Rounds and Squares

06 Jan

From the NakedPastor – Jan 4th 2013

We have had recently had some immigrants join our congregation.  We feel blessed to have them amongst us and look forward to learning from, and sharing with them in many ways.

Perhaps in another generation, when Australia was largely monocultural, we may not have been so welcoming.  Perhaps we may have felt uncomfortable with their food, their clothing, their grammatical mistakes.  Perhaps we may have been fearful if our children began to socialise with them, or even fell in love with them and wanted to marry.  How would we deal with the grandchildren?  Would they be Australian or would they feel foreign?

Today, we could be resentful, perhaps, about the jobs they have found, perhaps thinking that they are making it more difficult for Australians to find jobs.  However, we are not resentful and we wish them every success as they adapt to their chosen nation and worship community. We have embraced them and will do our best to assist them in any way we can, in order that they surmount the hurdles that a new, complex setting provides.

Is it not ironic that we can embrace people from a foreign culture, that we can take them into the heart of our Lutheran congregation, that our church building is theirs to explore and ask questions of, and yet we cannot take women into the heart of spiritual and pastoral care of our Church?  We hold that we are a welcoming Church, our street notice-boards present wise and loving statements, but underneath it all there are hidden rules that exclude the majority of our members from leadership.

This issue seems to be about the fear of offending God by doing the wrong thing.  Fear causes us to do strange things and affects our life for the worse.

When it’s fear of people, it’s complex.  Some societies, when dealing with fear of each other, specialise in institutionalising their fears into levels of class, rank or race.  These structures develop complicated philosophical justifications for their fears, which encases them into permanency.  We Australians are somewhat bemused by the English class system, and are distressed at the caste system of India and Apartheid South Africa, which are/were designed to justify the dehumanisation of lower castes.

In addition, we find that rank is used against women.  In these past few weeks since the brutal rape and murder of a young Indian medical student by six young men, we have learnt how women have been ‘othered’ in that country.   It seems that many in India had minimised the impact of rape on women, including whole communities, police and government.  It has taken this atrocity to (presumably) get action.

The Old Testament regulations reveals many fears around women, unmarried women, rape, veils, marriage, talking to strangers, appearing in public, testifying in court, walking in public, ownership of women … Is it a surprise that women were not allowed to become a priest? Today, for some reason, conservatives have chosen to focus on certain Old Testament practices, yet pay no attention to the many other rules that surrounded women.

It is simply absurd to hold that there is a fundamental difference between women and men in regards to ordination.  At this time, when we acknowledge that women are just as capable as men, the LCA looks increasingly mediaeval in its attitude to women.  What originated in ages past, perhaps in more violent tribal settings, can no longer be justified.

Taking action?
What is it that you might do?  Would you subscribe to and share this blog? Facebook? Twitter?   Would you write a letter?  Would you volunteer to be a delegate at General Convention? Would you write your own blog?  Would you form a discussion group in your own congregation to discuss what your congregation might do? (or you may just invite a friend for coffee to talk about possibilities)  Would you seek out others? Would you consider donating to a woman’s scholarship at ALC? (we are so numerous that every woman student there could receive a scholarship)

Share your suggestions for action as a comment below.


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5 responses to “Rounds and Squares

  1. Morven R. Baker

    January 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    This is a wonderful post. Bless you for continuing to slog through the mud, uphill, pulling along behind you emotionally battered & weary, yet very ‘called’, women. Praying for you all.

    • Katie and Martin

      January 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks Morven. There are so many gifted women just waiting to serve, yet they are constantly marginalised, trivialised and even demonised. Thanks so much for your support. Your comments are always heartening.

  2. Sandra Wittwer

    January 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    The final three paragraphs of my yesterday’s sermon referred to fear. Maybe they can be reinterpreted in response to this latest post.

    A rather different aspect to this story is the fear felt by King Herod and ‘all of Jerusalem’. This fear of the new king led Herod to order babies killed in Bethlehem. There’s a YouTube reference on the back of our pew sheets to an ominous version of We Three Kings, sung by Patti Smith, ensuring that we don’t forget the sort of world in which we really live. The world filled with crippling darkness is the one into which Jesus came to shed light. There is still infanticide today, for reason of gender, lifestyle or craziness. In the grip of fear we continue to make terrible decisions, and hurt ourselves and others. When we do this, does God love us still?

    When we hoard or covet or cheat or betray, through King Jesus we can cling to the promise that God, who sees into our hearts and minds, loves us deeply. Our bright Morning Star, Jesus, shines on, in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome that light.

    The travellers stepped out in faith, to find the one they were seeking. Let’s keep our eyes and ears and hearts open for God’s call. Let’s step out in faith, in the knowledge that our journey will take us to the feet of the one who loves us all. And that seeing our king is the reason for the journey. That’s the epiphany we seek. We want to see God. We want to see the real thing. It’s bound to mean change. By the grace of God, we have the will and courage and vulnerability to change.

    • Katie and Martin

      January 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

      One of those ‘God-incidences’. 🙂

      “The world filled with crippling darkness is the one into which Jesus came to shed light.” And still the darkness rests upon us in many ways. We seem to be stuck on Good Friday (just to vary the metaphor).


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