There is a reason why it is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s because images convey reality with lasting force and intensity, an intensity that trumps words every time. For this reason, no matter what we SAY about who we are–as a church, for example–if the visual images we put in front of people don’t testify to that reality, what they will remember is what they have seen, not what they have heard.
So, for example, you can’t profess to be a church that promotes and celebrates women in ministry, while at the same time signifying visually that men (and, let’s just say it plainly, white men) are the ones with the power. Such a symbol, particularly when unconscious and unintended, begs for correction–done, of course, in a spirit of love and fidelity to the gospel, particularly for the sake of those who long to see themselves reflected there.
So, there may have been a bit of feminist ecclesial disobedience at a wonderful ordination celebration tonight–and I may have been especially pleased to stand with a former student and friend as we laid hands on a newly-minted pastor, humbled as we participated in the work of the Holy Spirit. May She continue to blow with wisdom, compassion and courage through this church I love so dearly, all its members, and indeed, the whole world.