As Spring begins to bloom across Israel, flowers peek out from behind a long winter’s frost and animals rise from their deep slumber. From biblical to modern times, Spring has always symbolized renewal and reawakening. The Jews celebrate the coming of Pesach/Passover when God liberated His chosen people from their enslavement in Egypt, and through their Exodus, they wandered for 40 years in the desert until they renewed their identity as free people. For Christian Believers, this is also a season of renewal as Jesus’ miraculous resurrection is the ultimate symbol of revitalization in both body and spirit. However, for many disadvantaged women, there are few opportunities to see themselves outside of the role that society and their life circumstances have placed them in.
Across Israel, CBN works with different congregations to bring together groups of widows, single mothers, and victims of abuse in different cities to create a space of fellowship to share their common struggles and build a community of support. This past week, CBN Israel hosted a group of Jerusalem Believers for a seasonal dinner to share a meal and connect as the Spring season approaches. There were 35 women in attendance, many of whom have been present at previous events as well. The women were gathered to sing worship together, enjoy a meal, pray in small and larger groups, receive food vouchers for the coming season to support their families, and receive teaching on the renewal of one’s identity in faith.
The teaching was based on the Old Testament book/Megillah Song of Solomon. From Chapter 1 through 8 this book follows a woman who undergoes a transformation in self-perception, and this is exactly what the CBN Israel staff tried to inspire in the attendees of this event. The woman at the beginning of the passage is described as dark due to sun exposure from tending to her brother’s vineyard and neglecting her own – ‘Look not upon me, that I am swarthy, that the sun hath tanned me; my mother’s sons were incensed against me, they made me keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept’ (Song of Solomon 1:6). We can see that she forgoes self-prosperity for neglect, and lives into the role that was set for her. Her identity is conflicted though, as she describes herself as beautiful like ‘the tent of Solomon’, yet she knows she is viewed in contempt by her brothers and is described as dark and gloomy. In Chapter 2 we can see how the Spring season brings in transformation, as her newfound beloved calls her out of her hiding place, wishes to hear and see her, and wishes for her to be visible to all.
The teaching shows that it is easy to become this woman; A woman that sees herself through the lens of others or gets stuck in her own self-perception. However, we can choose what kind of mirror to look through, and the truest reflection is found through the lens in which God sees us. Life is a journey of balancing these different views, and at last in Chapter 3 the woman is shown as having a renewed way of describing herself. She speaks to her own strength as a border wall, and how she has become “[…] in his eyes like one bringing contentment”. Lastly, the woman states, “my own vineyard is mine to give”.
The teaching clearly had a large effect on the women of the event, as many were moved to reevaluate what lens they viewed themselves through, and how in this new season they may feel empowered to seek His lens first, how they may prosper their own fruit of transformation in their lives, and how they may seek to be a strong figure through the love of God. CBN hopes to bless more disenfranchised women throughout the country to begin a season of renewal in the Lord. It is through your support and partnership with CBN Israel that events for female empowerment such as this one can take place within the local Body of Messiah. From the CBN Israel staff and the beneficiaries we support, we say “thank you”!