Archive for June, 2016

Not Permitted


Photo by Adele Wonnick

I decided to share this as a matter of interest, knowing full well that it may open up a can of worms for some folks.
My wonderful stepmother forwarded me an email conversation with a friend(?) of hers regarding my ordination, asking me for my opinion on it. I share it here, and my response below. Let me say that I am quite impressed with her theological prowess, as I always got the sense that she tuned out when I started talking theology.


Just thought I would share this with you both!
Clare was ordained a Priest on Sat. at the Christ Church Cathedral!
Who would of ever guessed!
xoxo Cheri


There are always surprises in our life.
This is all NEW to me.
The Bible does not permit women (females) to be Priests……….???????
Lets go back and study more
[X]……. I am so ignorant.!!!!!!


Hi [X]
Re; not permit. Does it really? or is it someones interpretation?
When you really think of it, is a woman’s understanding, thought and love less than a mans? Does the bible teach that a woman is of less value, not worthy or have less brains and not of the same quality. Are we not to be considered different but of equal value? I think some things are to be taken in a metaphorically sense from the bible because there are things they did in those days that would not be right today.
Just a little of my thoughts out loud.
;-) Cheri


I just wish that it is my interpretation,but it is not You and I can discuss this for a long time.
Not my opinion–God’s
He is not changing over the many thousands of years.
We are.


I’ll ask Clare about this subject. I would like to know too, as I will be getting similar responses and would like to give the proper reply.


Here was my response (sent only to her).


Ohhh dear. Haha.
There are lots of different Christian churches and many of them have
different beliefs on ordaining women to the priesthood. The Anglican
Church of Canada has been ordaining women since the ’70s, and we did find
biblical justification for it, although many Christians would likely not
accept the interpretation. As you say, there are many interpretations –
anyone who says that the Bible is “clear and simple” about any issue is
deluding themselves. (But don’t tell that to your friend, heh).

So folks who say that the Bible does not permit women as priests usually
refer to some passages in the letters of Paul which say that women should
not speak in church or that women should not have headship over men. It
should be noted that Jesus himself does not say anything about this
issue, and although people often argue that he only had male disciples
that too is debatable. In fact, the first people to learn that he rose
from the dead, according to the Gospel accounts, were women, and the
Gospels also have lots of stories about women following Jesus and helping
him, and even more stories of women, particularly rich ones, helping out
the infant church after he died. Jesus spoke to women and treated them as
equals in many accounts – there are a couple of stories of him having
deep theological conversations with women (check out Chapter 4 of the
Gospel of John!)

The apostle Paul also had women helping him, both building churches and
teaching: he had a friend called Phoebe who was a deacon and probably
preached to congregations. There are even people who think that another
friend of his, Priscilla, might have written the Letter to the Hebrews.

The biblical passages that talk about women not speaking in church or
having headship are somewhat problematic, in that some of them are
actually from letters that are attributed to Paul but scholars claim may
not actually have been written by him – and even if they were, these are
Paul’s words, not Jesus’. Paul never even MET the living flesh and blood
Jesus. Those letters containing the problematic passages were written
quite late, in a context where the Church was hoping to ingratiate itself
to the Roman Empire, which at the time had a much more paternalistic
attitude toward women. There are also translation issues, and of course
beliefs about people, especially women, changing over time.

The fact is that women have been in different positions of leadership in
the Church for years already, no matter what people think about it. From
the rich patronesses of the early church to Medieval monasteries with
female abbots to female hymn writers whose theology informed and
continues to inform generations of believers to nuns in the Catholic
Worker Movement, women have been doing leadership already – it’s just
that it was happening under the radar and with no recognition. (Sound
familiar?) The Anglican Church of Canada just finally decided that it was
ridiculous to bar women from full sacramental leadership because they
were women.

All of those in my church who worked to let women be ordained took wisdom
from the Holy Scriptures, the traditions of the church, and the use of
reason, as is Anglican custom.

There are many faithful Anglicans (and other types of Christians) who
really don’t believe that women should be priests and the whole thing
really tore up the Anglican Church back in the day. A lot of people left
and became Catholic!

What matters is that women have been able to be priests in the Anglican
Church of Canada since the ’70s, and since we practice apostolic
succession when we ordain people, we are linked to the Church all the way
back to the apostles/disciples, from the beginning. That means that there
is an unbroken line from my bishop to the apostle Peter. And of course,
Anglicans (and I) also believe in the Communion of Saints, which means
that I believe that there were not only living people ordaining me, but
also saints of the church who had died were doing so as well.

If you don’t want to cut and paste this whole long email, I guess you
could just tell him that in the Anglican Church of Canada we have been
ordaining women for about forty years, and that is the church into which
I have been ordained, so yes, it’s allowed. Whether or not he thinks the
church is a legitimate church is his own concern. I’m the one with the
legal paperwork. ;)

Love you!

Welcome to my life now.
Wouldn’t change it for anything.

“We haunted ones,” (Sermon, June 5th 2016)

11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’ 14Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, rise!’ 15The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, ‘A great prophet has risen among us!’ and ‘God has looked favourably on his people!’ 17This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

– Luke 7:11-17


Several years ago I a completed a basic unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. Clinical Pastoral Education is a program of study which takes place in a clinical setting like a hospital and requires the student to both offer spiritual and emotional care to patients and, in a sense, receive the same themselves from their supervisor and fellow students.

I did my unit, which lasted for three months, at St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver. On my ward, which was General Surgery, I saw a lot of what I’ll call humanity in the raw.

