Saturday, February 26, 2005

Equality and Equal Standing

Here is my first installment on church memories, which influenced me for good and calling me to live out Jesus’ commands.

During the Christmas Eve service back in December I noticed that all the acolytes were female. Tears welled up as I remembered the times I, too, served as an acolyte back in the 1970s. My oldest sister was the first female acolyte at my church. I followed in her footsteps several years later along with my middle sister. (For those unfamiliar with the liturgical worship service, acolytes assist the priest as they prepare the sacraments for Holy Communion. Acolytes also light the sanctuary candles, carry the financial offerings from the people to the priest, and present the crucifix during the processional.)

Anyway, as I watched those young ladies during the Christmas Eve service I was gratified to see females continuing to perform this service at the Lord's Table. I am grateful to have been raised in a church that allowed women to serve right beside men. From a relatively young age I saw the verse written by Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” lived out in practice. Galations 3:26-29

I married a man with courage and insight to question cultural teachings passed down through the generations regarding out-of-balance gender roles. I’m grateful for this. His intellect and adept logic keep me on my toes, yet he listens to me and learns from me as I do from him…equality and equal standing.

My mother and father also influenced my thinking regarding gender equality (probably more than they realize) though they would not describe themselves as feminists. Dad and I often discussed politics, economics, and religion. He encouraged me to pursue a career of my choice and erected no barriers based on my gender.

My mom taught me that Jesus was the first women’s liberator. Her comment now makes sense in retrospect as this was in the 70s during the modern feminist movement. Jesus’ respect of women was radical during the first century. He loved his women followers just as he did his male followers. He welcomed women into his midst, called them to follow him, touched them, conversed with them, healed them, ate with them, visited their homes, and received gifts from them. He also trusted a woman to be a reliable witness of his resurrection during a time when women were considered unreliable witnesses and easily deceived.

Doesn’t it seem that Jesus restored women’s dignity? He telegraphed a value statement, i.e. communicated value to them by his actions. He invited them to be at “his table” by eating with them, speaking to them, listening to them.

Respecting the value of both men and women and abolishing barriers that prevent each from fulfilling their life's mission seems a worthy cause and a foundational principle worth choosing.

4 comments:

grandma1 said...

Having been raised in a different religous group than yours. I was also taught that Jesus came to raise the status of women. I am of your parents generation but have always been my own person inside a marriage of 54 years. I hope I have raised childern to question all things and have their own relationship with God and not to accept anyone elses absolutes. This has caused my childern some problems as they don't fit into the Christian fundalism modes. It also now excludes my husband and myself from a church family that would be a comfort to us at this time. Not everyone that claims to be a Christian should be tared with the fundalism that is suppose to Christian at this time.

Monk-in-Training said...

I am proud and happy that my daughter has been raised in a Church of love where she can do anything she feels called to.

Totally different than my fundamentalist upbringing. In a local Fundamentalist Church my friend saw a lady read from the Bible, then start to expound a bit, and she was ordered to stop and leave the front of the church.

:(

SmallGlimpses said...

grandma1....thanks so much for posting a comment. I've also found it difficult to fit into certain circles as well. I don't fully understand why equality is so threatening, but I suppose these ideas challenge people's preconceived ideas of power and influence.

monk-in-training...thanks to you also. I also have a friend who from a very young age has felt a desire to preach. As a young girl she wrote sermons for the boys because her church didn't let women teach or preach. It's been very hard for her because she certainly doesn't want to cause division, but she's definately struggled and unsure how to make sense of all this.

Dr. Bruce Prescott said...

I hope you'll start posting again.

I enjoy reading your blogs.