Sunday, December 31, 2006
Matt is going to talk brilliantly and wonderfully this evening about the Incarnation so all I want to do this morning, in a very low key way, is offer some scattered and refracted thoughts of my own. And I would like to do this through the prism of this morning’s Collect, which you can find in your bulletin. Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. Collects, for those of you who are new to the church, generally follow a formula—it’s a good way to pray out loud if you’re worried about what to say. You address God—O Eternal God—you say something about him—who makes all things—you ask some thing relating to your description—so renew us by your power—and then you bring in the trinity—through the Son and the Spirit Amen. That’s the formula. Our collect for this morning rearranges the ingredients but we get the same result at the end. First, God is called Almighty. That means bigger than everything here, in control, sovereign, able to do all things. Second, in the ‘description’ part, we find out that the Son, Jesus, will be coming. “that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming…” Most of us make the wild mistake, in Advent, of believing that we’re waiting and waiting—lighting the candles on the Advent wreath, abstaining from flowers on the altar and Christmas music—that we’re waiting for Jesus to be born. I even heard it from a preacher on the radio the other day—here we are waiting for Jesus to be born. Well, that’s not what we’re waiting for. Jesus has already been born. He was born once. He’s not going to be born again.We’re actually waiting, in Advent and in every other season, for Jesus to come back. Before he died, rose and ascended into heaven Jesus promised to come back at the right moment. If you’ve read the book of Revelation, you will know that when Jesus comes back he will judge. He will eradicate evil from the earth and restore all of creation, us included, to himself. He will get rid of every bad thing—all pain and suffering—and it will be wonderful for us who believe in him and have been called to be in his family. But it hasn’t happened yet, right. We’re still waiting. We wait and hope That, third, “at his coming, he may find in us a mansion prepared for himself”. When I am expecting company I usually go into a tail spin. First of all, I never have enough time, so I’m in a rush. And because I’m in a rush, I have to prioritize. So the bedroom doesn’t get touched. In fact, all the clutter and junk from the rest of the house gets dumped in the bedroom. And then I race around vacuuming the parts of the rug that you can see and trying to create a veneer of order and beauty. But if you look under the surface you will find that the house is still really a mess. I have a neighbor who comes over three or four times a week? So for her, unfortunately, I don’t even clean any more. I might clear off the coffee table but I won’t vacuum. So my neighbor might see my house filthy one day and then sort of picked up the next. Well, this is not the kind of preparation we’re aiming for. First of all, along with the fact that Jesus is coming back, we find that we’re being ‘daily visited’ by God—by your daily visitation. When you become a Christian, when you put your faith and trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and the redemption of your whole self, as we’ve said over and over, the Holy Spirit comes and lives inside of you. In other words, God, the Holy Spirit is going to see you every day—every moment in fact. So God is going to see you when you are a mess and he’s going to see you when you kind of have things pulled together. But you won’t be able to fool him either way. You weren’t fooling him before you were a Christian, given that God is Almighty, he can see everything and knows the state of every human heart So trying to come to church and pretend, to God and to everyone else, that everything was fine and you didn’t have any problems doesn’t work. But now that you’re a Christian, you’re going to feel it acutely when things aren’t sorted out God is not going to let you feel comfortable in your sins That’s what ‘purify our conscience’ means. The Holy Spirit moves in and says, wow, this is a mess. Let me get a broom, all this dirt has got to go. And gradually, and sometimes painfully, he cleans away the dirt and sin and brokenness and hurt and makes you beautiful, inside. I say painful because it takes a long time, and sometimes a dirty house can be kind of comfortable—familiar, easy. Getting up and cleaning it is hard. This is most acute for me on the question of pride. I would like to be perfect. And I would like God to notice how perfect I am. Ridiculous, isn’t it? You can see clearly that I am not perfect. I foul things up all the time. Nevertheless, it’s a source of frustration and discouragement to me, in my humanness that I’m not perfect and this desire, to be perfect, this desire is like dust. Every time I turn around, there it is again. And then the Holy Spirit walks through and says, wow, it’s horribly dusty in here. Let’s clean this up. The big question is why. Why do we need our conscience purified? We get the answer in the second line that he, Jesus, may find a ‘mansion prepared for himself’. Why on earth would he want that? Isn’t heaven good enough? Why does he want us to be like a mansion, prepared for him?
Very simple, because God, Jesus, loves us more than we can possibly imagine. From before time, from before the foundation of the world, God knew you, knew what you would be like, and wanted you to be in his family. And this being the case, he doesn’t want bad things for you. He doesn’t want you to be small and lean of soul. Just like you wouldn’t want someone you love to make a mess of their lives. But because he is merciful, God doesn’t swoop in and rearrange everything in your life all at once. He takes his time, he works with you, he works on you, he goes room by room, cupboard by cupboard, putting things in order. It’s a long, sometimes difficult process, but one not without consolation. Today is both Advent 4—we’re still waiting—and Christmas Eve. So in one fell swoop we get to concentrate on the hope by which we live—that Jesus is coming back, this present evil will not last for ever—and the grace that sustains us—both Jesus in his body and blood and the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. These two—grace and hope—mean that the Christian person, you when you have the Holy Spirit, go from being a mess—sinful and broken—to being made whole—forgiven, healed. That is, you, as a person, beloved of God, go from being small and narrow and impoverished, to being expansive and rich and beautiful in your heart and soul. The more room you give God in your life, the more work he can do in you. Let’s close with this prayer again, pray with me: Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Well, all you fascinated and curious coffee drinkers, That Is Not a Cup of Tea.
Second, it has to be prepared properly (see below).
Fill a tea kettle or hot pot with cold water. Turn it on. Let it come right up to the boil. Take it off. Pour some blazing hot water into a pot. Swirl it around. Let the pot become good and hot. Put the kettle back on. Dump the water out of the pot. Put in the tea (loose, of course, is best, but don’t be above a good bag—At Least Two for a full sized pot, probably more if it’s bad tea). When the Kettle is back up to the boil, pour it directly onto the tea. Clap the lid on Immediately (don’t leave the lid across the room and wander around looking for it while the tea becomes cold). Put a cozy on the pot or wrap it in a couple of kitchen towels. Let it sit for about 3 minutes. Drink it. Either with milk or milk and sugar or lemon. Whatever you do, don’t heat water a little bit and the pour it on a bag in a cup. If you’re going to do that just go ahead and drink water.
And now, in honor of our good late President Ford, I will go and make a pot of my own and drink it all myself. Goodnight.
