When you were at school did you get asked to remember that how each one of us behaved, showed the world what our school was like? I remember thinking this was quite wrong really, and also resented as the oldest of three, the assumption that discrepancy I might have, would be instantly mimicked by my two siblings (according to my mum), and felt this meant my role was actually harder than theirs… so unfair etc..
Today I was listening to Claire Balding talk about the service at St Paul’s Cathedral celebrating 20 years of women vicars. I am really proud that my mum was part of the 700 women who were ordained in 1994, and so proud that she was part of this huge occasion. She was part of the service led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and a woman deacon, and being celebrated as a pioneer.
I think for Mum the fact that she was not only a role model for the church, but also for women in the church must have been really hard. As a teenager I don’t think I was at all interested, but at times the church has been downright unhelpful and she’s had to carry on being that “beacon” without the support she really needed from her congregation. For example at times members of her congregation challenged her ability to make decisions and she was told she couldn’t apply for certain positions in the Church of England. Her experience is sadly not uncommon, however she has paved the way with her generation of Rev Ladies, in making it more normal for congregations to have gender equality in their leadership teams.
On Radio 2, the discussion also came up that as the Church of England with all the resources we have in this country, the rest of the world look to us. Women in developing countries who have no rights, and face sex slavery, rape, and no support from their local church to challenge this, look to us to pioneer women’s rights and equalities, as otherwise there is no hope.
As Christians all of us are expected to try and act for God in maintaining the world as a wonderful place to live, and to act as stewards for his creation. We all struggle to do this of course, but in any walk of life, we need to somehow bring back a bit of Eden whenever possible, either as good role models for our friends and family, or as leaders in our communities, or even just by being eco-friendly when we buy tomatoes (nicked from Sam Tyndall’s sermon this morning!).
A picture someone shared with me this week was of us as a painting, a work of art, or a real show-piece, which we can’t really appreciate because we are not “looking down on creation”, we are in the painting and don’t have the full birds-eye view. Things that look pretty rubbish to us, may be spectacular from the other side of the room (so to speak).
I am with trepidation going to preach on the 18th May at St Paul’s 8.45am service, and hope God uses this in a positive way. I’ve decided however full of holes my tapestry of life is, God is pretty adept at darning, and can support me in this task.
Genesis 1 v26-29
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule overthe fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.