I am thinking again, as I did in a recent post, about my grandmother who died before I was born. I only have a few stories my dad has shared with me about her, and I have not really internalized all of them. But she comes to mind again this Mother’s Day because one of the tales I know of her is how she frequently got called in for disciplinary meetings with the elders from her church, not for her flagrant sins, but for her passion to serve Jesus in ways they did not appreciate!
In the 1950’s and 60’s, women had little or no voice in the church. That was true almost all the way across the board in American churches. But in churches of Christ, there were also divisions about whether to support financially children’s homes. Yes, this was one of the issues that actually divided many churches where some were for it and others against it. And it turns out that Grandmother was for it when her church was against it.
She apparently ran afoul with church leadership for insisting on providing care to this ministry. She was no Bible scholar, but she knew this is how you love Jesus. And speaking up about it got her in trouble on two fronts, and apparently this was not the only time or the only issue.
Today, both issues seem mind-numbingly stupid. Women can speak – even lead in a lot of quarters – and funding orphanages is also a no-brainer. Only a few stubborn old codgers out there resist this anymore, and no one cares what they think. So, I guess you might say Grandmother was ahead of her time.
But you know what, I am not actually comforted with the idea that she was “ahead of her time”. I don’t think our time is any better, even though these issues are matters of the past now. And I find myself in meetings with the elders now too, not unlike Grandmother before me, for similar issues which really should be no-brainers, but apparently not for our time.
Actually, this may really be a timeless feature of Christian faith. Look at St. Paul racing to meetings with church leaders on the one hand and being hauled before the Jewish Council and Roman officials on the other. Even his fellow apostles face such scrutiny from religious leaders. And that is not to mention Jesus himself! They all got together to figure out a way to kill him! Yeah, this is a dynamic that seems to just go with living by faith in God.
At any rate, I think it is good to give Grandmother honorable mention again today. Her example gives me strength. And I would be really pleased for my church leaders to stop in and read this. I hope it gives you a little fresh perspective.