More Messy Women (and Messy Men) Please

Today, Monday 17th  November, the final piece of legislation allowing women to be appointed as bishops is due to make its way through the General Synod of the Church of England. I generally don't comment on the goings on in sister denominations unless something so outrageous happens that I drop my guard and have pressed the "publish" button before engaging the "grace" circuit in my brain... So I am not going to make any comment except those that might be inferred in the light of the superb event in the Agape Centre on Friday past, entitled A Night with Messy Women.
In this Wendy Johnston recited from memory the family tree of Jesus in Matthew chapter one, before going on to recite the stories of the 5 women cited in that story... all of whom, in the eyes of established Jewish social and religious circles would have been even further down the social scale than "normal" Jewish women... either because of dubious sexual morals (ignoring the dubious sexual morals of the men who consorted with them) or their ethnic origins... "See those foreign women, coming over here and taking our men!"But the stories of Tamar, Rehab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary are all arresting... some inspiring, others deeply shocking... but all essential to salvation history as we know it... And the fact that the only women specifically mentioned are all social outsiders is profoundly revolutionary... perhaps prompted in part by the fact that Matthew was possibly a social outsider himself as a former tax-collector who had brought shame on his Levitical roots... As has been said elsewhere, this performance deserves further outings, and we are looking for a suitable venue/slot in the Four Corners Festival in February, when I would hope we will also look at the stories of contemporary messy women in a panel afterwards... But I hope that Wendy is bombarded with requests to do this the length and breadth of the country and beyond... It deserves a wide audience...But more than that, I would like to see many more messy women, in the CoE, CoI, Methodist, Presbyterian, Catholic and every flavour of Christianity under the sun, being encouraged to find their place in the ongoing salvation history of the world... And more than that, I want to see more messy men encouraged to play their parts more prominently, not just as trophies of grace gloriously saved from their particular moral morass or cultural no-go-zone, but as channels of grace wherever Jesus encounters them... Conforming not to the peculiar worldview of planet church, but being transformed, and transformative influences in a world that needs people willing to get involved in its messiness.



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