Let’s be clear, I am a Jesus lover, a professor of biblical studies and a serious academic but I like a mindless reality television series as much as the next girl—maybe more. After a long day of text criticism I enjoy coming home to watch fashion and friendship on parade. However, fond as I am of the shoes and bags and hair extensions, I am always troubled to the core by the catfights and the conflicts and the blatant disconnect between the lives of these Bravo housewives and women everywhere.
Regularly, I find myself wanting to write my own series about the women with whom I share my life. I want the world, or at least the Bravo viewing audience, to know that we are women who are of one Spirit, one baptism and one Lord. I want the world to know that we share love and grace and tragedy and laughter—that we shop, mourn, celebrate new life and hold hands through the good and bad and raw of this life. We are real women in Indiana coping with loss and battling our weight, women who are desperate to become mothers and women who are trying to keep home and family and career a float. Right here where I live we lunch and meet for coffee, we hit the occasional White House Black Market sale, we Zumba and we take meals to a local strip club after Bible Study on Wednesday nights.
This makes me think maybe my little band of extraordinary women is more like the Real Housewives of the Galilee than those of the O.C. More like the women named in Luke’s gospel, chapter 8, women who have been healed and made whole by Jesus such that now they had surrendered all to follow him. There was Mary Magdalene, Joanna—wife of Herod’s business manager and Susanna…all of them united in their love of Jesus. What else they had in common we cannot be sure except that they all lived in the same district and they had all been brought through the fire by the hand of Jesus.
Though there are apparent socio-economic differences since Joanna was married to a man who was in the king’s employ, we are told whatever resources each one possessed were given over to the ministry of Jesus and the work of the Kingdom. These are women who have discovered the priority and purpose of life. Luke tells us that Jesus took his disciples along with these women on a Galilean tour, preaching and announcing the Kingdom of God. The text makes no effort to count the work of these women as less important, rather they are a part of the work, they are partners with Jesus in his work of redemption for all those lost and broken ‘round the Sea.
While it is true that we are separated by time and space, thousands of years, cultural and contextual differences from the women of Galilee, we were all born new into their lineage. The shattered and spent yet restored women in Jesus’ company are our fore-mothers and we bear their imprint on our lives. Maybe we long more for a Chanel bag today than a water jug for our heads but in our hearts we know the women of the Galilee best. We know what it is to be lost and found, blind and given sight, sick and made well, we know what it is to be confused and crushed by the circumstances of life all the while being certain about the One to whom we have surrendered.
Let it be said then that it is the story of these women of the Galilee and their love of Jesus that rule our lives not the ever entertaining Real Housewives of Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New York or Jersey who rule the fairy tale land that is called reality but in reality is not reality at all.