Saturday, 24 November 2012

we ordain women because we baptise girls...

The thesis is, rightly, giving me little time to do anything else at the moment; I am immersed in the performances of penitential Protestants and desperately trying to write up.  I did pause, however, the other day to follow the live feed on the discussion and vote for/ against women being ordained as bishops in the CofE.

While I am not Anglican, I am grieving for friends who are - and for those in particular who are training for, or have been ordained into, the priesthood.  I never did quite understand why this was not sorted out when women were allowed to become priests in the CofE 20-odd years ago - by 2 votes I believe.  Then again, I have never managed to quite get my head around the fact that women being called to ministry is an issue - given 50ish% of humanity are women.   We ordain women because we baptise girls...!

The strange technicalities of voting meant that while an overwhelming majority voted in favour of allowing women to become bishops, the motion fell by just 6 votes; each of the three 'houses' needing to have a two thirds majority, which was not what happened in the house of laity.  I was reminded of our own arcane ways and processes: of motions proposed at General Assembly and sent down under the Barrier Act, that come back with a resounding 'no' a year later, this often based on the will of tiny presbyteries of 6 or 10 or 12 parishes who have the same power as larger presbyteries of 50, 80, or over 100 parishes within them. 

While I am not always convinced that the church should bring things in on a majority vote, neither am I convinced by the checks and balances that have been put in place with the (rightly so) intent to safeguard against whim, to ensure folk with different views don't get trodden on, etc.  What I am more convinced about, however, is that the systems in place within our institutions are set up in a default position that mitigates against bringing any kind of change.
No system put in place will please everyone; no system is perfect.
And yet, despite our flawed systems and institutions which seem to be built as monuments to fear, God still manages to manoeuvre between the cracks despite our 'best' intentions to stymie things.
I wonder what building systems based on trust would look like, and how they might work? 
Systems designed to work with God and each other in generous grace and mutuality and without the fear that needs to control who is in, who is out, and who gets to make the rules?

In the meantime, came across this courtesy of a friend, which is as fitting a response to what occurred within the CofE this week as I have seen:
When I am ordained, I shall wear purple
with killer heels and bright red lipstick
And I shall go round preaching from the Bible
...The liberating truth that Jesus calls women
and tell those who say otherwise that it is they,
not I, who are bad theologians.

I shall sit down with fellow clergy
when we are tired of fighting for equality
and going the extra mile with grace when we are put down,
And we will make up for it:
by encouraging one another as Scripture says,
and praying for those who abuse us,
and rejoicing that we are suffering
(but just a little bit) for Jesus,
And we might even eat some chocolate.

I will adopt the ordination name “Junia”,
and remind those who object,
that there may be a boy named Sue somewhere in the world,
but there probably isn’t.

But now we must face the world,
Who think we are traitors to our sex
For working for the Church
And face our brothers and sisters who think
We are being unbiblical
And face those in our Churches
who have failed to notice the pain this week has brought.
And we will go in the strength of Christ.
We will not turn our backs on our calling
Because God is not finished with the Church,
And He is faithful.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am ordained, and start to wear purple.

by Rev Mia Smith