This Friday (March 8th) is International Women’s Day, and we will be focusing on the ministry of women on Sunday at Transfiguration.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg was once asked, “when will there be enough women on the Supreme Court?”
Her answer was priceless, “when there are 9!”
We have seen 9 men on the Supreme Court for generations, and no one batted an eyelid, why shouldn’t the court be filled with experienced, wise, capable women judges. The notorious RBG had a point!
It reminded me of a moment in my previous parish, at St Saviour in Pimlico, when we were debating having women serve as acolytes, and then eventually opening the ministry of the church up to women priests. It was a difficult conversation in parish life. One issue that arose was very similar to the one Ruth Bader Ginsberg addressed.
“We should work hard to make sure there is always a balance of men and women on the altar party.”
I thought about it for a second, nodded, but wondered why we should make sure such a balance existed. I also knew, having put many a parish rota together, that it isn’t quite as easy as it looks to make sure that there are balances of any kind in the Altar Party. It all depends on peoples availability, calendars, and lots of moving parts that are beyond your control. So I was pretty sure that by a miracle of scheduling an entirely female altar party would just happen one day. Then I was interested to see what took place.
Well it took a few years, but it did happen one Sunday. The priest, preacher, thurifer, crucifer, eucharistic ministers and acolytes were all female. I wondered if those who asked for balance would notice… no one said a thing. We had moved into a new reality.
This Sunday we are celebrating the first Sunday of Lent. The service will open with the Great Litany, and we will look at the theme of temptation. I am so glad that we will be joined by two of my colleagues for whom I have immense respect. Amber, who often presides at our 9:15am service, the chaplain of St Matthew’s Day School will preside. Canon Abbot Bailey, our Bishop's 'Canon to the Ordinary' will preach. I haven’t looked at the rest of the rota yet, so I don’t know if everyone else is female, but I am going to enjoy these colleagues leading me in prayer and opening the scriptures for me.
Won’t you join me in celebrating with them?
From the UK, Matthew loved US culture from the first time he picked up a Fantastic Four Comic when he was 12.