I Don't Understand

Our pastor is a kind man who grew up in Sierra Leone. Tonight he recounted with grief the reaction of the Anglican church in England to women bishops. "Women bishops? They have a problem with this? With women preaching the Word of God? I just don't understand. I don't understand."

Well, I don't understand either why so many people oppose women preachers. Of all the things to be concerned about in the Church, why is it such a big issue?

In our small group tonight we discussed the broader meanings of the phrase "Thy will be done" in the Lord's Prayer. I noted that sometimes God's will can seem counter-cultural, even in your own church.

I gave the example of one church I attended, in which I discovered I had pastoral gifts. The trouble was, there were no female ministers in my church and the majority of the leadership believed women should not be on pastoral staff. I did not particularly feel called into the ministry, but I did want to nurture these gifts and see where they would lead. But if I had been called to be a pastor, I would have had to leave the church in order to lead.

The host tonight asked me how this felt. I said it was confusing. And after further reflection, I feel a bit betrayed. It was like some of the staff were patting me on the head, saying good for you, just don't get out of line. The host added that if in a similar situation he would feel oppressed. And I did.

It's hard to be honest about the deep ramifications of something like this, particularly when I have fond memories of this church and mean no ill will toward the staff. But I have to be honest in order to continue to heal.

I wanted to cry almost tonight, being in a room full of people who truly believe all people are capable and made in God's image. And when called, people should do God's will as preachers/pastors/bishops. Men and women.

So much energy the Church wastes on keeping people in their "proper" place! If all the sermons I've heard about what it means to be a "godly" (read: submissive, teach only other women, primarily wife/mother) woman had been spent on love and grace and justice, we'd be in a much better situation as a Church.

One woman tonight suggested that perhaps we had an impact at that church that we don't even know about. Maybe we were a pebble that created a ripple. And I believe we might have been. I'd rather be a boulder that smashes hierarchy. But I'll settle for the pebble, gently spurring a collective examination.

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