Equal Calling

As I studied last week, my attention was drawn to the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians, verses 2-16.  As a female in ministry I am intrigued by scripture that, when taken at face value, might appear to suggest inadequacy of women in the preaching of God’s word.

“I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just a I passed them on to you.  But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” (vs. 2-3).

One could stop right there and declare that women are to be under the direction of men, as the man will receive his direction from God.  But hold on just a minute, and forward to “Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman.  But everything comes from God.” (vs. 11-12).  So it is just that, man created from dust, woman created from man, both created by God.  Two beings that exist in community with the other, equality created.

This passage reflects on the customs of covering one’s head during worship, relevant at the time of writing.  A bit of a play on words, this is a shift referring to an individual’s physical head, rather than an order of importance.

“For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man.  For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man;” (vs. 6-8)  “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.” (vs. 13-15)

Hair is the first issue of covering oneself and it is not about value or order, but instead about the social rules of the time.  Women were expected to wear their hair long, men to wear their hair short, nothing more or less.  Other times in history spoke to the length of hair as well…those crazy Beetles in the 60s with their radical long hair, Dorothy Hamill with her risky short hair in the 80s.  As we transition to the covering of one’s head with a piece of material.  This was nothing more than an identifying factor.  With a covered head, one would be identified as a woman.  She would also be identified as a married woman, acknowledging her love and commitment to her husband and her respect for him.

In the midst of right or wrong attire, one thing is clear in this passage, both men and women are leaders in God’s church.

“Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head.  But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head – it is the same as having her head shaved.” (vs. 4-5).

This isn’t about what gender stands in front of a church it is about having respect for that position.

A Letter to Our Leaders of Tomorrow, by Ms. Kim

Dear Children that I Love and Children I May Never Meet,

This world refers to you as our leaders of tomorrow, but I’m afraid we as grown ups are failing to teach you how to lead. Often your days are filled with scary news of people hurting each other or themselves. You hear meanness in the words adults speak. Sometimes those adults are someone you love. Technology has made our world a really cool place, but it too can be frightening. Your world seems darker than the childhoods of your parents or grandparents. But being discouraged is not the answer.

Boys, girls, young women, and young men, this world needs you. We need you for change to happen. We need you to remember that God expects us to love each other. Grown ups, sometimes really important grown ups, may say things you know are wrong. Maybe that is bad language or words meant to bully or hurt someone’s feelings. The world needs you to have courage to say those things are wrong. When that courage is too hard to find, and darlings some days it will be, just pray. Pray for the adult and pray for yourself and your friends, because this world needs you to be different. Kiddos, we need you to listen so that you can learn. Sadly, the grown ups in your life often need some help with this too. This world is made up of all types of people, all types of families, all types of religions, and all types of beautiful skin tones and heritage. People of this world also make choices in their lives. Even in your young lives you know that not everyone makes the same choices. This is tricky. You too will have the power to make choices about the way you live your life. Remember this, other people’s choices are important in your life, even when you don’t agree with them. Watching the choices of others will guide you to follow or go a different way. But, when you choose that different way, and many times you will need to, don’t make things worse by being unkind or hating the other person. This isn’t your job and it makes your, brain, heart, and body feel like you are carrying too many books in your backpack. Most importantly, listen to others. Just listen sweet ones. Listening doesn’t mean agreeing, listening means respect.

So precious leaders of tomorrow, you have such an important place in our world. Do not be afraid, but instead be different because that difference is power. I hope you are practicing all your basic manners, things like “please and thank you”, holding the door for someone older than yourself and always for a lady and sharing with others. Those are all important. Even more important is to remember that the person older than you might just have great wisdom. The women in this world have valuable minds and bodies worth respecting. The words you speak with politeness and care tell the world that you have character. By letting your light shine, you can lead by example those younger than you and hopefully some adults too.

Take your power,

Ms. Kim

Relationships Over Racism

Guest blogger, Kim Divelbiss, Minister to Children…

Another shooting makes the papers. Is the shooter a white cop, a member of ISIS, or a teenager? Does it really matter? Someone still died. Regardless of the players, the motive is the same…fear and hate. We can analyze various religions, ethnic differences, parenting styles, education and socio economic issues, but does that help? More importantly, as proclaimed Jesus followers, does it align with His example? My argument is no. When we judge, stereotype, and avoid those different than us, we go directly against God’s teachings.

