Well, because

Back in the parish this morning at our cafe, I chatted to a lot of different people about the Women Bishops Measure vote.  I was touched by the care, concern and support I received.  

I was also heartened by the voice of opposition who said “No, I don’t want women bishops, can’t stand them.”  
“Why not?” I asked.  “What don’t you like about them?” Parish life is a wonderful place where relationships grow and develop and allow that kind of question to be asked… and the voice of opposition was very happy to tell me.    
“Well, because it’s what you grow up with, isn’t it?  And another thing, if everyone called children children not kids then they’d behave a lot better, and show some respect.” 
With that, the voice of opposition was lost in a cacophony of replies, all about the kids of today.

Heartened because the voice of opposition would have said the same about women priests, but accepts communion at my hands quite happily.  Heartened because that’s the most common opposition of all, to anything…the fear of change, the dread of the loss of the old, the concern of the move to the new.  Heartened because this opposition isn’t about theology.  And, to be honest, heartened because the voice of opposition was on its own, in that context, in that place.

But last night, someone suggested to me that I am much less accepted than I think I am, that I minister in this context on sufferance.  This shocked me far more than the voice of oppostion did today.  But I have to listen to the voice, whether I like it or not.

On Sunday we are doing listening in the sermon spot.  We are handing out post-its and asking people to write their thoughts and feelings about the vote.  We are going to gather them and offer them to God.  And then some of us will read them.  

I predict a great deal of bewilderment, anger, grief and support.  I predict a few voices that I don’t want to hear.  And then the hard work of listening and building relationship will begin, without any doubt about “I think that they think”.  At least, I hope so.   

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6 responses to “Well, because

  1. I wonder? You suggest that some of the opposition is grounded in the fear of change and of things new. But women have been Priests for 20 years or so now, is that really new in the context of how fast life moves these days.

    When I came to the CofE in 2008, I had never met a woman priest. Having been a Catholic, where the male autocracy is overpoweringly paternal, I just accepted that this was the norm. But the first female priest that I met was an NSM filling doing a locum in a BCP service and after my initial surprise, I had the opportunity to have a long chat with her and realised that my surprise had been a knee jerk reaction, not on based on reason or prejudice. Just lack of knowledge.

    After all, I had seen women liberated from subordinate roles in the Army over my career, until in 2000 I met my first female RSM and a two years later my CO was female. I had adjusted to that, because I knew that it was coming and that it was only fair that females deserved to be respected and treated on exactly the same basis as men. We were all soldiers, doing the same job – full stop.

    The lady, Chris, was wonderfully understanding when I explained that I was new to the Church and had never met a female as a priest before. I know that she must have observed my double take and had the grace to see that it was just my ignorance of the situation, not my prejudices. I was like a light going on in my mind. Women were now recognised in the Church as well! 🙂 At that time, I didn't understand that they couldn't be bishops.

    When I learned more about the situation I was outraged that women could still be considered second class by anyone, let alone in The Church of Christ. But sadly, I soon saw that the only way forward was by negotiation and compromise.

    I now wonder if as they have said “We've all been to nice”. Perhaps we should have demanded a single clause measure, voted for it and than allowed the Holy Spirit to take us forward. They did it in the USEC and they now have a woman as Presiding Bishop.
    Certainly, I believe that reform of General Synod is needed as a matter of urgency. Packing it with militant anti-women representatives must cease.

    I hope that your sermon service goes well. There is a lot of pain about, and I still feel a reflective anger that this could have happened. I need more peaceful prayer, and perhaps some action to get over it.

  2. Thanks for your graciousness in inviting people to express their thoughts and feelings despite the risk of vulnerability. A cathartic post it note! is a great healthy, God centred idea. Will be praying for you on Sunday and always, a similarity we both share is certainly a pioneering path. Deb

  3. Thanks for your thoughts. Julia and I were so upset when we heard the outcome. We have a weekend away giving us time to reflect and to pray away from the busyness of our own parishes. There are many hurt people out there from both sides of the divide so my first prayer is for healing and for unity.

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