In our daily prayers God was every manner of image and metaphor and meaning, and always, "God the Father." We never ever prayed to "God our Mother." What were women in the economy of God? The answer was only too painful: We were invisible. I had given my life to a God who did not see me, did not include me, did not touch my nature with God's own....Joan Chittister, "Called to Question"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Proper 22, Pentecost 21

Reflection on Matthew 21:33-46

I am writing this reflection in the midst of a busy start to the new academic year. Just before term started the Governing Body of the Church in Wales approved the recommendations of the Working Group that was a set up as a result of the visit of two welsh female priests to UNCSW 50 as part of the AWE delegation. The remit of this working group was to look at ways in which the Church in Wales could comply with ACC resolution 1331. One of the outcomes of this report was that the theological college where I am training (the only one in Wales) is now committed to not only educating ordinands on issues of gender equality but also all of the clergy currently serving in Wales as well. So, in the midst of enrolment and the beginning of lectures I have been asked to help work out how we do that as a college. The college has chosen to draw on the experience I have gained as a delegate to UNCSW51 & 52. It seems to me that there is now a genuine interest in what I have to say, and issues of Gender Equality are now at the top of the agenda.

All of this was on my mind as I read the Gospel passage for this Sunday. It reads as a warning to those in positions of responsibility to be mindful of their attitude. The tenants in the parable are selfish, out for what they can get and determined not to let anyone get in their way. They forget who they are working for, they forget they are only tenants. Jesus himself tells this story knowing that he is the owner’s son, he too is going to be thrown out of the vineyard and killed. He also knows that his death will be the turning point for Israel as those who kill him will be displaced, they too have used their position to make themselves rich, and have not given God his due.

In approaching Gender Equality at a college level I have been very careful to highlight the reasoning behind ACC 1331 to put it into context in relation to the Millennium Development Goals and the place that women have in achieving those goals. Taking into account today’s Gospel reading it seems quite clear why it is important to get women into positions of responsibility. Women are slowly but surely finding their voice, a voice that has been suppressed by the powerful for far too long. And yet, we are still struggling. My message has received a mixed response this week. Some are keen to redress the balance, others are under the misconception that women in Wales have equal opportunities and that there is nothing more to be done, they do not understand that until women penetrate into key positions of responsibility that women’s voices are never truly heard. Many seem to want to ignore the global issues altogether, they are far enough away, let each country deal with it’s own problems.

Despite the mixed reactions I have received this week, I am heartened by the progress, and I, and we, should take heart from today’s Gospel passage.

"'The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

As surely as the tenants are overthrown, and as surely as we know the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, so too will women achieve positions of responsibility and redress the global imbalance to make life better for all. All that we are asking is an equal share of power with men, all we are asking for is for our voice to be heard. As long as we stay strong and persist we will achieve our goal.

Sarah Rogers

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