Out of the Shadows
Preaching the Women of the Bible
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The story of the Bible is most often told as the story of men, from patriarchs to prophets, kings, disciples and apostles. But women are there, sometimes in the background, sometimes striding powerfully onto the stage. Their story is moving, prophetic and good news for the congregations to whom we preach.
Out of the Shadows seeks to enable preachers to see these often marginal characters in a new light, offering ideas about how to communicate their stories with power, resonance and punch.
List of Abbreviations vii
Foreword by Mark Oakley ix
1. Woman Wisdom: An Empowering Voice 1
2. Eve: The Long Shadow of Blame 11
3. Sarah: The Shadow of Ownership 25
4. Five ‘Lowly’ Women: The Shadow of Marginalization 36
5. Jephthah’s Daughter: The Shadow of Control 48
6. Ruth: The Shadow of Racism 59
7. Abigail: The Shadow of Neglect 68
8. Huldah: The Shadow of Oversight 81
9. Vashti and Esther: The Shadow of Control 92
10. Mary the Mother of Jesus: The Shadow of Tradition 102
11. Elizabeth: The Shadow of Childlessness 116
12. Martha and Mary: The Shadow of Misinterpretation 131
13. Haemorrhaging Woman: The Shadow of Shame 142
14. Mary Magdalene: The Shadow of Denigration 150
15. ‘A’ Woman Anoints Jesus’ Feet: The Shadow of Prejudice 158
16. Women Witnesses in Luke: The Shadow of Dismissal 170
17. Women in Acts and the Epistles: The Glorious Gathering of Women 182
Appendix: Sermon Series Suggestions 203
Index of Bible References 208
Index of Names and Subjects 211
"This is intelligent writing which opens doors for imaginative preaching and roots this life giving ministry in prayer." -- The Rt Revd Alison White, Bishop of Hull
"An important, accessible and comprehensive account of the too-long silenced voices of women of the bible. Including the women you know, the women you thought you knew and the women you hadn't heard of or had long forgotten, this book seeks them out and brings them out of the deep shadows imposed on them. This is a book for everyone seeking to challenge their own bias, conscious or unconscious and is particularly urgent given the public conversations around violence against women and the dismantling of patriarchy. I commend it to you with urgency, it will challenge, inform and gently but surely change the way you think, speak and write about these women of faith." -- The Revd Kate Bottley
“What an absolute gift Kate Bruce and Liz Shercliff have gifted the preacher. How boldly and vibrantly the women of scripture speak through their insightful telling of their stories. How dynamically they spring to life. In “Out of the Shadows’, they write of “Woman Wisdom’ being an inspirational ally for the woman preacher. This book, in its entirety, is a confident, wise, and powerful ally that all preachers will want to turn to, again and again. It will sit firmly on my writing desk, very close to hand." -- Jenny Cornfield, Freelance charity consultant
"This book is stuffed with scriptural sleuthery, homiletical skill, and pastoral sensitivity. Kate and Liz show preachers how honouring women’s stories leads to encountering God’s Wisdom." -- Revd Matthew Allen, Diocese of Blackburn, UK
“The gift Kate and Liz offer us afresh is the gift of the preacher, who only ever holds out a clumsy gauntleted hand and watches in wonder as the majestic eagle of the scriptures takes flight and God’s voice is heard in the hearts of the hearer. Decide today that these women will not remain in the shadows.”-- The Rt Revd Mark Tanner, Bishop of Chester
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