WPCU Final Day: Reflection by Rev. Gordon Rankin (UCC)

During the Week of Prayer for for Christian Unity (WPCU), the NH Council of Churches will post daily reflections from leaders its the ten member denominations. This year’s theme is “Justice and only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20).

Day 8: Woman, great is your faith!

1 Samuel 1:13-17
Matthew 15:21-28


Over the past six years I’ve been abundantly blessed to walk among and work with the Lakota. They have taught me truths about the inner workings of my spirit that I am convinced that I could not have learned anywhere else. They have also taught me much about how I am connected to the sins of my ancestors. I quickly learned one thing among my Lakota friends: no matter how long or well we had come to know each other because I always wore the face of a white man and bore the office of a religious leader. Both white men and religious leaders have been perpetual engaged through colonial enterprise in trying to silence First Nations peoples. My face reminded my Lakota friends of the pain and violence (cultural assimilation and genocide) that others who have worn my face have brought upon their families. Nothing would erase those associations. But I learned the one thing I could do is build some new associations of a different ways we could walk together in mutuality and unity.

In today’s scriptures, it is women who are being silenced. It is only through the persistent urging of Hannah and the Canaanite woman that Eli and Jesus are able to push beyond the social constructs that silence women and listen to the faithfulness in their voices. I fear that far too often even today that the sin of seeking to silence women, Indigenous people and other marginalized people continues. It ought not be their persistence, but rather our commitment to a just world that gets us to listen.

I believe there cannot truly be Christian unity until all voices are heard, respected and equally influential in the conversation. It is a matter of justice. It is a matter of being faithful to our God who calls each one “beloved.”

About the Author

Rev. Gordon Rankin is the Conference Minister of the New Hampshire Conference of the United Church of Christ, comprising 134 congregations.