I have always loved this passage from Luke: I love the image of the tired friend shouting out the door to leave him alone because he is already in bed. And I love that the man will not back down. Only through this annoying, persistent pleading does the man get the friend to finally get up and help him. From the friend’s perspective, the man is annoying and troublesome, but for the man, he just keeps pushing until his friend does the right thing.
Too often we are unlike the man knocking at the door. We worry about asking for help or bothering someone, and so we go without or we suffer. We become paralyzed by the fear of rejection, so we cannot even knock on the door. Or, at the first sign of adversity, we back off. We do not want to be rejected twice, and so we scurry away. We are unwilling to do what our gospel lesson encourages – to ask, to search, or to knock – even though Jesus promises that when we ask, it will be given to us; and when we seek, we will find, and when we knock, the door will be opened for us. Despite those promises, we find ourselves lost in fear.
That is why today we celebrate Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Amelia Bloomer, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Ross Tubman. Truthfully, each woman deserves her own feast day. Elizabeth helped organize the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, and she challenged the church for using Scripture to oppress women. Amelia, known for wearing pants – a scandal at the time – also challenged the church for its manipulation of Scripture to oppress women. Sojourner, born as a slave, became a voice for the oppression of not just women, but black women especially. She fought for women’s rights and for abolition, even speaking at Elizabeth’s Women’s Rights Convention, where she gave her famous speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Harriet, also born a slave, not only escaped slavery, but also returned to free more than 300 people. She too navigated the fight both for women and for African-Americans. I suppose the reason our lectionary combines these extraordinary witnesses is because these women had no fear of asking, no opposition to searching, and no hesitation about knocking. They were just like the man in our gospel lesson today who just kept at it until his friend did the right thing.
Today we are invited into that boldness. We are invited to let go of whatever holds us back and to ask, to search, and to knock. Jesus promises all will be given to us, all will be found, and all will be answered. Amen.