christ and led by a wonderful priest named Fr. John Keller. He was such a good man. Fr. John began and developed men’s and women’s retreats, an annual fall festival, Bible studies, children’s ministry, and he even spearheaded the pre-school that Dakota went to. Jeff and I were both on the retreat teams and we got deeply involved in Marriage Encounter there…..which honestly, I don’t know if we’d still be married today if it weren’t for W.W.M.E. What made these ministries so special and sacred are the people in them and the fact that we all brought our gifts. Each person willingly brought their gifts, and together we created a beautiful community and lasting friendships.

In Matthew we find ourselves at the point where Jesus gets crucified and dies on the cross. At first it seems that he’s been left all alone with a not so willing participant, Simon, forced to carry the cross, as his only helper. The only people left around, it seems are the soldiers, the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law. Oh wait, we still have the rebels and bystanders hurling insults at him and mocking him.

Then darkness comes over the land and Jesus cries out to his father “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” – Matthew 27:46 and gives up his spirit. Then the curtain was torn, the earth shook, the rocks split open and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. Many believed because of this earthquake and all that happened. But wait….don’t give up hope because…..

Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. Among them were Mary Madalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Matthew 27:55-56

Jesus wasn’t alone after all!! (and neither are you, friend) These women had brought their gifts! But oh my, how difficult must this have been? You mean they were there the whole time? In the book of John, we learn that Mary, Jesus’ mother was there too. My goodness. Now this was no fall festival. These women followed Jesus throughout his ministry, all the way to the end. They followed him to “care for his needs”. Sometimes what’s needed is just to BE THERE, right?

Have you ever been to a funeral for a friends family member? Or met up with someone who is going through a job loss or family crisis? Its hard to know what to say right? Sometimes, just sitting with the person is the best option, rather than trying to find the right words.

Holy Rest. Sabbath to the Lord. Willingly being there, is gift.

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus.

Matthew 27:57

In the Luke 23:50 it tells us that actually Joseph was a member of the Council and in John 19:38 we find that he was secretly a disciple because he was afraid of the leaders. It would have been very difficult for this man to stand up to the council. I know I would have wanted to do more, but Joseph, he used his gifts when he could to give Jesus a proper burial. He brought his gifts too.

Lord, sometimes its hard for me to recognize my own gifts and scary to use them. I ask that you give me courage to explore and experiment with the gifts that you have given me. Strengthen me to willingly bring my gifts to the altar and share them when the time is right. I repent of the times that I have been too pushy with what I think are gifts, but then turn out to be untimely. I repent of the times that I didn’t use my talents because of fear or just sheer laziness. Teach me and mold me to perfect my skills and use them to build your Kingdom.

What are your gifts of time, talent and treasure? Are you using them to build God’s Kingdom?

Are you burnt out from doing too much? Do you need to take a rest and just sit at the cross with a friend?

Do you consistently take a sabbath day? Do you know that a day of rest is God’s gift TO YOU?! Its ok to rest, you’ll be a better person if you do.

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