The excerpt below is in reference to a woman’s role in the church, but it can apply to so many individuals and situations.
I’ve got an idea for you. Let’s be done lobbying for a seat at the Table. You know–that fabled “Table” we all talk about: “We just want a seat at the Table!” we say. It’s the Table where all the decisions are made. Gatekeepers surround it, all reading the same books, spouting the same talking points, quoting each other back and forth, vilifying or mocking their straw men and women. It’s the Table where coalitions and councils metaphorically sit in swivel chairs to discuss who is in and who is out, who is right (usually each other) and who is wrong (everyone else), and the perennial topic of whether women should be allowed to teach or preach or even read Scripture aloud. We’ve heard a lot about how men and women should think or act or look, how marriages should look, how children should be raised; and there’s a good amount of social arguing, divisive labeling, name-calling, and even a bit of consigning-to-hell.
All to often, we abdicate our souls to these gatekeeper edicts. We’re a bit quick to choose a new shepherd instead of a rabbi from Nazareth, and we’re all like ancient Israel longing for a “real” king we can see and follow.
Look at this sky above us. Look up and see God’s first cathedral. May you rest in your place in the story of God for a while and slow your urgent scrabbling breath here tonight. It didn’t begin with us; it won’t end with us, and who wants to live in an ivory tower when there is fresh air to breathe anyway.
I want to be outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, second-chance givers, the radical grace lavishers, the ones with arms wide open, the courageously vulnerable, and among even–or maybe especially–the ones rejected by the Table as not worthy enough or right enough.
The Table may be loud and dominant, but love and freedom are spreading like yeast. I see hope creeping in, destabilizing old power structures. I feel it in the ground under my feet. I hear it in the stories of the people of God living right now. We’re whispering to each other, eyes alight, “Aslan is on the move.” Can’t you feel that? The kingdom is breathing among us already.
-Rachel Held Evans, Introduction to “Jesus Feminist”