Friday, December 29, 2006
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 /12 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 Tablespoons melted butter
And then a well buttered pan. I admit, I really went for the butter last night. I’m on holiday. I’m not going to skimp. But I ought, because I think I’m starting to look like I’ve been eating butter for several days. Matt is unfailingly disciplined. He ate a large bowl of bark like fiber this morning with water like milk on top. He continues to wake up every morning at 4 am in order to exercise and pray. I know it’s very holy of him, but it makes the rest of us look bad and we’re beginning to wish he would stop it. However, we’re not complaining loudly because he came shopping yesterday, providing a much needed calming male presence, producing good obedience in the hoards of children which surround us. I’ll let you know how the book store turns out. As usual, it could be one of the worst mornings of our lives, or, it could be a reasonable amount of good fun. Am keeping expectations at the bottom of the sea—we can only go up from there.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Sweet Potatoes-peeled, cubed, lathered in olive oil and baked at 350 until fork tender and golden (plus salt and pepper).
Chicken in mushroom cream sauce with a lacing of sherry
Various bottles of wine.
Must now go to bed and hope for the best.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
But I hold with Matt's + pessimism. We've talked and talked. We've been respectfully coridal. We've analyzed the letters and papers and statements. What more is there to do? Wait for the parousia before acting? Enough.
Don't have the stomach to go read the crowing and delight in liberal land today. Will keep plugging away at these wretched bulletins and try to think of something lovely to say about Jesus for tomorrow.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Everywhere I go—on the web, in my class, at coffee hour—someone is having pain over this Anglican crisis. Probably I’m tired because revisionists chalk conservatism up to ‘fear’ and ‘discomfort’ and ‘inflexibility’. When really, the present theological crises have nothing to do with fear at all, and neither are they causing me pain in the way most revisionists would believe.
If a whole church wants to head down the wide, broad, candy laden road to apostasy, fine. Go ahead. Go after all the bright shiny self indulgent liberal gobbeldy gook. If the church wants to elect a leader that cannot reasonably and coherently confirm the creeds, articles of the faith OR even the minutest understanding of Christianity, well then, go ahead. If the church wants to vilify and persecute the few remaining believing people, then bring it on.
But do not then expect me to get weepy and choked up over all the carnage and mayhem.
I am not afraid. I am not inflexible and unable to change or uncomfortable with diversity. I am just sorry and sad. I am sad that I am still part of a church where the biggest sin is belief in God. I am sad that the people who control this church do not havea basic understanding of what is at stake. I am sad that the head of this church can still be talking about ‘reconciliation’ and ‘peace’ and hey, why not throw in ‘the Magic of Christmas’, when all around her the church is a crumbled, decaying mess.
And I’m sick of the dripping gooey condescension. This, for example, from Telling Secrets:
However, there are two additional groups, and these two are far less noticed. I refer to these groups (they don't have a clear "party" identity) as "progressive pilgrims" and "emergent conservatives." These two groups tend to see "issues" like this one as secondary concerns to the practice of Christian faith and are more concerned with things like hospitality, living forgiveness, practicing reconciliation, learning to pray, feeding the hungry, caring for the environment, and maintaining the Anglican practice of comprehensiveness (being a church of the "middle way"). They may lean slightly left or slightly right on "issues," but reject partisan solutions to theological problems. Both progressive pilgrims and emergent conservatives are far more interested in unity than uniformity, and they appreciate diversity in their congregations as a sign of God's dream for humanity to live in peace.
I took a class with Diana Butler-Bass. This condescension and misunderstanding of the issues is all of a piece. That’s right, let’s not talk about belief and faithfulness and obedience to Christ. Let’s all just get along. How creative. How new. How deep.
So, in the ‘spirit of Christmas’ and because under (today) my overt hostility there abides some small sense of compassion and mercy (obviously coming from the Holy Spirit) I offer the following advice to KJS, Diana Butler-Bass and all those revisionists who are casting about for some meaning and purpose in what appears to be a directionless void:
The current crisis is not about unity. It’s not about fear. It’s not about extremism. It’s not about ‘reconciliation’. It’s not even about you. It’s about Jesus. God came down to earth, in the person of the Son, and lived and died and rose again so that you might be dragged out of the wretched mire of your sins. Wake up. Pay attention. Time is running out. Jesus is coming back. You could still be babbling about ‘reconciliation’ and find yourselves unreconciled to God when it really counts.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
For two reasons.
One, I’m sinfully vain and Two, I love clothes.
This stems, and I’ve examined myself thoroughly on this point, from having every furlough to, after stepping off the airplane, go straight to the Burlingame Baptist Church Missionary Barrel. It wasn’t actually a Barrel. It was a whole room filled with all kinds of things missionaries would need—sheets, towels, pots, pans, toys, AND, you guest it, clothes, but not clothes that had been worn recently, or were being worn. They were all at least 10 or 15 years old which means that any female child aged between 10 and 20 would be mortified to have to wear any of them in public, especially an unknown public which was everywhere—school, church, the grocery store, anyone’s house, even, frankly, the privacy of one’s own room. I remember the acute horror of arriving for the first day of sixth grade in clothes from this very Missionary Barrel. Not only were they modest and ‘feminine’, as in bright purple, they were not at all what anyone else was wearing. Alpha girl, named providentially, ‘Charity’, looked me over with disdain and sniffed her nose. It was just down hill from there with her.
But I survived. And part of surviving has been developing a real appreciation of nice clothes—a really well cut suit, a beautiful pale blue wool skirt (A Line), with fabulous boots, or (for vacuuming and baking bread) a plunging neckline, pearls, and stiletto heals (I don’t actually wear my house work attire out, for those of you who might worry).
I know I’m sacrificing holiness for vanity. I do it every morning when I spend a full half an hour hot rollering my hair and being very careful about the even application of mascara. But I have a hard time concentrating on real life when I look cruddy. I don’t enjoy church, for instance. I spend time worrying that my shoes are the wrong shape instead of confessing my sins. Or I forget things on my grocery list when I know that my hair is wrong and my hand bag is wrong. Better to take the time to make sure that the bag and hair are right and come away with a full week of groceries.
May God have mercy in my weakness, but I hope and pray that in the coming kingdom, when Jesus comes back and the whole of creation will know and confess him, I will look fabulous, and so will everyone else.
Monday, December 18, 2006
The Family Stone failed utterly as a movie because it staked everything—its plot, script, character development, even (though I know nothing about it) filming—on a failed Liberal System.
The perfectly liberal and unnaturally diverse family consisting of:
-one traditionally married to absent husband, with one child in tow and expecting another
-one single, unpleasant and ‘whitty’
-achieving business person son,
-deaf gay son with black gay boyfriend in tow.
Mother dying of breast cancer.
Father perfectly sensitive and submissive to will of everyone in the family, always reacting, never acting.
achieving business person son brings girl friend home for Christmas (or should I say ‘the holidays’). Family instantly and righteously rejects girlfriend for following reasons:
Appearance—slicked back hair, stilettos, new york veneer
Awkwardness—speaks too loudly to deaf gay son, doesn’t know how to sign, questions gayness of son, questions desire of gay couple to adopt child, refuses to sleep with boy friend in house of his parents, “Why won’t you sleep with your friend?” asks wise visionary peace loving child, insists on cooking breakfast for above described perfectly diverse family, eventually moves into a hotel because family is so awful to her
Racism—questions desire of gay couple to adopt black child rather than white one (who even does that any more?)
