Don’t forget our weekly reflection for this, the 3rd week of Ordinary Time.
As the old Scottish proverb goes, “Open confession is good for the soul.” And if you made your way through the readings for the week, you would see much about confession. So maybe the time is right for some good ‘ole admission.
First, you should know that I have been blessed to be surrounded by beautiful and strong women for my entire life. My mother is one of the most spiritual people I know. She’s constantly reading from Scripture and in prayer. I feel like I still have so much to learn from her. My sister is one of the strongest people you’ll meet. No one fights harder and defends those she loves better. (Happy birthday, Sis!!) My wife Staci is amazingly faithful. She cares for our kids, takes care of our home and still puts up with all my quirks. That’s pretty amazing.
And that’s just a start. I’ve always had friends like Brittany (a tireless caregiver and one of the most generous people you will ever come across) and classmates and coworkers and family members who have shown me what it means to be more human and more like God.
You see, I’ve been part of some really good churches in my life. And they have been full of leaders that do their best to follow Scripture and serve God the best that they can. And yet the idea I’ve picked up is that somehow women are relegated to the spiritual backseat. There were always certain rules as to what women could and could not do in church. Each gender had their roles, and we faithfully stuck to them. And while my viewpoint has diverged from this over the years, my silence has nevertheless been deafening.
Luke’s gospel has been transformational in this area for me. Instead of downplaying the women of the story, Luke highlights them. A story of a man is often paralleled by the story of a woman. Just look at our reading from Luke 7&8 this week. The sinful woman’s adoration of Jesus stands in contrast to the conceit of the religious men. The women who followed & supported Jesus are introduced in chapter 8 just like the disciples in chapter 6. Throughout the gospel Luke shows Jesus’ concern for women whom rabbis would normally ignore.
Jesus went out of his way to lift up the women around him in a society that often downplayed their gifts and stature.
I realize the issue of women’s role in the church is complicated. It can be controversial and even divisive (at least in my tribe it can be). And there can be much to dissect and discuss. There are many who faithfully read the words of Paul and honestly come to different conclusions than I. I respect those people immensely.
And I have no desire to discuss these issues in detail in this space. My goal is not to convince or persuade.
My simple desire is to make sure I never allow my daughter to feel like she has to take a spiritual backseat to anybody simply because of her anatomy. I want to support her and all of the amazing women around me. I want to treat them like Jesus did in his day.
Because whether it’s intentional or not, church can be a place that downplays the gifts and stature of women.
So today, I confess my failures. Thank you to all of the women who have taught me what it means to be loving and kind and patient and honest and generous and faithful. You have shown me what God is like. You have led me in ways that I cannot describe and my heart overflows with thanksgiving.
And I look forward to all I will continue to learn through the leadership of women like Mom, Ami, Staci & Brittany. You take a backseat to no one.