I do not have any biological sisters or daughters.
Yet, my oh my, I have a lot of “sisters” and “daughters,” many whom have been a part of my life for a very long time.
My mother was a pioneer in her profession, and had the inner strength to raise three boys when her beloved husband suddenly died far too young.
Alongside my mother there were teachers, coaches, and my first spiritual director – all women who continue to shape and influence my life. And now I am blessed beyond measure to be married to an amazing, incredible, intelligent, creative, witty woman.
Every one of these women have had varying degrees of negative experiences because of their gender. I know this because I have witnessed it first hand and I have heard their stories. These stories, compounded with their willingness to lovingly enlighten me to my own behaviors, actions and assumptions that perpetuate these negative experiences, have been critical in both my own behavioral changes and advocacy for changes from others.
Lent is always an invitation. An opportunity for us individually and collectively to reflect on our relationship with God, with the world and who God is calling us to be. What sins, what behaviors, actions, stand between, or are causing a divide between, ourselves and God, ourselves and our neighbor, ourselves and the image of God who we are being called to manifest?
The Presiding Bishop and the President of the House of Deputies have issued an invitation,
“Our church must examine its history and come to a fuller understanding of how it has handled or mishandled cases of sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse through the years. When facts dictate, we must confess and repent of those times when the church, its ministers or its members have been antagonistic or unresponsive to people—women, children and men—who have been sexually exploited or abused. And we must acknowledge that in our church and in our culture, the sexual exploitation of women is part of the same unjust system that also causes gender gaps in pay, promotion, health and empowerment.” Click here to read their full statement.
Fundamentally, from my theological perspective, it comes back to the commitment we all make in our Baptismal Covenant:
Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, REPENT and RETURN to the Lord?
Will you seek and serve Christ in ALL persons, loving your NEIGHBOR as yourself?
Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and RESPECT the dignity of EVERY human being?
As is stated in our Ash Wednesday liturgy:
“I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.”
My hope and prayer for all of us is that we will respond, “I will, with God’s help.”