And finally, and most importantly, is rejected for having beautiful and loveable sister who is immediately and unquestioningly embraced by perfectly diverse family.
By the end I was completely fed up. Everyone had changed “partners” and been awful to each other. They had all made moralizing and righteously outraged speeches to each other. And none of it was funny. The icing on the cake was a scene of Diane Keaton (mother) gazing out of the window at the snow falling followed by scene of family gazing at Christmas tree. Ah, there’s the meaning we were all looking for—the snow is falling. Look guys! The snow is falling.
Liberalism in this age is a failure. Tolerance is not an acceptable replacement for respect, honor and good old fashioned love. Nostalgia is not substantive enough to replace belief in and obedience to God. Bad behavior and manners, however “morally motivated” are never appropriate.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Paul said some very difficult things about women: “the women should keep silent in the churches” (1 Corinthians 14:34); “every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head” (1 Corinthians 11:5); “wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5:24). These pithy statements, whether dragged out of context or considered in the light of the whole Pauline corpus, make women and men uncomfortable in this century. These statements and others like them are therefore left, to a large degree, in a category by themselves, hopefully not to be noticed, or, when noticed, explained away with a quick exegetical twist. I myself have struggled with these admonitions and many others, both as I discerned a call to ordained ministry and now more so, as a married woman.
These three texts run against the grain of the culture in which I find myself. They are countercultural now in precisely the opposite way they were written, a time when women were not accorded even the most basic of human rights we now find so indispensable. I trust that the author, at the time of writing, was not intending to damage or otherwise degrade the lot of anyone, women included. But that belief does not change the reality that in the shifting of ages, times and understandings, these words have helped to keep women tied essentially to the home, and now present a stumbling block for many when they consider Christianity on its face. At the same time, as I read these lines over and over, I find a lovely movement, back and forth, in the duties of the man for the woman, the woman for the man. It is in the context of a life lived in submission and obedience to Christ and the joy discovered therein, that I consider Ephesians 5:22-33.
Ephesians is attributed to Paul, and while there has been doubt about his actual authorship (Brown 621, Mertz 113), NT Wright argues afresh for Pauline authorship of both Ephesians and Colossians (18-19). Pauline authorship requires an early date (60-62), during his house arrest in Rome (Dahl 1212). Ephesians does not address a particular controversy or heresy but rather addresses the new defining context of the Church over the world. Ephesians 5 addresses the relationships of men and women using the ancient but reworked household code. From Aristotle onwards various codes of conduct, or household codes, were available and normative.
Witherington notes the similarity of Jewish, Greek and Christian codes, particularly in their “patriarchal orientation” (44). That is, the formulators of household codes, at the time of Paul’s writing, took for granted the centrality of the man or husband as leader and center of his family and household. The household extended to include immediate family, extended family, slaves, servants and those enjoying the patronage of the father. It was the most basic unit of society at that time.
The code in Ephesians is one of seven in the NT. Annette Merz asserts that Ephesians 5 was written as a corrective to 2 Corinthians 11 which, she believes, had led to a devaluation of the married state among women. Ephesians 5:22-33 reordered women back to marriage and made the new church more acceptable to the surrounding culture.
Ian McFarland, on the other hand, argues for a “Canonical Reading” of Ephesians 5, whereby “biblical unity is the interpreter’s starting point” (346). A canonical reading does not allow that Ephesians 5 is a corruption of “some more pristine form of the gospel” but does consider the “devastating impact it has had on the lives of women in the church” (McFarland 347). More importantly, McFarland suggests that Ephesians 5 “offers a fully developed argument for gender hierarchy in consistently Christological terms” (347). In other words, the use of the household code is not a capitulation to the surrounding culture of the day or an effort to make Christianity more palatable, but rather a reordering of all Christian relationships in both Christological and eschatological terms.
Ephesians describes the church in seven ways—as a new humanity, a colony, a community of transformed people, a new temple, an organism, an outpost in a dark world, and finally as a bride (ESV Study Bible 12-4). McFarland notes that Ephesians chapters 1-3, as a doxology, “provide the theological warrant for three chapters of instruction” (347). Ephesians 5:22-33 develops the theme of marriage as the outward sign of the mystical relationship between Christ and the Church. It is practically structured as part of a household code, but contains the culminating theological image of the letter, the relationship of Christ to the Church.
Form, Structure, Movement
Ephesians varies from the usual Pauline style in that it does not address particular persons or controversies (Dahl 1212). Some scholars believe the book is “best understood as a summary of Paul’s teachings”, but it might also be an introduction to Paul’s collected letters or “a meditation on the theme of Christ and the Church” (Dahl 1212).
Arguably (Mertz disagrees, 132), Ephesians 5:22-33 hinges on verse 21, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ,” which sets the context of mutual love and submission, not just of members in the church, but of members of a family. McFarland maintains, however, that grammatically speaking the argument begins in verse 18 with an imperative upon which hang a series of commands. The whole thought is carried through into verse 23 and concludes with verse 24 (350).
The Household code begins in verse 22, verses 22-24 dealing with the submission of the wife to the husband, in the same way that the Church submits to Christ. The bulk of the text, verses 25-32 deals with the love of the husband for the wife, as Christ loved the Church. This kind of love is examined in detail and finally related to the Mystery of the Church itself. Verses 26-27, however, relate particularly to Christ and the Church, from which analogies to marriage are afterwards drawn (vs. 28-31) (Witherington 55).
Verse by Verse
The verb, “be subject” in verse 21 carries over into 22 as an imperative, rather than an indicative. F. F. Bruce notes that the pronoun ‘own’ does not require special emphasis and would have been ‘a feature of household codes’ (384). Verse 22 sets the context for the wife’s submission—to the Lord. Verse 23 explains/describes this submission in terms of headship. “Head,” in this setting is understood both as ‘source’ or ‘origin’ (Genesis 2:21-24) and ‘authority’ (Bruce 37). There is no particular need to extend the ‘saving’ work of Christ to the husband further than that of protector (Bruce 385). McFarland notes further that, ‘By setting of a wife’s subordination from the model of the church’s subordination to Christ as a savior, verse 24 implicitly acknowledges that the wife’s subordination is not a function of the husband being the wife’s savior. (351)” In verse 24 the church so obviously submits to Christ in everything that the argument easily carries forward—wives submit in everything to their husbands.
From thence forward the author addresses husbands, relating their role to self sacrificing work of Christ as that of the woman as related to the submission of the Church. Verse 26 is clearly related to the cleansing water of baptism, jointly with the sanctifying nature of the word, but the image draws in the ‘cleansing bath’ a bride received before being dressed in ‘bridal array’. The work of Christ continues in 27 where he presents the Church to himself. In this case Christ does the saving (vs. 23), the cleanser (vs. 26), and the presenter (vs. 27).
