Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Subversive Power of the Gospel

Today was the first gathering my first Bible Study as a member of the staff of my new church. I have been attending this program-sized parish for about 9 months now. I have preached and celebrated and sung in the choir. But on Sunday, the rector ‘regularized’ my status by adopting me as an ‘assisting priest’.

It is a neat parish. It is one of the few fairly progressive parishes that was not tainted by the Iker regime. It is in the suburb of Ft. Worth where I started teaching back in the late sixties when I was an undergrad. One of the kids I had in school is now the Jr. Warden. When I taught there, it was a small spot on the road where the kids were often late to school because “the cows jumped the fence.” There was one school K-8 with 2 classrooms of each grade. Now the system has 23 elementary schools! And it is one of the fastest growing cities and tony school systems in all of TX.

But today I met with 8 very active and rather vocal and thirsty senior women who wanted to learn more about the Bible. Some of them feel as though they know NOTHING and even though they may have been Episcopalians their whole lives, they feel woefully out of touch with the source of their faith. Some were raised in other traditions but in ALL cases they felt that the Bible had been mediated to them and carefully interpreted to them by men.

I asked them what they wanted to study. Some of the had participated in a long study of Revelation (I am with Luther; I don’t think it should have been collected into the Bible), but all were generally just as baffled by it. They said they wanted to study something that wasn’t just history but something that would feed their understanding of the roots of Christianity from Hebrew Scripture. We settled on Amos because few knew about the 7th century BC loss of the Northern Kingdom and had never studied Hebrew poetry or the early prophetic movements. I am excited about studying scripture with these women.

One woman who had been the buyer for her parish book store in another conservative diocese said that the rector only allowed her to buy books from conservative authors. Another said, she quite frankly didn’t believe in a lot the ‘BS’ that she had been taught in sermons. And I was able to say, I didn’t either. And we all laughed.

If there is anything I know for certain about Holy Scripture is that it is subversive. And these women are eager to hear a liberating Word. These are women who have been betrayed by an interpretation of God’s acts that has been used to control them. And what they are going to find out is that God has a Word for them.

The whole idea of women studying the Bible together has, I am sure, been going on for 2000 years—whether it was allowed or behind closed doors. Even Paul found it scary what happened when women found the source of their power in the life of Jesus. These women are ready to step into the scary world of being free in their faith. Watch out, Church!


Diane said...

I have done a "Men's Breakfast Bible Study" at my church for several years. There was one woman who attended it. I suggested at one point that we study the book of Micah. One of the men hated it! said it didn't apply to us. The one woman said it was her favorite book!

ha! have fun.

Br. Thomas Squiers said...

First of all, congratulations on your status as assistant priest. Did you ever think you'd be an active priest in Fort Worth of all places? Redemption in its truest form? And how delightful that you have found a group of people to minister to who are athirst for Scriptural study that allows each to express her own viewpoint and be vocal in her own theological stance. I think that is what Jesus meant for us to do when he said "follow me."

Crimson Rambler said...

and there she is with her square halo! Huzza! Thanks for this... we have a marvelous Wednesday morning group of very senior women and they are hungry and thirsty for material with sinew and fibre to it...

it's margaret said...

Ohoh --Texas is in trouble now!