the church ss However, this can also act like a sedative. We begin to feel that at least author/ person understands and affirms us. If we are not careful, it can almost silence us in the outside world. When women’s spiritual concerns are kept private, in the home, in contemplative practice, within women’s church groups – given voice only at the occasional approved alternative service, or practiced by the token virtue of being a woman in a male-dominated religious group – they have little power to influence the institution. They struggle to present the gospel challenge of radical inclusivity, and can be effectively muffled or silenced. We need to feel affirmed, nourished and included, but we also need to live our faith with integrity, challenge and courage in the outside world. We need to keep asking the questions loudly. We need to image Christ.
Images of Christ
y daughter and I spent a great deal of time that Sunday discussing women and the church, the images of God she had, why they were mostly male and where that had come from, after all my efforts to keep it balanced. We discussed the language of the liturgy and the
hymns. I was reminded how influential the institution is in our spiritual growth and understanding particularly at that impressionable age. I may have learnt to filter the words and images through my own faith understandings, to reframe them, but children are not so sophisticated. Especially we talked about the irony of why, in a world where parents try to support and encourage their children to be anything they want or feel called to be, my daughter can be anything a priest in her own church, an institution whose sole reason for existence ultimately is to represent the unconditional love of God. We discussed how, even if she ever felt called to that role, her discernment would be disregarded as misplaced for the sole reason that she is female. As an intelligent questioning female, in the light of those contradictions how is she to see the church with any degree of credibility as she grows older? How would we as parents counsel her if it were any secular institution denying her on these grounds? I am still struggling with how to help her find integrity in a relationship like
that. I must admit that I am struggling myself – yet again. I look around church on a Sunday, and I relate to all the people who sit with me, parishioners and priests alike, all struggling, like me,
at what point will the church become accountable to over half its membership to understand, to build and live their faith. We are a faith community. That has never been the question. I believe in the struggle and hopes of the people; I see Christ bursting through and around them, . I just don’t know about the box he and we are being asked to dance in. I know he must be spilling through the margins, perhaps finding greater room to move in the streets. Our boxes have never defined the dance of God. If the box is gone or just reframed, the dance for sure will continue. What are we so afraid of? ■
here is a place within God’s song For voices high and true
IMAGO DEI Yet softer notes and complex tone Are missing from the hue.
Yet are stifled on their lips As they’re asked to celebrate behind.
While up above deep voices ring And instruments tone loud In a cell below the orchestra Is a choir of light, sweet muffled sound.
This keeps their songs from taking flight Half written on the page Because the cost to have them join Would tone an ending age.
Forced to tap out harmonies In rhythms soft upon the walls Not wanted where the big boys play Yet honouring God’s call.
So they have a voice beneath the stage A conscience for the lie And angels light upon these walls and join God’s anguished cry: “How come this plight for half my heart – my image – yet denied?”
Not welcomed up to stand and claim The gift of which they’re born Their truth is judged and shadowed by An emphasis on form. So their songs are danced in gowns of grace Of priestly form within 20 Tui Motu InterIslands
Published on May 5, 2014