The commandment to love ‘as their own bodies’ (vs. 28) derives directly from Leviticus 19:18 but is brought closer and intensified by Genesis 2:24 (Bruce 391). Verses 29 and 30 further extend and concretize the image—nourishing, cherishing, membership—finally binding them completely in Genesis 2:24 “the two shall become one flesh.” Finally, in a move almost to offset the material nature of the previous verses, he brings it back into the spiritual realm, “This mystery is profound” (vs. 32). McFarland argues that the placement of verse 32 moves the significance of the marriage bond from creation to “the eschatological reality of Christ and the church (356).” The whole is, then, summarily reduced in verse 33, to the love of the husband for the wife, and the respect of the wife for the husband.
Christ has a spiritual and intangible relationship to the Church, but one that is necessarily lived concretely day to day in the lives of ordinary Christians. This relationship is the norm, the context for all other relationships. So defining is it that the most basic of human relationships, marriage between a man and woman, can on one hand be elevated to describe the relationship between God and his people, and, then recast, on the other hand, spiritually through the language of baptism, salvation, sanctification, and creation.
Further, the salvific and sanctifying work of Christ, particularly in his actions as a servant, an obedient Son, and as the sacrificial victim, provide a new and counter cultural paradigm for the Christian person over against the prevailing paradigm in the world—that of self fulfillment and consumerism. Whereas in the world, relationships may be viewed contractually and for a time—as long as they are fulfilling—in the church relationships are characterized by self-sacrifice, service and grace.
This self sacrifice orients the husband and wife towards each other practically. The husband is commanded to love, to give the gift that is needed most. The wife is commanded to respect and honor, likewise a gift freely given regardless of merit. The wife requires love. The husband requires respect. And so, through the overarching work of Christ, the needs of both are met.
The task is only impossible or restrictive without the aid of Christ, who, in submission to the Father, sacrificed himself for the church. The Christian in first submitting to Christ, is then able to submit, out of love, to others. Without the work of Christ, Ephesians 5:22-33 not only becomes impossible to achieve, it becomes impossible to understand.
Men and women are different from each other. They are ordered differently, they have different world views, different ways of communicating and different means of being. These differences are reflected in Ephesians 5:22-33. While the text contains admonitions—submit, honor, love, sacrifice—it is also descriptive. Homes around the world are ordered and divided along gender lines. But this description, this similarity, cannot be taken for granted.
In my own life, because of the cultural impact this text and the others like it have had, I had to discover the love of God for me as a woman, not the imperfect love of a man for a woman, but the perfect transcending love of God for me as I am in myself. It also meant marrying a man who would share every aspect of himself with me—work, worship, children, the care and upkeep of the household—a man worthy of my respect and honor.
As I considered this text and my own life, I discovered on one hand a need for what is given and commanded. I need a husband who will love me. On the other hand I recognized that this man, whom I love, accepts a less traditional ordering of the home. He participates fully in the life of the household, and I participate fully in the life and work of the church. It is therefore my choice to submit to him in all things. This choice is based on his continual sacrifice of himself for me. These two choices, to submit and to sacrifice, are lived out in the context of daily submission and obedience to Christ, Christ who overpowers and overshadows me with his love.
Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
Bruce, F.F. The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Michigan:
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984.
Dahl, Nils Alstrup. “Ephesians,” Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper San
McFarland, Ian A. “A Canonical Reading of Ephesians 5:21-33: Theological Gleanings.”
Theology Today. 57.03 (2006): 344-356.
Mertz, Annette. “Why did the Pure Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:2) Become a Wedded Wife (Eph.
5:22-33)? Theses about the intertextual transformation of an ecclesiological metaphor.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament. 79.1 (2006): 131-147.
The Reformation Study Bible. Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 2005.
Witherington, Ben, III. Women in the Earliest Churches. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Wright, N.T. Fresh Perspectives on Paul. London: SPCK Publishing, 2005.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
His Father said, Hast thou only one minute? Hem it with quietness. Do not spend it in thinking how little time thou hast. I can give thee much in one minute.
Then the sun remembered the Jewish tradition about the manna and the dew. The manna fell on the dew, they said, then more due fell on the manna so that it was found between two layers of dew. And the thought of the quietness of the dew and how far it was removed from bustle of any kind. And he understood the word that his Father had spoken to him.
-His thoughts said...His Father said...
Monday, December 11, 2006
I am constantly explaining to the women of Good Shepherd (and the men too when I can get them to pay attention) that life needs to be properly ordered. God comes first, then one’s husband, then one’s children, then you come last. Same thing with the church—church comes first, then other activities. So, for example, Sunday School should come before soccer practice and games, or, in this case, wrestling (since that seems to be the sport of the season). And, I say in all spiritual confidence, if your life is properly ordered, you should not be over extended. You should have Enough—enough time, enough money, enough food, whatever it is, you should have enough.
And the women of the church either nod and agree (because they’re trying to order things correctly), or nod and slightly purse their lips because they think I’m full of it.
But this weekend I worked and worked and worked and found that I came up empty. There wasn’t enough time. There were too many things that I had to keep track of.
*I have to get the bulletin out. This involves making seasonal adjustments to the liturgy, periodically changing the Eucharistic Prayer, rotating through prayers of the people, AND, at the church, for Advent, adding in an extra weird little prayer for the lighting of the Advent Candles. Well, I’m not used to this little tradition and I foul it up every year. We can’t remember to stop, after processing in, and light the candle and read the prayer. Matt usually just ploughs on into the collect and Gloria (or whatever). And then I can see various people glaring at the wreath—It hasn’t been Lit! It hasn’t been Lit! Well, of course, I’d like to dispense with this little tradition. We already have a perfectly fine collect for the day. I don’t see why we need another one. And it adds time to an already long service.
*I had to run around and find a font, make it bearable to look at, make sure it was clean, get it to church.
*I had to have my material ready for Catechesis Sunday morning along with the lesson etc.
*I had to run around and make sure our Evangelical Effort in Baking Bread and Distributing it was all set—I had to run out and buy little loaf pans, bags for the bread, recut Matt’s little service times cards ETC.
*I had to clean the house because my parents arrived the same day we were baking bread.
*I had to coordinate Emma getting to ballet in the middle of the bread making event because I would not be there to take her (and she’d already missed twice so we couldn’t skip again).
*I had to print the bulletin, prayers of the people, lessons, and Matt’s weekly update in time for services on Sunday morning.
*I had to organize the arrival of St. Nicholas in the service, complete with oranges, chocolate, cope, miter etc.
* I had to stop and feed the baby at regular intervals.
*I was supposed to work on and complete my paper for school.
*I had to fill my children’s shoes with chocolate and presents because St. Nicholas would be in church that morning and we forgot to do it on the right day.
*I had to make sure that the children were sensibly dressed so we could have a family picture at the baptism.
Well, you get the picture. And for those of you who would be judgmental and say, ‘she should delegate some of those jobs away’, I’d already given about 20 jobs to other people that were supposedly going to be on my plate.
And so of course things fell through the cracks. I ended up basically sprinting through Saturday and Sunday and actually arriving at the 10:30 service in a full sweat. It was a mess. We got through the service and everything went, but I was wrung out.
