Easter Morning, I sat at my desk reviewing the bulletin and going over the parts I had to lead for morning worship. Not just one red flag went up in my mind, but thousands. Rage boiled in my gut, my face suddenly hot to the touch, thousands of women screaming in my ear, a bright flash before I lost vision, I shook my head and clenched my teeth trying to swallow the unholy wrath that was about to burst into my senior pastor’s office. I took a deep cleansing breath and another; it is Easter after all. Maybe it was an accident that Mary Magdalene was left out of the call to worship. Her absence was glaring. For weeks I have been liking and sharing posts about how the good news of the resurrection was announced by a woman; that God choose her to proclaim that good news and that God still calls women to preach. My own angst was fed by a feminist fueled fire. Where is my hope now that my heroes have gone? More calming breaths. I grabbed the Book of Common Worship hoping to see Mary’s name and make a quick correction in my spoken liturgy since it was too late for the bulletin. She wasn’t there. My anger shifted to someone that was only an email away. More cleansing breaths. How could the Book of Common Worship editors let me down? They wouldn’t. I stopped myself from firing it off an email to one of the co-editors. Doubt iced over the fiery feminist fury. Maybe I have been misled. Cold tears welling in my eyes. I pulled myself together. Put on my robe and stole; my armor. And then, in worship, I read the call to worship without inserting Mary’s name, just as it was written in the bulletin. Easter worship was no place for my radical feminist ideals, I scolded myself. I felt empty, not joy-filled empty tomb empty, but the dry hollow laugh of victorious enemies over fallen heroes’ kind of empty. Embarrassed, Empty, and Alone. I did the Easter thing, but not with my whole heart. The call to worship became a shadow monster eating at me.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!
This is the good news we have received, in which we stand, and by which we are saved: Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!
That Christ died for our sins, and was buried, and rose again on the third day. Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!
He appeared to Peter, and to the twelve, and to many faithful witnesses. Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!
At last he came to us, that we might come to believe and proclaim this good news to the world. Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!Book of Common Worship, Prepared by the Office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
After worship I did some quick research. All of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, mentioned her. I come to the Garden Alone was about Mary Magdalene and the resurrected Jesus. Now I was mad at myself, disappointed really. I let the patriarchy win. I let myself down. I was supposed to be working on incorporating women into preaching, liturgy, worship, etc. Lectionary Year F, feminist; no, LectionaryYear F, failure.
But I promised myself I would not drown in my sorrow. I will choose transformation and name the water baptism, not death.
Returning home, I took a nap and spent time with family. And watched Game of Thrones.
Monday, I rested. I watched Netflix and worked on the cross-stitch birth announcement for my nephew.
Tuesday morning, I got back to work; blog, DFG set up, emails, cleaning off the cluttered desk and starting a new to-do list. I decided to send an email anyway politely asking for clarification on the liturgy. And on Wednesday, I got a validating response for which I am grateful.
The Easter liturgy in question was based on 1 Corinthians 15. Paul isn’t exactly what I would call a feminist, but I try to give him the benefit of doubt… I doubt he (like all of us) knows exactly what God was, is and will be doing. “Paul’s list of witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection does not include the women mentioned in the Gospels, though whether that is because their names were not included in the tradition Paul received or because Paul suppressed the names to avoid stoking women’s claims to enhanced status is not clear. He does promise that at the final resurrection all—women as well as men—will share equally in the glorified resurrection body of the man of heaven, ending finally all gender and status distinctions.” Women’s Bible Commentary
Today, I wrote in my Book of Common Worship copy so that next year I will read:
He appeared to Mary, and to Peter, and to the twelve, and to many faithful witnesses. Alleluia! The Lord is risen indeed!Book of Common Worship, Prepared by the Office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Period Pastor Adapted Version