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SHE: THE STORIES OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH


 
 

BIBLE READINGS


Hebrews 13:5


5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


Matthew 19:21


21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”


Matthew 6:24


24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.


1 Timothy 6:17-19


17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.


Luke 12:33


33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.

 

SHE: THE STORIES OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH


CLARE OF ASSISI

 

Aproximately 800 years ago, a girl named Clare was born in the Italian town of Assisi. She was the oldest daughter of a wealthy and leading Count, which resulted in Clare enjoying about as much privilege as you would be able to experience during that time. Her mother was a faithful Christian who, much like Egeria, made pilgrimages to places like Rome and Israel. By all reports, Clare embraced the faith of her mother from a young age, and even as a child, liked to spend much of her time in prayer.


It was common in this historical period, like it is in our own, that Clare’s father had plans for her life, as influential parents often do. Family tradition, at that time, would have imposed marriage on her, but in March 1212, Clare attended a service during Lent and heard a preacher named Francis speak (You would know as St. Francis of Assisi). She was so persuaded and moved by his words that after the service, she approached Francis and asked him to help her to live a life devoted to the Gospel of Christ.


There are countless ways we can live lives devoted to Christ in our period of history, but for Clare, those words pretty much meant just one thing: She wanted to become a nun.


The wealth she had grown up with? It meant nothing to her, compared with what she had found in Christ. And marriage? It was out of the question. Clare and Francis adopted a plan, and on the evening of that year’s Palm Sunday, she left her father’s house with her aunt and met Francis at a chapel. Once there, her hair was cut (this was traditional for nuns at the time), and her clothes of privilege were exchanged for a plain dress. Once she was ready, Francis placed Clare with a group of nuns at a convent in the town of San Paulo.


Clare’s father, was not happy with the choice Clare had made. So, he traveled to San Paulo, determined to convince her to come home, but Clare refused to leave. No words or show of force could persuade her otherwise. It is reported by historians that she clung to the altar of her church and said she would have no other husband than Jesus Christ.


Clare did not hesitate in her purpose to follow the path God had set before her. She embraced and lived a life of joyful poverty in imitation


of Christ. She became an example for other women who wished to make a similar devotion to Christ. In fact, the Pope offered Clare an exemption from her vow of poverty, she refused. Later on in life, she took on the position of Abbess at her Convent, affording her the authority to protect the women under her care from the rules others wished to impose on them; and she encouraged and aided Francis in his work, even caring for him during his last days.



What can Clare’s life teach us? Well, following Jesus in a life of discipleship is better than any earthly comfort we could have or long for. Fulfillment in life is found when we are focused on following God, and live as best we can, in the center of his will.


Have you ever had a sense of God calling you to use your possessions for His glory, or to give up certain things so you can make Him your focus? If so, do not force those feelings down or disregard them. If God calls you to give your something of your possessions to a family in need or to stop a certain hobby because it is distracting you from your relationship with God, and following where He leads. As Clare found, you will find, your life will be richer as a result. Is that what our Bible verses are getting at today, that such surrender to our God who will “never leave us or forsake us” results in storing up heavenly treasure as a firm foundation, so that we may “take hold of the life that is truly life.” Amen.

 

PRAYER



God, help me exchange earthly comfort for a Kingdom mindset. Reveal to me any areas of my life in which I can be more generous or serve others more. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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