This will now be my life from now until after Easter, through Solemn Communion.
Of course, its possible that my priorities are in the wrong order. Church is our job. We are both worshiping and doing the job to make worship happen. And that’s a bottomless pit. There will always be more we could do, more we could do to make it better, more we could do to bring people in. And we are trying to do a lot. We want our children to be godly and upright, and so we are undertaking their education ourselves until we can find a sensible school. We want the church to grow, and so we are pushing and shoving and pleading and encouraging people to come. We want worship to be beautiful and accessible, so we print the whole thing up every week so that it will be easy to follow. Matt wants me to grow and have more theological depth, so I am in school. We love babies and so we are having lots.
And so here I am, Monday morning, exhausted. And my mother is racing around doing laundry and looking at me like I should be more energetic. And instead of drawing any theological conclusions about this, I now have to leap up and get ready for this meeting.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So started Morning Prayer. I packed the kids off with Matt so that I could work on this wretched paper. He took them in, plunked them down, made the banana speach and started the service.
Apparently, and I hear this second hand, they were so bad that Matt had to stop the service, get someone else to take over, take them out and exact justice. Justice in the denial of bananas.
"You were bad, you may not have a banana."
Emma came unglued. Matt offered her a cookie, but no banana. She didn't want a cookie. She wanted a banana.
Of course, I sent them off with bananas, knowing they would be hungry. They were supposed to eat the bananas Before the service, so that they would be good, not have them held over as a treat at the end. Matt is shocked and surprised at how naughty they were. Now he is trying to force Aedan to eat an enormous bagel. Dear Heavenly Saints Above may I get this paper done before all order disappears from the universe!
Monday, December 04, 2006
‘Ok,’ she said, ‘I’ll put the heavy things in paper.’
‘Oh, I’m so sorry, Ma’am, but I’d like Everything in plastic, Except for these few things at the end. I really need these ones at the end in paper.’
She rolled her eyes. Can you believe it? She Rolled Her Eyes. And she had to have been at least 50. I would expect a high school chicky with sparkly lipstick and the latest eye shadow to roll her eyes. But a sensible looking checkout Lady to roll her eyes and then look angry and clunk my groceries around, really. Spent the whole time in line trying to decide what to say—I’m sorry I made you unhappy but please don’t roll your eyes; or, I’m exercising Christian love and charity, so lay off (I was buying a cake for someone besides me); or, look, lady, do you want me to go to another line?
Of course, didn’t say any of these things. And didn’t complain on the way out at the service desk. But did stew all the way home and continue to dwell on it for the rest of the day.
However, I have just listened to Archbishop Venebles’ vlog sent to the Diocese of San Joaquin. And so now, on top of still being in a bad mood, am feeling terribly guilty—first of all for not suffering enough as a Christian, and second of all for bearing my minor suffering with ill grace instead of joy (as the Bible says).
So now I will stop typing, and stop watching questionable late night jokes on You Tube and will go to bed, even though it is only 8 o’clock. With a mood like this, the best thing is to end the day as quickly as possible before something really bad happens. As my father always says, “Cheer up, things could be worse. So I cheered up, and sure enough, things got worse.”
Sunday, December 03, 2006
And I know it was a really excellent sermon because it was brought home to me on a whole new level (I trust by the Holy Spirit) just how absolutely foul and vile abortion is. If you link to the sermon you will note that Matt is not preaching about life issues at all, he talks almost exclusively about Zechariah and his obedience/lack of faith etc. But the subtext (in Scritpure itself) about life and babies and women m'a vraiment frappe (cliche's always sound better in French, I think).
That God, first of all, should choose to move creation and humanity forward by means of conception, pregnancy and birth should be enough for us to honor this process and each life it produces. But that he should then choose this same method for saving humanity from certain eternal perishment takes it to a whole 'nother level. John the Baptist was set aside and chosen to be a prophet even BEFORE he was concieved.
The current Episcopal church crisis over homosexuality and the Scriptures is certainly reason enough to leave (for Any Believing Denomination, for heaven sake, just get out!), but I am convicted today and deeply sorry for my own sin in staying in a 'church' that supports the even more foul crime of killing God's most beloved--babies. May God have mercy on us all.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
So I was invited, and, in a fit of wisdom and sense, begged graciously out by reason of having too many other things to do. I had no idea at the time but I think it was one of the smartest things I’ve done in my whole life.
Let me just say, first, that all the ladies in the ECW are lovely—I love them all. The youngest is probably in her late 50s, the oldest in her early nineties. They work very hard. At funerals, they automatically do a luncheon after the service. For baptisms, they produce a cake. For fundraisers, they accumulate rummage and sell it, make soup and sell it, make cakes, pies, muffins, coffee cake, cookies and sell them. And they particularly minister to our poor intercity neighborhood by pricing everything very low or giving it away. AND, they save their pennies (I mean real old fashioned pennies) and buy birthday cards and support various charitable efforts. Just now they are collecting school supplies for the neighborhood school children, hopefully to replenish old and worn crayons and notebooks from the fall. They are Wonderful. They make the church go by sheer hard work and sacrifice.
But by some perversity, when asked to join, I just didn’t do it. And I firmly believe it was the work of the Holy Spirit. Because, for all the hard work and sacrifice, there is also an element of, what can I call it, Power, that resides with this group of women. Not all the time—not on Sunday morning, not at Bible Study (they all faithfully attend Bible Study), not in the general life of the church—but most particularly when they gather themselves together in the Kitchen or take over the Parish Hall for fundraisers or meetings. This is not a bad thing. These women do an immense amount of work and the power they hold to a large extent drives the practical daily life of the parish forward (along with the enormous super human work Matt does every day keeping up with people’s spiritual lives).
But as the priest’s wife, I had the power to foul this up.
Bring in the priest’s wife, and the delicate balance between Priest, ECW, and Parish is totally upset. Introduce her into the Holy of Holies (I mean the Kitchen) with all her opinions, direct access to the Priest, ability to bake (the list goes on) and the whole brew becomes toxic.
Why? Because what priest’s wife isn’t a little bit pushy? A little full of knowledge and pride? Able to straighten people out with a mere tweak.
No, I just steered clear, and continue to do so. Matt attends all the meetings and keeps up with all the ladies at daily Morning Prayer. I check in periodically and bake for the sales. But generally confine myself to Sunday School, office work, pastoral care, organizing the pageant every year (really, the list goes on and on).
But now I find myself a little torn. We have a new generation of young women who, very sensibly, are staying home with their children and even home schooling. In other words, they are mostly free during the day for the work of the church. I am torn. Do I encourage these young women to join the ECW? Would they be able to meld themselves in? The ECW hasn’t had anyone under 50 join in 30 years. What will happen? Will these young women even be interested? I know the ECW would be delighted at first but I have serious doubts about how long the delight would last.
