Women, Wisdom and Leadership
Yesterday, at lunch time on day one of the annual Synod / Presbytery meeting of the Uniting Church in SA, I attended a lunch that I had helped to organise. This lunch was for women, and came out of a vision of a friend of mine, Sue, to create space for women to gather for mutual support and encouragement as we engage in ministry in the Uniting Church.
It was a fabulous event. Such enthusiasm as people entered the room, like they had been waiting for such an opportunity to gather for so long!
We had invited Liz, Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible lecturer at Uniting College, to lead us in a reflection on Sophia / Lady Wisdom. She appears in Proverbs mostly, and some apocryphal books. It was fantastic to hear Liz's thoughts on what we can find in Lady Wisdom as inspiration for a female approach to leadership. The image of women as leaders in the picture of Lady Wisdom is of relationship, invitation, hospitality. And Liz challenged us to resist accepting the status quo of structures and patterns of organisation in the church, instead bringing the gift of our feminine approach to being and to leading. We were challenged to look for ways to embody the sense of fun and play that Wisdom brings to her engagement with God, humanity and creation. What would it look like to invite a sense of play into the meetings of the church?
Interestingly, as I shared all this with Mum at dinner last night, it reminded her of the suggestion she made for congregational meetings at Blackwood when she was secretary of the congregation. The congregational meetings happen as part of the morning worship, which is a combined worship when usually there are two worship spaces of a Sunday morning. The meetings go on for some time, it's a big congregation and there is a lot happening in the life of this community, so there is a lot of business. Mum suggested that people bring something to contribute for morning tea - offering hospitality to one another. And there hasn't been a complaint since about the way the congregational meetings are organised.
And this reminded me of the way the Black Wood Jazz would plan - I resisted calling our planning 'meetings'. Instead, we met for afternoon tea each month, late on a Friday afternoon. We would have beer or glass of wine, milkshake or cup of tea, and there would often be a bowl of wedges on the table. This was as much building relationship as it was planning the Black Wood Jazz spaces we created.
So it is a natural thing for us as women to offer hospitality, to build relationships, as the way we lead.
Another thing I noticed was as Liz made mention, on the side, of the hospitality that Wisdom offered - in bread and wine.
Now, I think I have blogged my less traditional approach to naming and envisaging the Trinity as Creator, Wisdom Spirit? Well, to view the second person of the Trinity as Wisdom not Word, and to see Jesus as the incarnation of this aspect of the Divine, in the light of the picture of Wisdom in Proverbs, is to see some integrity, some continuity in the picture of Wisdom, of Jesus as Wisdom incarnate. Just throwing that out there - love to know what you think!
I have some more thoughts on hospitality in the light of a book I have just read, Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson. I shall blog those another time.
But it was interesting to read on Chris McLeod's blog his reflections on women, leadership and community in the story of Ruth.