Proverbs 31 used to be a standard at funerals. That was before we realized that womanly virtue meant more than giving a husband bragging rites in the city gates. I use to think it my pastoral duty to root out both masculine and feminine stereotypes in liturgy, hymnody and scripture. Now I’m not so sure.
Americans are not very good with failure. We take it personally; we draw lines in the sand and cast blame. And the Chicago Public Schools are, for the most part, failing—failing to provide an environment that fosters teacher excellence, failing to provide a physical environment in which kids can learn, failing to graduate kids with the basic skills to succeed, failing to graduate kids at all.
Those of us who follow the lectionary have encountered the industrious woman of Proverbs 31 many times. Every three years she appears with her wool and flax, her distaff and spindle, her keen eye for both fashion and a good deal, her open hand to the poor, and her penchant for providing her husband bragging rights at the city gates. But we haven’t always welcomed her.
When Stacy Johnson Myers of First Congregational Church in River Falls, Wisconsin, asked illustrator Amy Sands to create 36 images of Bible scenes for the congregation’s faith formation, the results were vivid and engaging. Now Myers has collaborated with Kathryn Brewer to create three books of these colorful images. “There are different kinds of darkness . . .” begins Light in the Darkness, which tells biblical stories from creation through Pentecost with a focus on God’s covenantal relationship with the world. Many congregations across the country are now purchasing copies of the books and prints of the artwork from the congregation’s website (firstchurchrf.org, October 4).