“What do you do?” a man at a party asks, my friend (who’s party it is, tenses next to me).
“I’m a minister.”
My friend is a lifelong Catholic and is now a campus minister for a catholic high school, all the other friends at the party are also lifelong Catholics and teach in this Catholic High School.
He looks at me, “Oh, like a youth minister?” “No.” “Like what Mary does, a campus minister?” “No, like a real minister, like a priest.”
“How does that work?” He asks. I go on to explain that in my denomination we believe that both women and men are called to ministry, that God does not see superiority in the male sex. “Oh… well… I believe that too.” He says. Un-huh.
Last September an article Steven Colbert gave about his Catholicism and his first experience with a female priest in the anglican church presiding over communion appeared. In his conversation he was talking about unity and the possibility of female priests in the Catholic Church. He spoke directly about feeling moved when hearing the words, “This is my body” from a woman.
This article appeared again last week on my Facebook timeline as well as countless other articles about Stanford rapist, Brock Turner’s obscene 6 month conviction, then of course there was the letter from his father describing “20 minutes of action”, and then countless others who described people’s outrage as unreasonable and called it being “politically correct.”
I am heartbroken, again. I’m tired of fighting the “my body has just as many rights as your body” fight. I’m tired of jokes about women being inferior. I’m tired of someone telling me or my daughter they can’t do something because we were born with lady parts. I’m tired, but I won’t stop.
The woman who Brock Turner raped was unconscious, she doesn’t remember anything, she was passed out. Guess what? Still rape. Her body was raped. Her body, is her. The body remembers trauma even if the person was unconscious.
We live in a rape culture or a society which blames their victims for rape. She was asking for “it” by the way she… danced, dressed, talked, drank, was alone… I mean… she should have known better. WHY DOES SHE NEED TO “KNOW” BETTER?
As one meme put it, “What did she expect?” “She expected a hangover.”
Anyway, these two articles one after the other got me thinking. As a female pastor I have certainly been demeaned by religions and denominations that “do not allow” female pastor, I’ve been called an abomination over and over again in my life. I have also been praised for being a female in a male dominated world. I’m proud that over my dozen years of ministry there are children that will never know that women can’t be ministers. But being a female pastor is not the same as being a female CEO.
Last week I stood in front of the congregation I serve, took the bread and broke it, and said, “This is my body, broken for you.” My body is part of my job, in priestly garment, I imitate all the priests that came before me, I imitate Christ in his words and actions. “This is my body,” I say, remembering the night of his betrayal, “broken for you.”
It hit me all of a sudden. The weight, the enormity of those words in a whole new way. I was speaking, imitating Christ in that moment. I, a woman who’s body has been abused by men, a woman who has been raped, a woman who is looked at as a piece of meat by men, judged by my body parts, not as a whole person.
What would it mean if we could shift our thinking out of seeing a woman’s body as an object? And what if that started at the Communion Table?
Those words are powerful. Jesus was about to have his body stripped, beaten, and stabbed. He was about to experience the most cruel and gruesome death. His body abused by the government who is supposed to bring justice and protect their most vulnerable citizens, or at least hear all as equals and not give into the voices of the powerful.
He was giving up his body, so we wouldn’t have to.
“This is my body, broken for you.” Jesus says to me.
“This is my body, broken for you” Jesus says to all the Jane Doe’s out there.
“This is my body, broken for you.” I say remembering the night Jesus was betrayed.
This is the body of Christ, broken for you. These are the gifts of God for the people of God. Freedom from sin, salvation, wholeness, new life, resurrection, love, mercy, and grace.
A rock star from the start, the Reverend Shannon Meacham belted out a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a minor in institutional spiritual matters that most people don’t believe in anyway, from the University of Louisville. Because she couldn’t get enough of the annoying ways people say “Loueyville” she moved across town to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary for a Master of Divinity, a degree for young idealists and middle age crazies. Before the institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) self-imploded they were kind enough to hand out a piece of paper saying “Go forth and be an underpaid secretary in the name of God.” Shannon is the mother of two exhausting children Maggie and Gus. She currently serves Ashland Presbyterian Church in the safest part of Baltimore, the suburbs. You can find her musings about any and all subjects on her personal blog pulpitshenanigans.com.
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