A woman is a first witness to and preacher about Easter.Gospel of John
Christians place significant importance on the Bible.
The narratives of the Old and New Testament help us understand how people have sensed and understood God over nearly 3000 years. We then work with those narratives to make sense of how they were written and how to interpret them. This represents another 2000 years of insight into the divine-human encounter. A 5 Millenia reflection.
I've been spending some extra time focusing on the Gospel of John leading up to Easter. There are ideas, philosophies and insights in that book that provide a unique worldview. We don't know what John would have written in 2020 but he's given us something profound to work with. He helps us know that in Jesus we see God at work.
As part of his narrative, John tells us about some women and their great impact. Their story can be heard afresh in our time.
An unnamed woman who had a difficult life goes back to her townsfolk to tell them how an encounter with God (in Jesus) is life changing. A woman called Mary moves Jesus to tears with her tears and responds with extravagant commitment. Another Mary lives out her grief, learns the core idea of new life, and goes to tell the men.
In reality much of scripture is male-written and male-centric. This allows us to "turn up the volume of the narratives about women". But even if we don't do that, John presents his readers with a radical view of women, in the eyes of his world. A woman is a first witness to and preacher about Easter.
Over the last 18 months we have been celebrating the positive impact of ordaining women as deacons, priests and bishops in the Anglican Church. Last year Anglicans welcomed their first woman bishop into the leadership in this region.
One of our reflections following the Royal Commission was that the introduction of women's leadership represented a critical turning point in cultural reform of our church especially as women were more fully represented in decision-making roles. They helped make a positive and long-lasting difference.
An Anglican view, strongly represented in this region, sees the equal role of women in ministry as an essential part of responding to God's promises. We rejoice that the scriptures point to their transforming role in the first days of the resurrection movement. We celebrate their influence now.
Anglicans hope and pray that our world might be "God-shaped", that is, that God's aspirations for all creation might be lived out. In this region we see that women and men equally empowered and equally leading is God-shaped and God-inspired for the church and society.
In our age, may we learn from both women and men who bear God's good news to us today.
- Dr Peter Stuart is the Anglican Bishop of Newcastle. He is joined by Bishop Sonia Roulston and Bishop Charlie Murry in leading Anglicans in this region.