Thursday, 5 July 2007

The Cost as a Woman in Following Christ

There are times when old non Christian friends look at me with their heads tilted sideways. "How is it that you can do this?" they ask, " be a part of a religion that has been responsible for the pain and suffering of hundreds of thousands of women?"

Some are angry, have I let the sisterhood down, some I suppose see me as a sell out - we don't tend to do coffee anymore, and others, dear sweet others, fear that I shall be damaged following the Christian Way. That the cost of following this God will be too high.

And to a point they are right. There is a cost in following Christ. It always makes me smile people who assume that once you become a Christian life becomes easy. I would have to say that since I became a Christian I have had anything but an easy life. Of course there is a cost.

The thing is the cost of not following Christ for me is now even higher. As a woman in New Zealand Anglican Church I am lucky that I have the freedom when called to express my ministry in all its forms to a point (there are churches here who although will not state it publicly will not have ordained women in their parishes).

I remember when I was a fairly new Christian being taught to serve. I had been shown the ropes and then got to serve for a staunch elderly retired priest who after mass (I think I may have lit the Gospel Candle first or some other deadly sin) marched me into the vestry where I was told in no uncertain terms that I would now be told how to serve in the proper Anglo Catholic tradition. He looked me up and down and sighed "you are a girl but I suppose there's nothing I can do about that"

Looking down at my chest I too sighed, nope no hiding these. Actually I ended up learning a lot from that priest, I think we both had to work on tolerance. At that time however I was profoundly aware of the cost as I struggled against the structure of the Church, stuck out my elbows and tried to find my place. What did it mean for me as a woman to follow Christ, what did it mean as a women to be a part of the church?

One of the first things I learnt and indeed sadly have yet to see much if any change in, was that as an intelligent women in her 30's there was no place, no social support, network or ministry for me if I didn't have children providing the sacred entry pass into a "parents" group. Unless you had a child you were an anomaly. Even women in that age group who were interested in investigating what it meant to be a Christian beyond the role of parent were invisible.

Today (hence the topic) I found a piece I wrote in those early days, and here it is...

She never knew how high the cost would be to keep her witness low
Her love song to the Lord whispered in dark feminine places

Play nice
Be sweet
Set up for the next service
and while your at it make us a nice cup of tea love

She never knew how deep the divisions they demanded in her would cut
How much of her they were prepared to carve away
How a half women could be better than one at all?

Play nice
Be sweet
and while your at it pass the scones woman
and if your really good well let you wash up afterwards

She never knew how high the cost would be to keep her witness low

So why stay? It would have been easy to walk away, to tell myself I will follow Christ in my own way. But God often has other plans for us. Around the same time I wrote this, a wonderful woman sent me this piece by author Dorothy L. Sayers, a friend of C.S.Lewis

"Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.
They had never known a man like this Man - there has never been such another.
A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them; never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as 'The women, God help us!' or 'The ladies, God bless them!... "

There is a cost in following Christ sometimes it is great, sometimes it is hidden. I am not sure what the cost is for me at the moment I just know that the cost of not following is far greater.

1 comment:

jude said...

you have a wonderful gift in being able to express yourself in the written word.... by the way, I neglected to tell you that M. has shaved her hair of, aided by her siblings and photographed each step of the way.
Being the nitpicking grammer person that I am, I can't resist letting you know that the use of "your" in reference to an abbreviation for 'you are' needs to be spelt "you're". Sorry, but I do it to D. when he writes stuff, consequently he derives great pleasure in finding grammatical errors in my assignments! Feel free to use me as a spell check - grammar check person. Hey it was neat to be able to sit and write icons together...only us...and catch up on some very much needed time together. thankyou for being you and the wonderful gifts you bring to us allllllllllllll.
love, Jude