URC Daily Devotion 13 October 2023

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13 October 2023 

I’m a Christian Despite…despite sexism.


St Matthew 12: 46-50

While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’  And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’
Reading these verses, I had a vivid picture of Jesus gesturing towards those who were listening to him – and, as his hand swept round the room, really noticing each of them: women and men, brothers and sisters. He was, I realised, the one to introduce ‘sisters’ to the conversation. In a time when women were often invisible, Jesus repeatedly saw and included them. We know the names of his male disciples because they were recorded, as a matter of course, by the (male) gospel writers. But we know that women were present because Jesus saw them and spoke with them, engaged seriously with them in his teaching, and included them and their lives in his parables.
This experience of being truly seen and respected as equals has not often been shared by women within the Church. From the outside the Church is often simply assumed to be sexist – after all, didn’t we negotiate to side-step full compliance with equalities legislation on theological grounds? Rightly or wrongly (and my money’s on wrongly) gender still plays a huge part in how we perceive and treat each other, despite being told that ‘there is no longer male and female… in Christ’ (Galatians 3: 28).
So why am I still a Christian? Perhaps because I grew up in a church which had ministers who were women, as well as ministers who were men; and in a family where the injustice that the women were usually ‘Assistant’ Ministers, or served the smallest churches, was commented on in front of the children! In short, only because I learned not to confuse faith in Christ with experience of the human institution we call the Church. As witnesses to Jesus who really saw and respected his sisters, we still have work to do.
May we learn to see each person we meet as unique and full of potential, fascinating, complex and beautifully made in God’s image. And where our human institutions or traditions still impose limits based on gender, may we call them out in the name of Jesus who really saw and included all his sisters.   Amen

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Anne Lewitt is a minister in the West Sussex Area Ministry

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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