The Skilled Women Speak

Day 2 - Church of St. Gabriel and Mary's Well
Church of St. Gabriel
Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made by hands…(Acts 7:48)

I heard the women before I saw them.  The murmur of pleasant conversation, an occasional laugh…I will refrain from calling them ‘cackles’!  As I drew near, the group greeted me pleasantly and moved over to give me space to join them without dropping a stitch.  “Shalom” rang a chorus of different voices.  Some smiled and looked up from their work.

They were working on beautiful tapestries, each one unique but equally amazing.  What I noticed next was that this circle could have been the church quilting bee, or the women in the kitchen fixing a meal together at my church! A group of busy women- different sizes and shapes, young and old—individuals yet sharing a common task with enthusiasm and camaraderie.

I noticed young women, browned from the sun, radiating energy and strength.   I saw strong arms and hands, women who could drive a tent peg into the hard ground.  I also noticed some lined faces, signs of age and hard work.  Some were massaging aching muscles, with shoulders bent and backs worn from years of labor.  Others had toddlers at their knees, and some had babies swaddled close to their breast.  Some of them told me they herded the very sheep whose wool they spun, and some were weavers.  They were teaching their skills to their daughters; even their young sons learned at their knees.  The place was bustling with activity as one young mother left the circle to retrieve a wandering child.

When I exclaimed over their work the chorus of explanations began.  “The Lord has asked us to make a great tent where he will abide with us!” one woman exclaimed proudly.

“Right now we are making tapestries to adorn the Lord’s dwelling place.” Others chimed in with explanations.

“We are weaving strands of gold into our tapestries.”

“We have contributed our dowries, and this gold thread is my gift to Him” shared another.  Without a hint of selfish pride she continued, “The Lord specifically asked the women to join in the work.  He has given us instructions about every detail.”

Not to be outdone one woman leaned in so I might not miss a single word, and said, “We know he is guiding our hands!  We have never made tapestries like this before.”

Another spoke up, “When the Lord asked us to build his dwelling place, we were honored.  We are working alongside our men.”

The woman sitting next to her added, “And my husband!  He is a carpenter and you should see the work he is doing.  He is a master carpenter, and he has made many beautiful things. But he has never done such work as he is doing now!”  Others nodded and commented that their husbands and sons were experiencing the same thing.

“We have put our hearts into our gifts to the Lord.  He deserves the best and I feel Him working in my heart,” said one young woman with a brilliant smile.

“Did you know that our leader Moses had to tell us to stop giving?” one woman reported.

As another woman pulled her long silver hair back, she commented, “You should know that no one is forcing us to do this. The Lord invited us to this work.  We are not his slaves; we are his followers.”  She announced with dignity, “He is our God.”

Around the circle the women nodded their heads and began again to speak at once, sharing their excitement about what the Lord was doing among them.  Their eagerness, their desire for excellence, the contagious joy overwhelmed me with a sense of God’s spirit as well.  I marveled at what occurs when a group of people has united in a worthy goal in one spirit.  It seemed like there was nothing they could not accomplish, and the work was a gift of love. If these skillful women had only known Jesus, whom we now have the privilege of knowing, imagine how they would have rejoiced.

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.                                                                                                                                  Ephesians 2: 18-22 (ESV)