As a child, Bible stories fascinated me. I tried to imagine what it was like to live in times so long ago. Rarely, however, did I ever see any connection to what happened in ancient times with what was happening in my life. After all, my world was close to 2000 years older and far from the lands of Pharaohs and Roman invaders.
As I grew, I learned to see the lessons within Scripture. But, again, I found it difficult to connect to these men who battled giants or spoke eloquent words in the Temple. The only women I remember mentioned were few and far between. How I wished there was more for a woman to connect with in the Bible.
A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of receiving a copy of Bible Sisters by Rev. Gennifer Benjamin Brooks in the mail. Bible Sisters is a 365-day devotional that includes the well-known women of the Bible (Eve, Sarah, Ruth, Rebecca, Mary, Martha...) as well as those we know little about and who often go unnamed like Hagar or the Widow of Zarephath.
When I received the book, I was intrigued to find out how there could be 365 women of note. To my surprise, I found was that there are few repetitions. For instance, Eve is mentioned a couple of times; however, each meditation is on a different aspect of Eve related to a quote from Scriptures. I was truly amazed.
As I scanned the book, I was drawn to different nameless women. One that really resonated was the entry for "The Mothers of the Martyred Children of Bethlehem." As a Catholic school girl, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Innocents. I always felt sad thinking of these little ones who were killed in an attempt to make sure that the Holy Child did not live. Then, I remember seeing Pieter Brueghel the Elder's painting, The Massacre of the Innocents, set in a snow-filled village. The painting brought this event closer to home, as it felt as if it could have happened in New England where I lived. I wept as only a child can. The poor mothers, I thought. But, still, other than the snow, I really didn't see a connection to my life as a child in Boston.
That changed as I read the meditation for these mothers in Bible Sisters. Instantly, it brought to mind all the women around the world whose children die in war, in famine and of diseases that are preventable. The prayer at the end of this meditation is the prayer of all mothers, "Christ of Bethlehem, hear the cries of our hearts and grant us peace. Amen."
The fact that Rev. Benjamin Brooks is able to create these connections to the past, shining light on them with her meditation so that the reader can see the connection to life today, then ending with a short, yet, pertinent prayer is, for me, exceptional. I found myself drawn into the book through her use of familiar terms, like grandmother as well as her references to today's women.
I highly recommend Bible Sisters to all who want to deepen their understanding of the women of Sacred Scripture in order to find a connection for life today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
The Rev. Dr. Gennifer Benjamin Brooks—the author—is the Ernest and Bernice Styberg Professor of Preaching and the director of the Styberg Preaching Institute at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. In both her teaching and her pastorate as an ordained elder in the New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, she is committed to supporting women and speaking out in support of their rightful place in the realm of God and in the church.
To celebrate the introduction of Bible Sisters, I will be giving away a copy. Leave a comment and I will use Random.org to select a winner.