Archive for the ‘Gender’ Tag

The Communion of Saints, Part III   1 comment

Above:  All Saints

Image in the Public Domain

THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS (NOVEMBER 1)

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Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in the mystical body of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord:

Give us grace to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living,

that we may come to those ineffable joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting.  Amen.

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2006), 663; also Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 59

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Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18

Psalm 34:1-10, 22

1 John 3:1-3

Matthew 5:1-12

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The Episcopal Church has seven Principal Feasts:  Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Day of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day, and the Epiphany.

The Feast of All Saints, with the date of November 1, seems to have originated in Ireland in the 700s, then spread to England, then to Europe proper.  November 1 became the date of the feast throughout Western Europe in 835.  There had been a competing date (May 13) in Rome starting in 609 or 610.  Anglican tradition retained the date of November 1, starting with The Book of Common Prayer (1549).  Many North American Lutherans first observed All Saints’ Day with the Common Service Book (1917).  The feast was already present in The Lutheran Hymnary (Norwegian-American, 1913).  The Lutheran Hymnal (Missouri Synod, et al, 1941) also included the feast.  O the less formal front, prayers for All Saints’ Day were present in the U.S. Presbyterian Book of Common Worship (Revised) (1932), the U.S. Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home (1945), and their successors.

The Feast of All Saints reminds us that we, as Christians, belong to a large family stretching back to the time of Christ.  If one follows the Lutheran custom of commemorating certain key figures from the Hebrew Bible, the family faith lineage predates the conception of Jesus of Nazareth.

At Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia, where I was a member from 1993 to 1996, I participated in a lectionary discussion group during the Sunday School hour.  Icons decorated the walls of the room in which we met.  The teacher of the class called the saints depicted “the family.”

“The family” surrounds us.  It is so numerous that it is “a great cloud of witnesses,” to quote Hebrews 12:1.  May we who follow Jesus do so consistently, by grace, and eventually join that great cloud.

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Gendered language does not bother me.  Gender is, after all, a reality of human life.  Besides, neutering language frequently blurs the divide between the singular and the plural, hence my objections to the singular “they,” “them,” “their” and “themselves.”  One can–and should–be inclusive linguistically in such a way as to respect the difference between the singular and the plural.  I do understand the issue of clarity, however.  I know that how members of one generation, in a particular cultural context, perceive a gendered term, such as “sons,” differs greatly from how others elsewhere, at another time, do.  Certain modern English translations of the Bible, in an admirable attempt to be inclusive, obscure subleties of gendered terms sometimes.  However, translating a text literally does not make those subtleties clear, either.  Commentaries are necessary for that.

Consider, for example, Romans 8:14-17, O reader.  In that passage the Greek for “sons of God” often comes across in modern English as “children of God.”  Likewise, we read “children” when the Greek word means “sons.”  The cultural context, in which sons, but not daughters, inherited, is vital to understanding that portion of scripture, in which Christians, whether they are biologically sons or daughters, inherit, via Jesus.  Thus “sons of God” includes daughters.  None of that is superficially evident, however.

In contrast, “children,” as in “children of God, as opposed to “children of Satan,” in 1 John 3:1 and 3:10 is a literal translation from the Greek; the Greek word is not gender-specific.  That fact is not superficially evident, however, given the recent tendency to gloss over gendered language.  A commentary is necessary to understand that aspect of 1 John 3:1 and 3:10.

Our societies condition us in ways that frequently do not apply to the cultural contexts that informed ancient texts.

In 1929 Lesbia Scott wrote:

They lived not only in ages past,

There are hundreds of thousands still,

The world is bright with the joyous saints

Who love to do Jesus’ will.

You can meet them in school, or in lanes, or at sea,

In church, or in trains, or in shops, or at tea,

For the saints of God are just folk like me,

And I mean to be one too.

The apocalyptic hope present in Daniel 7, the community focus of Psalm 34, and the counter-cultural values of the Beatitudes should encourage us to persist is fidelity to God, to do so in faith community, and without resorting to serial contrariness, to lead lives that reject those cultural values contrary to the message of the Beatitudes.  We must do this for the glory of God and the benefit of people near, far away, and not yet born.  And, when our earthly pilgrimage ends, others will take up the cause we join what Hebrews 12:1 calls

a great cloud of witnesses.

Members of that great cloud of witnesses are sons and daughters of God–inheritors of the promise, by the grace of God.  Certain cultures restrict inheritance rights according to gender, but God does not.  Each of us, by grace and faith, can be among the sons of God and the children of the light.

And I mean to be one, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JUTTA OF DISIBODENBERG, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS; AND HER STUDENT, SAINT HILDEGARD OF BINGEN, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBESS AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF GERARD MOULTRIE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, HYMN WRITER, AND TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZYGMUNT SZCESNY FELINSKI, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF WARSAW, TITULAR BISHOP OF TARSUS, AND FOUNDER OF RECOVERY FOR THE POOR AND THE CONGREGATION OF THE FRANCISCAN SISTERS OF THE FAMILY OF MARY

THE FEAST OF SAINT ZYGMUNT SAJNA, POLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1940

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/devotion-for-the-feast-of-all-saints-years-a-b-c-and-d-humes/

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Gender Equality in Jesus Via the Holy Spirit   1 comment

Above:  French Suffragettes in 1935

Image in the Public Domain

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1 Timothy 3:1-13 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Here is a saying that you can rely on:  To want to be a presiding elder is to want to do a noble work.  That is why the president must have an impeccable character.  He must not have been married more than once, and he must be temperate, discreet and courteous, hospitable and a good teacher; not a heavy drinker, nor hot-tempered, but kind and peaceable.  He must not be a lover of money.  He must be a man who manages his own family well and brings his children up to obey him and be well-behaved:  how can any man who does not understand how to manage his own family have responsibility for the church of God?  He should not be a new convert, in case pride might turn his head and then he might be condemned as the devil was condemned.  It is also necessary that people outside the church should speak well of him, so that he never gets a bad reputation and falls into the devil’s trap.

