Monday, November 02, 2009

Glass Ceiling or Sea of Glass?

Yet another reprint! It seems apposite ecumenically.

Women Bishops - above or below?

There are curious aspects to debates about ministry. Most noticeable is the idea that the clergy form a set of lords and ladies with permission to push people about. "If I am not a Bishop or Priest I can't give people enough push to get things done" seems to be the refrain so often sung.

What nonsense! Speaking at my then diocese's first ordination of women the Lutheran Bishop of Hamburg made it quite plain that she saw her role as administration, and little else, indeed nothing else, if my memory is correct. A visit to Lutheran Hamburg a little later indicated to us that this was in fact so.

Isn't it better to forget "glass ceilings" militating against the preferment of female clerics and to focus on the "Sea of Glass" before God's throne and ask what should be done there? Ministry is about helping not lording it over the flock. The Old Testament got that right centuries before Christianity was born.

Let's hope we get it right this time and make allowances which enable us to live and work together in the "bond of peace" prayed for daily in the Church of England. May be we should be dancing before the Lord on that Sea of Glass in a myriad of wonderful and fruitful partnerships, in which we can all take part together and enjoy each other's company even though there are things, including important things, on which we disagree!


Labels: , , ,

Women Bishops? No need for debate!

This is a post I published in January 2006. Somehow it still seems apposite. The only reason for putting my tongue in my cheek is not the thought or the logic, but whether anyone would have the nerve!

"It's true, I trow! There was never any reason for the 1992 legislation to ordain women to the priesthood in the Church of England. Any diocesan bishop could have gone ahead quite legally and ordained one. That is the clear position of what the words of the Book of Common Prayer, the Ordinal, and the previous Canon Law said.

Since my last post I have been looking carefully through these legal documents of the Church of England, along with the "Thirty-Nine Articles." In them the word "man" and its compounds and associated pronouns is clearly inclusive everywhere. What we have done is to misread these documents using twentieth century meanings for its sixteenth and seventeenth century words.

So it has been really totally unnecessary all this anguish and division and "leaving the Church of England" between proponents and opponents of women as priests and bishops.

The most startling instance of the inclusive nature of the words used in these documents comes in the Preface to the Book of Common Prayer, written in 1661 after the the restoration of the monarchy. It mentions "several Princes of blessed memory since the Reformation" during whose reigns revisions had been made. One of these was Elizabeth 1. The word "Prince" as used here, unusually to modern understanding, is clearly inclusive of both male and female.

So then, is the General Synod going to waste a lot of time and hot air on what is unnecessary once more?

Almost certainly, it is its way!

More to come later,

Fr Ted"

Labels: ,