I love the book of James. What a convenient little manual to walking in the way of Jesus. In chapter 2, James spells out the expectations regarding treatment of our fellow human and the sin in ranking people:

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole laws and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery, also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:1-13, NIV

As I read this passage, I fall back on what I know the best, parenting, particularly special needs parenting. Half the battle in parenting is staying ahead of the game and warding off tantrums, fall aparts, freak outs, or whatever your household calls them. If we viewed violence, killings, and discrimination as childish freak outs could we begin to prevent them? If, as Jesus followers, we nurtured, mentored, loved, even just paid attention to the poor, the struggling, the angry, the hurt, and the broken could we make a difference? After all, who of us has not been in an ugly place at least once in our life? What if we looked past the dress, the hygiene, the language, and the color of skin and saw people as those whom God loves? What if we even ministered to the haters, modeling kindness to those with a hardened heart?

The violence in our world is a snowball quickly rolling downhill, gathering content and speed. Should it be possible to stop that snowball, it is still going to take a long time to melt. So what can we do as individuals, as the church, as ambassadors for Jesus? Think small. You heard me correctly, I said think small to combating a huge problem. Step out of your comfort zone and strike up a conversation in the grocery store line with someone you wouldn’t otherwise acknowledge. Pick up $5.00 of clearance school supplies at Target and drop them off to an underprivileged school. Mentor a child that has parents struggling to appropriately parent. Better yet, mentor that child’s parents. Volunteer your time to tutor a child. Set an example. Don’t refer to a person by the color of their skin, their disability, the uniform they wear, or the neighborhood in which they reside. Ask questions. We often fear what we don’t understand. Teach your children. Teach them love and kindness. Teach them to stand up against bullying. Teach them that all of God’s children have gifts. Teach them that confidence is not the same as abusing power or looking down on others. Most importantly we can pray, we can listen, we can forgive, and we can acknowledge that God loves all of His people.

On the Inside: The Church and Mental Ilness

Guest Blogger, Kim Divelbiss, Children’s Minister…

One in five children have mental illness (.http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/one-five-children-mental-illness-schools-often-dont-help/).  The latest Center For Disease Control statics show 1 in every 45 children to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.  While we could spend hours debating the cause of these rising numbers, what if we just accepted the numbers and asked ourselves what this means to us as Jesus followers, individually and as a church body?

 

In guiding the church of Corinth, Paul describes the need for all parts of our physical bodies, including our unseen internal organs, stating “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices” (1 Corinthians 12:26, NIV).  As I recently watched the Olympics, I can see that humanity is pretty good at honoring and rewarding those gifted with physical strength and skill.  We are even sensitive to those physically impaired as we share in the joy of blades rather than feet carrying a runner across the finish line.  But what about the child, and equally as important the family, affected by a suffering brain?

 

As we strive to follow the example of Christ, what if we could just offer our hands and hearts to those impaired by a brain that works differently?  Instead of judging the sensory challenged child that licks the church floor at every opportunity, what if we had the courage to ask that child’s parents if we could buy their child his/her favorite snack as a reward and distraction on Sundays?  What if we had the strength to get up from our seat in worship to sit quietly in the hall praying over the parent juggling a child melting down?  Or when the child with reactive attachment disorder comes to us for a hug after rejecting their family’s love, what if we simply said, “I care for you, but your family truly loves you and would really appreciate a hug.”  For the teenager that uses anger to conceal their depression, our smile or kind words might be the only way they feel the love of Jesus in their darkness.  For the mother of an anxious child, the words “I’m so glad your child joined the others for children’s time” can be the reinforcement she needs to get up and parent again tomorrow.

 

When a member of our church family has a death, we respond doing our part to help those who are grieving feel nurtured and comforted.  When one of our flock is given a diagnosis of heart disease, Parkinson’s, or cancer, we rally with support.  Mental illness is often avoided, leaving families isolated.  As the church, may we be inspired to let the love of our Heavenly Father pour out of us onto all those we encounter, illness and brokenness is not always visible.