Modern-day “Deborahs”

On Saturday I attended a womens’ contemplative retreat at my church. The topic was ” Womens’ Places in the Church”. 

Naturally I came away from this time away with much” food for thought”. I am unapologetic about my feminist views.

Men listened to Deborah!

The first lessons/meditations were lessons from Paul & the Pauline writers.  Naturally these passages touched a nerve with me & every other woman in attendance.  EFM has taught me a lot about the times & politics of Paul’s writings, I still cringe when I hear or read some of his misogynist words. 

The next set of Scriptures given to us at this retreat  revolved around some passages from the Hebrew Bible that puts women in positions of power and/or leadership. We read & meditated on the stories of Deborah, Esther & Abigail. 

Since I’m of good Jewish stock on Mom’s side of the family, I grew up with the stories of Deborah & Esther. Both women show leadership skills.   In all honesty, I do nor recall Mom telling me much about Abigail, but the other two are very familiar to me.

I am blessed with many women who take a cue from Deborah’s leadership style. She did not let her gender stop her from doing what it was that God asked of her. Although Scripture does not record anyone questioning her leadership skills, human nature dictates that not all of her army would have been happy following a woman into battle.

I owe a debt of gratitude to the many examples of strong women in my life & I am grateful for their leadership & examples. These women are found in my parish, my Diocese & The Episcopal Church.  Several of these women wear the clerical collar, but most are laywomen like me.  These modern-day ” Deborahs” get God’s work done and may of them { especially my ” collared chick” friends } still face gender discrimination every day. I find it sad that women in the Church of England still are not seen as called to the episcopate. { remember  ” Mitregate” during the last Lambeth, anyone?}

 Why do some people {even other women} fear womens’ ordaination & even seem to want to limit the ministries of  laywomen? They claim that Jesus was a man{ He was} and that St Peter is the ” rock upon which I will build the Church”. I am not negating the important roles of St  Peter & the disciples but I take great umbrage with the theological positions of social conservatives who want to use Holy Scripture to keep women oppressed by teaching girls that they ” must keep silent in Church.”

Deborah was a priest & a judge to whom men LISTENED to in times of war.  Scripture does not tell us that anyone argued with Deborah’s battle plans; they trusted her  leadership.  She not only came up with the battle plan, she went with her army & saw the plan to completion. She was called by God to lead  in that time & place & I am convinced that the strong women leaders I know are also called by God.

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