I leave you, O Best Beloved, with all these questions unanswered, and go to bake several Enormous Christian Loaves of Bread to be sold tomorrow for the up building of the Church and its witness to the World. Amen.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
1 pkg active dry yeast, 1 1/3 cups warm water, 3 cups (or so) flour, 2 T olive oil, 1 T salt
Let it rise once, punch it down, divide it into four or six or eight or however many pizzas you want. Let it rest. Bung your pizza stone in the oven. Preheat it to 475 and let the stone heat for at least half an hour. Get on with your topping.
Liberal amounts of left over Thanksgiving Turkey finely chopped.
Beautifully schmaltzy white béchamel sauce seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence Fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter
Cubed Pancetta rendered and golden
Fresh Italian Parsley
Finely grated Gruyere
Roll out small individual pizzas (especially if you have children and they make life difficult about the mushrooms and parsley and turkey, unless you feel like a fight in which case go for a big one!)
Start with the béchamel, then the pancetta, then the parsley, then the mushrooms lovingly arranged, then lots of turkey, (as much as it can hold, really), then the cheese.
In the over for 10 or 15 minutes until golden and delightful. And then, if you can wrench your husband away from the computer for a minute, make the whole family eat it together, wails and cries of distress included.
One or Two small pizzas rolled, lathered in butter, baked, and then spread (while still piping hot) with Nutella.
But most particularly interesting, to me, was how unmoored Queen Victoria (or Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria) was without Prince Albert. Several times in the course of the film she said, ‘I tried always to be guided by my husband’ or ‘I try to think of what my husband would do, even though he is not here, and do that’. She was unable to cope, or rather refused to cope, with every day life. In other words, she was unable to govern herself. In an effort to bring her out of her grief, her staff brings one Mr. Brown on the scene to at least get her out of doors. Mr. Brown is Scottish and aggressive and essentially forces the Queen back into public life.
This rather surprised me. If anyone should have a hold of themselves, I would have thought it would be Queen Victoria (I shouldn’t really be writing, I haven’t read a thing about her, although now I’m going to). And probably in the recesses of my mind, I thought of her as the quintessential ‘feminist’, in the old sense of the word, as in, strong independent woman—after all, she got to be queen and her husband was never allowed to be king. And even more I would have expected a modern interpretation of her life to have skipped out lines like ‘I try always to think of what my husband would do, and do that’.
Modern feminism is really the opposite—find out what your husband wants to do and then do the opposite, or belittle him, or rule over him, or just generally be in charge of everything. The very idea of being guided by another person, particularly a man, is contrary to the modern woman, at least in her conscious mind. But I would wager, even a small amount of money, that if the man she rules would wake up one day and just not take it any more, she might, very much like Queen Victoria, make the best of it, and actually be a lot more relaxed and happy about life as a result. Knowing, of course, as I write this, that I’m liable to be disagreed with in the strongest of terms.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
But the son still wondered what he should do if he did not hear a Voice directing him, till he came to understand that, as he waited, his Father would work and would so shape the events of common life that they would become indications of His will. He was shown also that they would be in accord with some word of Scripture which would be laid upon his heart. This Scripture in the light of these events, and these events in the light of that Scripture, would work together under the hand of his Father, and point in the same direction. And as he followed step by step the way would open before him. Only he was warned to be careful that his eye be single. He must be like David's soldiers, who were not of a double heart. -His thoughts said...The Father Said.
Friday, November 24, 2006
I wasn't going to post a picture of our turkey because it looked so nekked and, well, homegrown. But Matt insists that Nigella (of Nigella Lawson's Feast) says cook the bird breast side down for more even cooking and thereby succulent taste. Looks are sacrificed for flavor. I disagreed when I saw the bird emerge from the oven--Its got to be possible to have that level of flavor (and, by gum, it was the best turkey he's cooked yet--juicy, golden, perfect) and be beautiful. We remain locked in combat.
I sent two pies to the neighbors yesterday. I had no business making four pies for the four of us (baby doesn’t eat pie yet) and it would have been even more sinful to keep them all. So we only have half of an apple left here and half of a pumpkin. I’m searching around for a savory version of sweet potato balls. I guess I’m going to have to make something up. Unless someone can suggest something.
Here is a thought from Amy Carmichael for the day.
After a time of contrary winds and much toil in rowing, He whose name is Wonderful did wondrously, and there was a great calm. Then the son said, Blessed be the Lord God who spoke with His mouth and hath with His hand fulfilled it. There hath not failed one word of all His good promises. Not one thing hath failed thereof. And his Father said, Whoso offereth the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorifieth Me; and prepareth a way that I may shew him the salvation of God.
His Thoughts said…His Father said…
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Instead, here's my secret to perfect Apple Pie.
Crust: 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 1 Tb white sugar, 1 tp salt sifted together
1 cup cold unsalted Butter. Don't fuss around with shortening or anything else. Go for the full butter. Freeze it, take it out and cut it laboriously by hand into the dry ingredients. Then, By HAND, flake the butter into the flour until its a course crumb consistency.
Get a small pitcher of water and add ice. Add the iced water gently with a fork and then go in by HAND to form the dough as gently as possible.
Wrap the dough tightly in cling film and bung it in the fridge.
Filling: 3 enormous granny smith apples or 6 small ones, or a combination of apples (make sure at least two are firm and tart), the juice of a lemon, liberal smattering of cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon all spice, and at least 1/4 cup sugar but more like a 1/2 or a full cup, 1 Tb flour.
Slice the apples thinly into the same bowl you used to make the dough. Squeeze over the lemon, add the sugar and spices. Let it sit and meld together wonderfully while you roll out the dough--top and bottom. Fill the pie. Cover the Pie. Poke the top of the pie with a knife. Bake the pie at 350 for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbling.
Let it rest for at least 10 minutes or as long as you can stand it and then, don't fuss around with icecream, just pour full fat cream over the top and eat it as quietly as you can without telling anyone.
Monday, November 20, 2006
More than their portion, wow. And there’s no way 815 is using ‘more than their portion’ sitting in elegance in Manhattan spreading heresy around the globe like so much thick sweet junk food peanut butter.
KJS: About 2.2 million. It used to be larger percentagewise, but Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.
Times: Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?
KJS: No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.
But I digress.
The real crux of the matter, as any reasonable person can see, is her amazing assertion “No. Its probably the opposite.” That is, the opposite of having babies. And the opposite of having babies is not having them either by 1. not conceiving them in the first place or 2. killing the ones that have already been conceived.
Now, I know that KJS hasn’t probably read the whole Bible, and if she has, she doesn’t believe that it, but some of us have and do and thus it is incumbent upon us to deal with this assertion, however clunky it may be. And I intend to do so by looking carefully at this verse: But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety. 1Timothy 2:11
First of all, the law against contradictions is important (see post on WO below). Scripture does not contradict itself because God inspired and authored it and he does not contradict himself. So, we know, from the whole witness of scripture that we are saved through the work of Christ alone—men and women (John 14:6, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:13-17). In order to be saved it is necessary to put your full faith and trust in Christ who, through his own death and resurrection, accomplished the salvation of all those who believe. Because we know upon what basis all people, men and women, are saved from sin for eternity, we must be talking about something else.
