Lesson 1 (alternate): Judges 4:4-9.
Here’s an example of how the lectionary doesn’t always match up with the practice of the church. Here in the UK, it’s Mother’s Day today – more properly, Mothering Sunday. (If my mum’s reading this, hello, happy day-we-don’t-celebrate-because-we’re-Quakers. Which is every day, actually.) If you’ve been in a shop or seen any advertising over the last few weeks, it’s pretty much impossible to miss this. This week my Brownies made mother’s day crafts; they’ve been invited, as they are every year, to a church service, at which they will probably hand out bunches of flowers to any mothers in the congregation (and sometimes any spare middle-aged or elderly women; actually bearing-and-raising-of-children isn’t, in my observation, always a strict requirement on these occasions although it’s clearly strongly recommended.)
The compilers of the Inclusive Language Lectionary may have had this in mind when they looked at this week’s readings from 2 Chronicles, Ephesians and John and decided to add the option of a passage from Judges about Deborah. There is, as the Jewish Women’s Encyclopaedia says, “no other heroine like Deborah in the Hebrew Bible”. She is shown as – among other things – a mother, a prophet, and a military commander. I am not sure – as I said last week about Jesus – that this makes for a brilliant role model as such, but I suppose it’s got to better than nothing, which is what you often find when you search Bible stories for female role models.