I recently quit the choir, primarily because I realized that I was having trouble praying while singing.  It took me a long time to make this decision since I couldn’t understand how it is that I could sing the liturgy and not be praying.  I am not sure I have ever regularly attended a church and not been in the choir.  Any number of factors probably contributed to the problem: concentrating on timing, the music, singing in a language I do not actually speak.  All of these things can distract from actually praying rather than just mouthing the words I sing in (thought not always) tune.  At other times in my life, these elements were not distracting, but they were now for whatever reason.  It was just time for a break.

My first Sunday standing in the congregation was, well, surprising.  I must admit, I sang virtually everything I would have sung had I been in the choir.  I am not sure I am able to participate in liturgy without singing.  At various points though, I didn’t sing.  Sometimes, I read the translation (if it was in Greek).  A number of times, I read the prayers along with the priest.  And it was wonderful, reading these prayers.

I had ample opportunity to read scripture this past Holy Week, as close as I get any more to “preaching the good news.”  During Holy Week, significant sections of the Psalter are read, and the otherwise too rare opportunity to read texts from the Hebrew scriptures is plentiful.  As is my custom, I modify the language a bit.

 

This past Sunday celebrated the Myrrh-bearing Women: Mary Magdalene, Mary the Theotokos, Joanna, Salome, Mary the wife of Cleopas, Susanna, and Mary and Martha of Bethany. These women, according to the testimony of the Gospels, were the first witnesses to the resurrection, the first to deliver the good news to the followers of Jesus hiding away from the crucifying authorites. The Troparion of the day records the angel’s command to the women to go, cry “The Lord is risen, granting the world great mercy."  The Kontakion declares them apostles commanded to preach the Resurrection:

JK Rowling on why she will not be voting Tory in the upcoming British Elections.  In case you don't follow British politics, that would be the British party that shares similar rhetorical values with the GOP.  Courtesy of 3quarkesdaily via Crooked Timber.  

I had become a single mother when my first marriage split up in 1993. In one devastating stroke, I became a hate figure to a certain section of the press, and a bogeyman to the Tory Government. Peter Lilley, then Secretary of State at the DSS, had recently entertained the Conservative Party conference with a spoof Gilbert and Sullivan number, in which he decried “young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list”. The Secretary of State for Wales, John Redwood, castigated single-parent families from St Mellons, Cardiff, as “one of the biggest social problems of our day”. (John Redwood has since divorced the mother of his children.) Women like me (for it is a curious fact that lone male parents are generally portrayed as heroes, whereas women left holding the baby are vilified) were, according to popular myth, a prime cause of social breakdown, and in it for all we could get: free money, state-funded accommodation, an easy life.

Question: So many opportunities exist for women in the Church, why are you so concerned about the priesthood? Women can be parish council presidents, Sunday school teachers, the wives of priests, why do they need more? Why can't you be satisfied with what you already have?

Show me the suffering of the most miserable;
So I will know my people's plight.
Free me to pray for others;
For you are present in every person.
Help me take responsibility for my own life;
So that I can be free at last.
Grant me courage to serve others;
For in service there is true life.
Give me honesty and patience;
So that the Spirit will be alive among us.
Let the Spirit flourish and grow;
So that we will never tire of the struggle.
Let us remember those who have died for justice;

“I can’t imagine women in the altar, as priests, deacons, alter servers….”  These are the words of a kind and thoughtful 91-year old man who has spent his whole life in the church, whose children serve the church in a variety of significant capacities.  His is a distressed response to what was likely the first conversation he has ever heard regarding the possibility of women priests in the Orthodox church.

There is really nothing I can add to the flurry of excellent commentary which has erupted on the internet since last night. But I am so proud to stand with a 106-year-old black woman and say that I too voted for someone who, only a short century ago, would not have been allowed to participate in his governance, much less be the president. It is my hope and prayer that the long arc of history continues to bend towards justice.

[quote=President-elect Barack Obama]This victory alone is not the change we seek; it is only the chance for us to make that change.

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My sister and I had a series of interesting discussions when Palin was first picked.  We went from shock at the apparent stupidity of the decision, the sheer ridiculousness of the idea that she will appeal to women, to a sort of grudging admiration for the apparent brilliance (intentional or not) of the pick.  At first, we laughed at the idea of a beauty queen as president.  But do we really want to assert that beauty and brains can't go together (even if they periodically don't)?

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