Monday, November 16, 2009
The ordination of a sister priest is always a joyous event. But Susan Slaughter’s ordination in Ft. Worth was over the top. It was such a statement of rightness. A couple of weeks ago a I preached on the Hebrew word “tzedek”—the word that we often translate “righteous”. But one of the understandings of that word is harmony. Israelis use this word to describe when an engine is ‘in tune’ or musical instruments are keyed appropriately.
The ordination of the first woman in Ft. Worth was a commitment to harmony in a place which has been dissonant since the formation of the diocese in 1982. Susan’s ordination was not any more important or symbolic than the ordinations of thousands of other women since 1974, but this act speaks to the whole of the Church about the call to “rightness” or the sense of balance or harmony that we have failed at over the past 10-15 years in the Church. The reorganized Diocese of Ft. Worth has taken on the responsibility of righting itself. It is taking the seriously the call of servant ministry. It is taking seriously the call to living out one’s baptismal call to ministry in all orders. And it is fiercely saying to itself, ‘we will not allow ourselves to be duped into thinking that the bishop knows best’ when he/she has failed to listen to the needs of the people. It no longer is saying to the Church ‘we have no need of you’. It is saying that Christ is here and we want to live out that message that Christ is alive and well.
The future of the Diocese is still fraught with financial and legal battles that will be no fun. But now women will be part of the counsel of the clerical order. LGBT Christians are part of the visible Church now. African-American and Latino Episcopalians now are vocal and viable parts of the ministry of the diocese. There is no want of Christian clarity and strength in it. There is no loss of faithfulness in this bunch of North Texans who have endured all manner of discouragement for the sake of Jesus. And perhaps they will be able to witness to the rest of the Church what it means to claim the calling to ‘tzedek’ that we all need.