One of the joys of my job is doing little bits of editing so I get to read things very carefully rather than my more normal skim reading. It was a joy to read Natalie’s book as it raises so many issues that have been important to me over many years of youth work educating.
Natalie writes Seeking to have gender aware practice is not about being politically correct. It should not be motivated by quotas. As Christians, our motivation must come from a deep recognition that the current situation is not how it is meant to be. Women and men were created as equal partners, standing face to face. Yet the Fall means the spiritual principality of patriarchy is the dominant power in men’s and women’s relationships and identities. As Christians we understand that Jesus’ life, death and resurrection overcame the consequences of sin and, in obedience to God, we live a redeemed reality, no longer under those consequences. We live in the now and not yet of redemption. This includes praying and actively resisting patriarchy shaped identity. Becoming gender aware is a prophetic work, choosing the fullness of the life of Jesus offers and renouncing our complicity with a system birthed out of sin. As we continue, may the Holy Spirit stir in each of us deeper understanding of these ideas which may be new to us.
You can buy the booklet from the Grove website http://www.grovebooks.co.uk.
I would encourage some mindful reflection over the next few days of our own practice and if there is any lack of gender awareness or if assumptions or stereotypes ever creep in.
One of my favourite childhood memories is walking down country lanes looking at wildflowers with my Grandma. The hedgerows that we used to walk along are long gone as is my Grandma but she shared her knowledge and passion with me and a bit of her now lives on in me. I live less than a mile away from Spaghetti Junction in Birmingham so hedgerows are not part of my regular walks from home but this week I have been staying in a village for a study week. Late in the afternoon we have been going for a walk and again I have been struck by the beauty of hedgerows. But hedgerows are not neat and orderly, they are not well manicured, they are messy but they have an amazing beauty. This week hedgerows containing primroses, bluebells and violets with a few dead leaves, twigs, and bits of grass boundaried the footpath.
A lot of time I live with such messiness. When I look at my life there are lots of almost competing elements, some bits struggling to grow, things that have died and need to be cleared up, things that are growing, in blossom or just waiting to flower not to mention the ever lurking ivy with its potential to choke the growth of other plants. When I looked at the hedgerow and took this picture I almost missed the fragile little violet. I need to regularly reflect on my life and take notice of what the violets might be, what I might be missing unless I look closely. Sometimes it might be a person, other times a task, a post on a social networking site I need to respond to, or it could even be that I just need to spend some time just looking. I love playing with metaphors and they help me to reflect on and understand what God is doing in my life and today messy beauty is an image I want to dwell on.