There’s been much speculation about what that something might be, but I’ve some thoughts and observations of my own.
First of all, when Matt and I made the unconscionable decision to have as many children as possible as soon as possible (that is, upon being married), we observed an ill concealed horror behind the eyes of those we had to tell we were expecting our first (but they just got married, why aren’t they waiting, you could hear echoing silently in the air). But everyone got over it when our baby turned out to be the cutest baby EVER (I’ll try to contain myself). We continued happily along until the day we announced the expectation of our third, close on the heels of our second. Horror once again filled the silent air (they already have one of each! What do they want more for?) that should have been filled with congratulations.
Why the horror, I have wondered to myself. I like babies. Why shouldn’t have as many as I want? What on earth would I wait for, to become older and more tired?
And then I met a couple of young women—both married for about 10 years, both still without children. What, for me, is most curious, is that these are not ‘career’ women. They’re not picking a really good job over having kids, (one of them hates her job), and there aren’t any medical problems, they’re just not having kids. They’re just not ‘ready’.
Thing is, its not just these two women that I have met personally. The fact remains, more and many women in America, in the West, are choosing not to have children.
Now, I know, these same serene childless women look at me judgmentally as I shove my way hysterically through the grocery store. My extravagance in children is culturally insensitive and there’s no reason for it, in secular terms. I mean, what are children really for? They’re expensive. They might turn out badly. They make it impossible for me to ‘fulfill’ myself in any way. The moment I manage to sit down, even for a second, I’m back on my feet to arrest the desperate cries for milk and peanut butter ‘n’ sandwich. At the very moment of writing this I have a splitting headache from having held two simultaneously screaming children for a full 15 minutes, unable to convince either of them to stop crying.
And yet, more than ever in my life, I feel beautiful. At the very least, in bearing children, I have been saved from chronic spiritual ugliness.
Women, by virtue of their biological makeup, are given the gift of life in a way that men are not. They are able to hold within their own flesh, their own bodies, the soul and life of another person. However lightly they may take that other life, however pitifully they may understand what is happening to them, nevertheless, this very particular gift has been given to them. And when they choose not to accept it, when they make a conscious choice Not to have children When they are able, that choice carries spiritual consequences.
I’m not talking about women who are unable to physically bear children (and I know there are many) or choose a vocation of celibacy. Nor even those women who have made bad choices and are seeking the grace and mercy of Jesus to heal and forgive them. God is great and good and merciful and (to quote KJS) doesn’t exist inside a box. He not only saves and redeems, he sanctifies and makes beautiful all those who call upon his name.
But there are many many married women who are able to have children and, for whatever reason, decide not to. And it is this decision that carries the consequence of spiritual ugliness. The baseline of carrying a child to term and being delivered of it requires, at a minimum, moving over and making room for another human being. And that moving over is a choice. You either choose to deliver the baby or not. And the choice to deliver births in the woman herself not only selflessness, but great goodness that comes from God alone. The other choice—to not conceive, to not deliver—births selfishness. And when a culture, or in this case a ‘church’, corporately makes a choice against life, against the gifts God gives, that same church become small and selfish.
Friday, November 17, 2006
This picture is not from last night--its from this summer in June. This is a shot just a few yards from the church, which, miraculously, stayed dry (this summer, not last night).
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
I don’t plan to cover every possible theological and Biblical issue associated with WO today. Others, including Matt+, have already covered the subject amply. I’m mostly going to summarize what has already been said in my own words and, perhaps, with my own twist or two.
Where I’m Coming From (if you don’t want to know, just skip down)
First of all, let me just say that I’m not even remotely Anglo-Catholic (AC). And I maintain vigorously that if you insist on being Anglo-Catholic, you have no business being pro WO—in the parousia, your head will explode from the theological inconsistency. So Ms/Rev Elizabeth Kaeton calling herself a ‘passionate Anglo-Catholic with a joyful evangelical spirit’ doesn’t make any logical sense. If you think that the priest ‘stands in the place of Christ’ in the Eucharist, a woman has no place on the altar. Jesus was a man. He was not some sort of androgynous man-woman person.
But I am not AC. I’m an Evangelical all the way down the line, Reformed in fact (more Calvinist even than my esteemed husband, who will not allow me to preach the full extent of my rabidness from the pulpit). In so saying I am not ascribing to the poison of relativism. I don’t really think its okay to be AC—I think they’re wrong, as surely as I think I am right, but I’m happy to live with them in love and Christian Charity.
Within the Reformed framework, Scripture is absolutely primary. Scripture is, apart from the person of Jesus Christ, the greatest and most precious gift God has given us. It is logical, consistent, it does not contradict itself, it does not err, and best of all it is sufficient. In so far as we do not understand parts of it, it is our own fault, not God’s (the result of sin induced blindness).
In the context of this discussion it is important to note that I stand within the rich Anglican tradition of Hookerian freedom: if a given idea, practice, or behavior doesn’t contradict scripture or principles directly derived from scripture (that is if Scripture doesn’t prescribe against it), then it is, generally speaking, permissable for the Church to exercise her own judgement.
What’s in the Bible
With that said, let's turn briefly to look at the relevant scriptures. I know, they’re all chunked together here, but its ok, go ahead and read through them.
"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ and the head of every woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head–, it is just as though her head were shaved....For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God." (1 Corinthians 11:3-12)
"A woman should learn in full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over man; she should be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love, and holiness with propriety." 1 Timothy 2:11
"When Priscilla and Aquilla heard him [Apollos], they invited them to their home [which according to Paul in Romans 16:1 was a home-church] and explained to him the way of God more adequately." Acts 18.
Ok, let’s get down to the proverbial brass tack.
First, most scholars agree that though there were visible distinctions between men and women (head coverings for women), they were worshipping together, not in separate places as some have suggested. It is likely, however, that they were on different sides or ends of the church. It is very likely that women were not as well educated or as well-versed in the language being used in worship as men--some were, some, perhaps were not.
Second, we have a problem. One basic principle in Reformed theology is the principle or law of non-contradiction; that Scripture does not contradict scripture. God speaks with one voice.
So when Paul says, ‘women should remain silent in the churches’ (1 Cor 14:33-34) and ‘I do not permit a woman to teach or hold authority…she should be silent’ (1 Tim 2:11) and then turns around and says, ‘every woman who prays of prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head (1 Cor 11:3-12)’, he has created a paradox, an apparent contradiction.
Has he indeed contradicted himself? At first glance it would seem so. To ‘prophesy’ involves either giving a ‘word of knowledge’ (that is, a word about a future event or state of affairs through the prompting of the Holy Spirit) OR expounding on some Scripture or word already given, a sort of ‘testimonial’ or short exposition.
So it seems as if Paul is saying: women may never speak and teach in the assembly of the faithful, AND when they do they must cover their heads.