On my very first day, I received a care request from a nurse, and went up to see someone who had just woken up after a major amputation. This person had had a rough life. They had come in alone and were expecting no visitors.

The nurse said to me, “He’s really upset. I just thought he could use someone to talk to.”

She led me into the room.

On the bed was the patient, every muscle in tight, hard knots, pressed back into the pillow, just howling at the top of his lungs with despair.

I looked over at the nurse, and she turned and left, shutting the door behind her.

“I guess we’re doing this,” I thought.

When someone experiences a major amputation, they are taught to expect phantom pain, the weird sensation of the continued presence and pain of the amputated body part, as the brain tries to re-calibrate itself to accept its new reality without it. Human beings actually have more than five senses, and I’m not even referring to ESP. The fact that I can close your eyes and still have an idea of where my hand is in relation to my body is a sense, and I wouldn’t really lose that sense if I lost this hand.

If the brain has this sense, how much more does the heart in times of grief and loss. The phantom pain that comes with the brain reaching out into emptiness to find that lost limb, I think, is quite easily compared to the phantom pain from the heart reaching out into emptiness to find the beloved that has been lost.

My patient knew this. The first words out of his mouth were a lament, not for his lost limb, but for the family he never knew.

Every loss comes with a ghost, whether we believe that literally or figuratively. And the more ghosts there are, the harder it is to feel whole.

Today’s story made me think of this. This widow of Nain is a haunted woman. It’s bad enough to be a widow today, but back then it could be a death sentence, especially if the widow had no children.Miracle of the Widow of Nain_Minniti

How cruel indeed for this woman, who had a son who has now also been lost. She is crying not only for him, but for herself. And since he would have been her only source of support, she could look forward to more ghosts: the loss of her home, her agency, her health, even her life.

Despite her despair, this woman follows the rites prescribed to her, as we all manage to do in times like this. Her child is carried out on a simple palette, wrapped in cloth, likely with the face exposed. Accompanying such a procession was believed to be a mitzvah, a good deed that observant Jews could not shirk, so the whole town has come out to accompany her. They are on their way out of town, for bodies could not be buried within the boundaries, as they were ritually impure.

And from the opposite end of the town comes Jesus with the crowd, who are still amazed at the healing of the centurion’s slave that we heard about last week.

What a compelling image: two processions coming together at the gate – life, and death.

Jesus pauses as he sees the woman. He is moved with compassion – a sense of suffering with her.

In a deeply prophetic moment Jesus reaches out and touches the bier on which the dead man lies, rendering himself ritually impure. The parade of life and the parade of death have truly met. But at his touch, the parade of death stops. There is a waiting, a held breath, and then, the triumph of life.

We do not hear what the son says. The story is not about him, but about his mother. Like last week this healing story is more about the caregiver than the person healed, and yet this story is a beautiful counterpoint to last week’s, because while last week Jesus focused on the faith of the centurion, this story has nothing to do with faith. Jesus sees the woman weeping and has compassion. He reaches out to touch death, and the veil is thrown back.

The man rises and begins to speak. He is given to his mother. All is restored.


There are several pieces of this story that are still challenging. The most obvious challenge is that there are still ghosts left over.

The woman is still a widow.

So is the woman who fed Elijah with her never-ending meal and oil.

The last time I saw my patient before he left the hospital, he had a prosthetic leg and was walking up and down the hall with it. He’d made a fantastic recovery. He smiled at me.

But his eyes were still sad.

God makes people whole, but that man’s leg will never grow back.

There are still ghosts in this room, among all of us.

So what can this story possibly tell us, we haunted ones?

Perhaps the key lies in comparing the stories of these two widows. Neither of them have managed to fully escape the ghosts or hardships of their lives. But both of them find themselves experiencing intimate encounters with the divine at a period of deepest night, and through those encounters they are not really saved, but empowered by God.

The woman who met Elijah is expected to offer the same hospitality that any other woman would offer. She is the one God chooses to be lifted up, even though she is outside the community, waiting to die alone, and so Elijah seeks her out rather than avoiding her. Later, Elijah wrestles with God on her behalf, and her son is restored. All of this occurs in private, outside the walls of the community, to highlight the significance of this woman’s personal journey.

The widow of Nain, surrounded by those who would mourn with her but may then desert her, is comforted, then given back a portion of what she has lost. It is not just that the man gets up and starts talking. Jesus gives him back to his mother. Her son is her bread and oil as well as her beloved child. All of this occurs in public, just before they manage to cross outside the boundaries, to show the community that this woman is not to be abandoned, that she is blessed.

What can this story tell us, we haunted ones?

When you feel beset by your ghosts, keep on the lookout for God, in public and private. The Spirit has a habit of showing up where she’s least expected. You may yet feel her hovering over you, sowing seeds of power within you.

But let us also, as the incarnate Body of Christ, walk in Christ’s ways. Who do you know that needs to encounter God in private and in public?

Who occupies the space of a widow today in your life? Who are people who are cut off from help, whose agency is threatened? Who are people who are avoided, whose grief is carried by others for a little while but then dropped, consciously or unconsciously?

In prayer, ask God to show them to you. Then, meet them, just outside the city walls.

Be at the head of the parade of life.

Try as hard as you can to avoid platitudes. Jesus didn’t bother with them. Only, “Don’t cry. I am with you.”

Then, touch them. Be willing to become ritually unclean, whatever that means to you. Surrender to God the need to be busy and productive; remember the old pastoral care adage goes, “Don’t just do something – sit there.”

Wait just outside the city walls, and you will see resurrection.

You will be resurrection.