Like I mentioned in another post, I wrote a short theological reflection for the Bridge of Hope Artisan Gathering. It’s short and to the point, as I was looking to save time for group discussion on unity.
Following the theme, “Advancing in Unity,” I pulled Numbers 27:1-11 on the Zepholehad sisters and Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, which work with teamwork and the value of a group over the individual. Of course, I did not intensively research these texts, but I feel I pulled together a coherent message. Likewise, I made the conscious effort to use a story about women acting in teamwork. The majority of Bridge of Hope’s artisans are female and I expect rarely receive a female-driven message from the Bible. Plus, I value offering the few men a vision of women in leadership.
Admittedly, I cut Numbers short, instead of following up with the section of the story where Moses asks the women to marry off because other men complain. As my mother said, those are two steps forward with one step back. Instead of exploring that dynamic, which would have been way off track, I let it go. So without further ado, here are both passages, my short reflection, and a prayer for teamwork that I found and shared.
Numbers 27: 1-11
The daughters of Zelophehad son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Makir, the son of Manasseh, belonged to the clans of Manasseh son of Joseph. The names of the daughters were Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milkah and Tirzah. They came forward and stood before Moses, Eleazar the priest, the leaders and the whole assembly at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among Korah’s followers, who banded together against the Lord, but he died for his own sin and left no sons. Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives.” So Moses brought their case before the Lord, and the Lord said to him, “What Zelophehad’s daughters are saying is right. You must certainly give them property as an inheritance among their father’s relatives and give their father’s inheritance to them. “Say to the Israelites, ‘If a man dies and leaves no son, give his inheritance to his daughter. If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative in his clan, that he may possess it. This is to have the force of law for the Israelites, as the Lord commanded Moses.’”
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
When we read this story, we see a group of women that overcome a system against them. During this time, women couldn’t own much of anything. For that, these women lost their wealth because the law prevented their rights.
They went to Moses, presented their ideas, and their opinions, and God agrees. God presents a new inheritance system that improves justice in the world. I want to focus on the teamwork of the women.
They show the importance of unity, as well as the confidence and solidarity to unite and face a problem. A lesson that Ecclesiastes summarizes well. “Two are better than one.” With two, there is support to help one another up when one falls, to overcome obstacles. It is essential to overcome any injustice. Without teamwork, the women would not have motivated that change.
What would happen if one of the sisters said, “Maybe, we should give up. This has never happened before and who are we?” There wouldn’t be support to overcome these obstacles. Even more, others would have said, “One of them does not have problems, so they should all stop causing problems. They would ignore the women.
I think that this is a message for Bridge of Hope. If we unite, we can lift each other up when we fall. We can overcome the obstacles of an economic system that is not fair and create a system of solidarity together. For that, I ask that we continue advancing in unity.
Prayer for Teamwork
We pray for unity and oneness of mind in making our united effort work out successfully.
We pray that we put aside personalities and that our uniqueness as individuals do not clash.
We pray that we respect all ideas and efforts and that our pride does not exalt itself over another.
We pray that we equally can share in the glory of the outcome of our effort.
We pray that this team might all recognize You as head.
We pray that our results might be as rewarding as our hopes are.
We pray that each and every member of this team might realize one another contribution for the whole. Bless this team and effort, Lord. Make us shining examples of the value of working together for good, for the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen