ANGELA TILBY CELEBRATES FEMALE ORDINATION.
"We are right to celebrate ...women’s priestly ministry. We are right to be thankful to God and grateful, so grateful, for being alive at this time, and of being able to respond to the challenge of faithful change. "
We have been part of a huge change, yet one which has clearly brought new life and confidence both to the Church and to the communities we serve. The prophecies of doom turned out to be empty. Women priests have not unhinged the Church, nor upset its creedal orthodoxy, nor its commitment to the three-fold order of ministry...
The Christian Church has always struggled to make God’s treasure accessible. Failure to bring out what is old and what is new has been behind most schisms, most heresies...
[We] have to hold to a dynamic understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit. If you look at the history of the Church since the great schism you can see Catholics and Protestants alike lurching from rigidity to revolution and back again with alarming frequency.
But there is a more excellent way. Mary of Bethany chose the better part, the part of love. She sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to him. She sat in the place of the rabbi’s pupil, a scribe in training, a place that tradition alone did not and could not give her. (Matthew’s scribe is compared to a male householder, whose maleness survives even the blanket universality of the New Revised Standard Version.) Mary’s faithful persistence transformed that tradition: the old and the new were woven together at the feet of the Lord.
When a woman stands at the altar she is clothed in the mystery of Christ: she represents that mystery which is the life of all the baptised. But when I think of how she does that I have always been encouraged by the icon of the Virgin of the Sign, in which the Church itself is represented as a praying woman. She is the blessed Virgin who stands with arms outstretched. On her heart is the living icon, Jesus Christ, who has opened wide his arms for us. She embraces him; he embraces us. This is what our priesthood means, for the treasure within, the pearl of great price is not something we possess or own, but the endless gift of God, that beauty ever ancient and ever new, Jesus Christ himself.
To him, our great High Priest, be glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
FOR MORE OF HER THOUGHTS SEE HER SERMON