In the same way, deacons must be respectable men whose word can be trusted, moderate in the amount of wine they drink and with no squalid greed for money.  They must be conscientious believers in the mystery of the faith.  They are to be examined first, and only admitted to serve as deacons if there is nothing against them.  In the same way, the women must be respectable, not gossips but sober and quite reliable.  Deacons must not have been married more than once, and must be men who manage their children and families well.  Those of them who carry out their duties well as deacons will earn a high standing for themselves and be rewarded with great assurance in their work for the faith in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 101 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 I will sing of mercy and justice;

to you, O LORD, will I sing praises.

I will strive to follow a blameless course;

oh, when will you come to me?

I will walk with sincerity of heart within my house.

3 I will set no worthless thing before my eyes;

I hate the doers of evil deeds;

they shall not remain with me.

A crooked heart shall be far from me;

I will not know evil.

Those who in secret slander their neighbors I will destroy;

those who have a haughty look and a proud heart I cannot abide.

6 My eyes are upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me,

and only those who lead a blameless life shall be my servants.

7 Those who act deceitfully shall not dwell in my house,

and those who tell lies shall not continue in my sight.

I will soon destroy all the wicked in the land,

that I may root out all evildoers from the city of the LORD.

Luke 7:11-17 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Now soon afterwards he [Jesus] went to a town called Nain, accompanied by his disciples and a great number of people.  When he was near the gate of the town it happened that a dead man was being carried out for burial, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.  And a considerable number of the townspeople were with her.  When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her.

Do not cry

he said.  Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still, and he said,

Young man, I tell you to get up.

And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother.  Everyone was filled with awe and praised God saying,

A great prophet has appeared among us; God has visited his people.

And this opinion of him spread throughout Judaea and all over his countryside.

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The Collect:

O God, because without you we are not able to please you mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/feast-of-aquila-priscilla-and-apollos-february-13/

http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/feast-of-sts-lydia-dorcas-and-phoebe-holy-wome-january-29/

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Consider the following:

All baptised in Christ, you have all clothed yourselves in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.  Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised.

–Galatians 3:28 (The Jerusalem Bible)

1 Timothy can be a troublesome book, for it contains a mixture of culturally-conditioned and locally-specific gender attitudes (in this day’s reading and in 2:9-15) as well as garden-variety sexism.  But a survey of the epistles we know that Paul wrote reveals great openness to a prominent place for women in the church.  And then there is Galatians 3:28.

A few days ago I read a New York Times story about the difficulty that many unmarried (and presumably chaste; I have no reason to suspect otherwise) evangelical ministers in the United States have securing pastorates.  I assume that interpretations of passages, such as those from 1 Timothy for this day, account for part of the cause of this difficulty.  But, as Matthew 19:12 quotes Jesus speaking affirmatively, there are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.  Besides, marriage is not a universal vocation.  Furthermore, speaking as a recovering Preacher’s Kid, there is much virtue in certain proportion of the clergy being voluntarily celibate, for the lack of a family life enables them to devote more time to serving God via the church.

Gender roles in the Bible vary according to time and place.  Many laws regarding women in the Hebrew Scriptures assume that females are property of men.  So, for example, premarital sexual relations become a property crime–against her father, no less.  The man makes restitution by marrying the woman he has deflowered.  However, if one cannot prove that the man deflowered her, she is to die by stoning.  (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)  And adultery, in the Ten Commandments, is a property crime against the husband.  (See Exodus 20:17)

And, in the Hellenistic world, most women depended on men financially.  This fact helps explain our Lord’s condemnations of divorce without serious cause.  It was convenient for the husband, but placed the ex-wife at great risk.  And a widow needed a male relative–in the case of the woman from Luke, a son, to protect her.

Fortunately, there is equality through the Holy Spirit.  If our societies and institutions (especially religious ones) do not recognize this reality, they err in so far as they deviate from this high standard.  But a society is not an abstraction, for it consists of people.  Societies change over time as attitudes shift.  Sometimes this is positive; other times it is not.  Yet gender equality is good.

So, where do you stand?  And how will you act to make the world, or just your corner of it, a more equitable place, for the benefit of all?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 24, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF OSCAR ROMERO, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF SAN SALVADOR, AND THE MARTYRS OF EL SALVADOR

FEAST OF DIDACUS JOSEPH OF CADIZ, CAPUCHIN FRIAR

FEAST OF PAUL COUTURIER, ECUMENIST

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Published originally at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR on March 24, 2011

Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/week-of-proper-19-tuesday-year-1/

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Posted October 21, 2011 by neatnik2009 in 1 Timothy 2, 1 Timothy 3, Exodus 20, Galatians 3, Luke 7, Psalm 121

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