This cannot be the case for obvious reasons.
To quote my articulate and clever husband,
“If Paul’s admonition for women to keep quiet in all times and in all places in church is universal then his making rules to circumscribe the public praying and prophesying of women in the liturgical service of worship is not only difficult to reconcile, it is an outright contradiction. To say A can never act as B after laying down rules to apply when A acts as B is nonsensical. Paul was anything but nonsensical and the Holy Spirit is never the author of nonsense.”
So, for logic’s sake alone, it makes the best sense to presume that 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy are not to be universally applied. This makes further sense knowing that women, at that time, were not generally afforded the same educational opportunities as men and might, because of language and educational differences, not always have understood what was going on or being taught.
And, in their new found freedom in Christ, they very well might have risen up, in wonderment and curiosity, and remarked, out loud, that they did not know what was going on, or asked questions aloud. In which case, if Paul had been presiding (or, in this case, writing to a Celebrant or Presbyter who doesn’t know what to do with the loud and unruly women in his congregation) he would have requested that these women ask their husbands at home afterwards. In other words, don’t take that precious hour on Sunday morning to answer everyone’s questions. It will be too disruptive.
But when, in the usual order and structure of worship, and in the appropriate manner, women stand up to speak, make sure they cover their heads as is befitting and honorable. Most especially because if a woman is flitting around the church without a sensible head covering, it may seem to a new believer struggling with letting go of his past life, that all these nice Christian women are loose and available—definitely not the case.
Which leads me to my third, and probably, most controversial point: the Man is the Head of the Woman, just as Christ is the Head of the Church. Given the whole scope of Paul’s writing, and the Scriptures entire, order is paramount. The earth and all therein was created in order. When, through the failed headship of Adam, sin disrupted that order, Christ the true Head came and put everything back in order.
Therefore, the church, the very bride and body of Christ, must be in order. In creation, the man was created first, and the woman for the man. In the church, that order is sustained in that the man is the head of the household, just as Christ is the head of the Church. It is in this context that women’s ministry, especially in speaking, may be considered.
Pricilla ministered in conjunction with but under the headship of her husband. We know she ministered (her name even comes first, probably because she was more sparkling than Aquila—some people are just more interesting than other people), and we know she ministered with her husband (she is never mentioned alone—it doesn’t say, and then Priscilla took Apollos in to straighten out his weird theology).
Then, in 1 Corinthians, women prophesied in the order and regularity of a church of which a man was head, under the ultimate headship of Christ. They weren’t in charge, but when a word from the Holy Spirit came, it was given, not in some separate cloistered room behind a screen with a whisper, but in the assembly of the faithful AND, in good order.
What then may we conclude?
Primarily we may say with gusto and joy that this business of a lot of women occupying every place of leadership in the church is not biblical. Women did leading and speaking in the Bible, but they are by no means all over the place. For every fifteen Pauls, Apollos, Peters etc, there is only one Priscilla etc. Not only is it not biblical, it is not healthy. The fastest most efficient way of getting all the real men to leave a church is to put all the women in charge of everything and then encourage all these women to go home and nag and boss their husbands. I think we’ve seen this strategy carried out pretty effectively in TEC today.
Secondly, a woman should be in full submission to her own husband, and then, if she serves in a church, to her male rector. If her husband isn’t willing to step up to his place as head, he puts her in a precarious position when she steps out to teach. And, if her rector is fairly uninterested in leading as well, she is in a real mess. In other words, it is not always a sure provision (headship that is) but it is better than nothing. I say this not because I think the average believing priested woman is going to have bad theology and lead everyone astray, but because she is liable to be stomped on and she will then either have to step up and become the man (which is foolish and unhelpful) or become shrill. I am not speaking of the actual average ordained woman in TEC who, I think I can safely say, is teaching heresy with afore mentioned gusto.
But what is particularly damaging is having a woman rector, with a woman assistant, with two women wardens and then maybe a nice quiet man as the church sexton. Of all the heresies, of all the mess TEC is in, of all the hundreds of daily dysfunctional ecclesiastical situations, this one burns me up the most.
I know its tempting, pride not withstanding, to stand up in every situation and speak with scintillating brilliance. It’s particularly tempting, at the Narthex door, shaking hands and smiling, when people (women especially) whisper, ‘I just love Fr. Matt and he’s a very good speaker, but you, I really love your sermons’—its tempting to leap up, head enswelled, and volunteer for every job . It’s even tempting to lay it on thick to the highly dysfunctional, theologically clunky, biblically illiterate men in a congregation (although, really, there aren’t any), giving them the spiritual guidance they so richly deserve. But there is no quicker way to turn these same men off to the Good News of God in Jesus Christ. And when the men leave, the balance and order disappear, and you are left with a shell of a church, the walls ruined, the gates torn asunder, a place so tolerant and open as to be completely inhospitable. May God have mercy on those of us who would have helped create such a place.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Mix it all together (I in my kitchen aid) making sure that the salt doesn’t hit the yeast directly. Kneed for roughly ten minutes. Let it rise till doubled in size, punch it down, form rolls and loaves, rise again, bake at 350 degrees until golden and satisfying.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Nevertheless, courage or no, today is rightly rains, and I hope it is because God himself is thoroughly fed up with the Republican party, as, indeed, we all should be. I had hoped they would hold on, even by the thinnest of threads, to the House and Senate, but now that they have lost on all fronts, I hope they buckle under and do the work they should have done in the first place.
In an effort to do my own civic, motherly duty, I plunked E down yesterday and read her two stories, one on the Puritans, one on Ben Franklin, and had her color a picture of a flag. And I explained that I and her Father would be going later to vote. She wailed with woe, “I will miss you! Will you be gone many days?”
“Ack, no” I said, “It will only take a few minutes if there is no line.”
“Will it hurt?”
“Not at all,” I said, “until maybe later, like tomorrow. Let’s fold laundry.”
Later, having recovered, she announced, “Tomorrow, I will be Princess E and everyone will call me Princess E.”
“Oh really,” I said.
“No” she changed her mind, “ I will be Queen E and I will wear a crown.”
“Maybe,” I said, “but you will be doing school.”
“I will wear a crown and a dress.”
“Fine,” I said.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Thursday, October 26, 2006
So here is the beginning of the ribbon and you can see us working hard to unroll it in the distance. The ribbon begins in the Bible, which is the best place to find out about what God is doing and has done with and for his people. At the end of the ribbon is a small stretch of yellow and then white for the parousia, or time when God will be all in all.
Monday, October 23, 2006
It is interesting to be going to a Catholic school and engaging with that particular 'world view' as the professor would say. Surprised by how much time we spend on the pope and the magisterium. It just doesn't occur to me, as a protestant, to look there for anything. As the days progressed I found these words by Amy Carmichael coming to mind over and over,
"His thoughts said, I have been reading a spiritual book and I am confused and tired with trying to understand.
His Father said, Leave that book and read the Book that thou lovest best; thou wilt find it much simpler."