On the last Sunday of October congregations are invited to observe Mennonite Heritage Sunday, each year having a different theme related to the Anabaptist/Mennonite story. This year’s theme is The Gifts of Women.
Needless to say, the church historically has not done such a good job of treating women and men as equal partners in the mission of God. Neither has it done such a good job of using language and imagery for God that celebrates both the feminine and the masculine. The dual effect here is that men have too often seen themselves as god, and women have too seldom seen themselves as god.
We’ve not done this well, and we are all the poorer for it.
I see Columbus Mennonite as a community committed to learning and growing and nurturing the gifts of all who are present, regardless of gender identity. That’s a beautiful thing and an important witness.
I thought it would be a little strange if I, in my maleness, would deliver the sermon on this theme, so instead I’ll be interviewing three CMC women about their experiences with church – Joyce W, JoAnn K, and Becca L. We’ll talk about the churches of their youth, how their gifts have or haven’t been welcomed, their evolving relationship with the predominantly male populated Bible and masculine God imagery, what they are observing presently, and their best hopes for what the church can be. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
This Sunday we will celebrate the gifts of women, we will lament the ways those gifts have been ignored and repressed, we will sing to the Divine who is the Source of the feminine and the masculine, and we will hear from women who will give voice to their own journey with God and church.
And whatever ways the conversation needs to continue after Sunday, may it be so.