I have always been fascinated by the treatment of the women in the Easter story. Luke tells us how the disciples received the news of an empty tomb which the women brought: ‘these words seemed to them an idle tale and they did not believe them’.
Sadly we have to say this is nothing unusual. Religion as a phenomenon of human life for the past 4,000 years has gone along with the second-class status of women in almost all cultures. Indeed sometimes religion has made it worse and that certainly includes Christianity. Through the centuries men have used their power and, sadly, women have been used and abused in the process.
All very interesting, you may say, but where is the Gospel message in all of this? It comes in an aspect of the ministry of Jesus himself. Unlike teachers in other cultures and unlike most of the rabbis of his time Jesus had no problem with women as his followers. Sadly the Church soon reverted to the common prejudice. So we can acknowledge that in every century women were the exception among spiritual leaders – though there were always some. And we are about to welcome a woman minister here to Glenorchy.
There is a lesson for us as we seek to reflect the message of the Gospel; we are called to transmit the love of God in Christ in the way we live our lives and in the way we live as a church in this town. In his treatment of women, as in so much else, Jesus pushed the boundaries of what his culture thought was fitting.
The bottom line is that we are all equal in the sight of God and in the love of God. ‘Let no-one be a stranger’ could have been said by Jesus himself, even when it damaged his reputation. In him we see just how free from discrimination and prejudice the love of God really is. In short:- there is no-one you will meet this week whom God does not love.
Revd Peter Brain