“Rooted In Love” – that is the theme of the Women’s Gathering. You might think, that’s so typical of women – talking about love again! Well, it is true that women are into love. After all, women are nurturers – they want to raise their family with love, and give their children many good things filled with love. They want to strengthen their families with much love and support. So, yes, women are into love. But our event, the National Presbyterian Women’s Gathering, is more than about love.
It is very much about being in community. It is about coming together as Christians. It is God’s purpose that we gather as believers. The prophet Isaiah had the vision to gather people from all nations, from north, south, east and west. He said in Isaiah 43:8 & 9 “Bring forth the people who are blind, yet have eyes; who are deaf, yet have ears! Let all the nations gather together, and let the peoples assemble.” Isaiah also says in chapter 2 verse 3, “ Many peoples shall come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” In Hebrews 10:24-25 we are encouraged to meet and gather. It says, “let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
So, gathering is God’s purpose and calling. God wants the believers to gather so that He can teach us his ways and so that we may walk in his paths.
When we gather in Christ, wonderful and miraculous things can happen. Look what God did for the multitudes in John 6:1-15 – Jesus fed 5000 (probably more like 10,000 including the women) from five loaves and two fish. The people were gathered to hear Jesus; they came to be fed spiritually. They did not expect to be fed like this. They only expected their souls to be replenished perhaps. But Jesus fed them physically and their spirits were more than replenished as they experienced the miracle Jesus performed. Miracles happen when we are gathered in Christ and with the Spirit.
But miracles are not the only reason why it is good to gather. When we are in community, we gain strength; we are fortified from the sharing and support that we receive from each other. There is an African saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That is so true, it is better for a child to be within a caring community, with many mentors and supporters taking care of them. A whole community can do so much more than any individual. The early Christians lived together, as one community. They shared everything they had and took care of each other, especially the widows and the weak ones. Community is a God-given gift.
That is why it is so beautiful and special whenever we come together. Realistically, we cannot be with each other physically all the time, although we are together spiritually wherever we are in the world. Realistically, it is rare for us to be able to be together in one place.
At the Women’s Gathering, over 500 people come together. Many of them do not know each other (most come in small groups, like 5 to 10 from a congregation); some are from the other side of the world (like our international guests); some are from other denominations (like the United Church Women, Catholic Women’s League, PCUSA Women). We come from all different walks of life, but we are one because the Spirit of God makes us one.
As we come together at the Gathering, God will bless us. We will be blessed because we came. We will also meet women from around the world and hear their stories, and we will walk in solidarity with each other so that women everywhere will be empowered. This is why we come together every three years, so that we can learn from each other, rejoice with each other, and be in solidarity with each other.