“So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse, and Abraham’s servant and his men.” Genesis 24:59
Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse died and was buried under the oak below Bethel. So it was named Allon Bacuth (oak of weeping).” Genesis 35:8
When I was a pilgrim on my first Lutheran Via de Cristo weekend, I was quite excited to be assigned to sit at the table of Deborah. After all, everyone has heard of Deborah, right? Deborah, the warrior, Deborah, the woman who was famous as a leader in a patriarchal society. What a role model! Who wouldn’t be honored to sit at her table?
However, my bubble was burst when I read the name card on the center of our table more closely. I discovered that I was not sitting at the table of Deborah the judge–I was sitting at the table of Deborah, the nursemaid. You probably don’t even know who she is — I didn’t. She is mentioned only twice in the Bible, and only once by name. Frankly, I was disappointed. I resolved that secretly, I would continue to think of my table as the table of Deborah the judge.
In the years since my weekend, I’ve had time to rethink that position. I’ve read the two references to Deborah and what comes between them. Do you realize that Deborah served Rebekah and her family for over eighty years? She must have been greatly loved and greatly mourned for her death to be noted at all. She was buried with honor under a venerable oak, symbol of long life.
When I think about it, I realize that as a leader, I’m a lot more like Deborah the nursemaid than Deborah the judge–in fact most Christians are. We may not be famous, but we can be faithful servants and examples to those around us.