Chapters 7 and 8 of Behr-Sigel’s essays centre on the central theme of Mme. Sigel’s life, the issue of women and men in the Church. As these chapters are read, it must be pointed out that the essays were written for the most part in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The reason I call this to the mind of readers is that at that time this topic was being encouraged by the general trends in ecumenical and theological scenes world-wide. Unfortunately, the extension of this movement, a more significant role for women in the Church, led to a relativism that opened the door for the current and more difficult issue within the contemporary ecumenical setting. The newest difficulty for the Orthodox is the problem of the role of practicing homosexuals, be it their “marriage” or ordination.
The beginning point is, of course, the example of Jesus and His relationship with women. The essay points out correctly Our Lord dealt with the person, not with groups. He encountered individual humans, not men or women, not colours or nationalities, nothing but a personal encounter with God was the reality of coming face to face with the Messiah. Behr-Sigel rightly calls to our attention that Jesus shattered the “tradition” of His time concerning with whom he “should” associate. Women, tax collectors, adulterers, prostitutes, Samaritans, lepers, those possessed by demons; none were taboo for the touch of the Master. These examples are telling us what is important is the person relationship with Christ, the encounter not the convention of society. Is this example borne out in the life of Church? What is the Tradition and what is tradition?]]>
Today, I would like to talk about silence. As I was growing up, my parents always referred to the Friday before the Saturday of Lazarus – as the “Silence (oi koufi)”. I always thought this was because the Akathist had finished and there wasn’t a service that night. Ok, there was silence. Now, I look at this a bit more deeply. If you remember a few years ago, there was this movement to help young people make better decisions by using the question, “What would Jesus do?” As I recall, there were even little rubber bracelets with the letters “WWJD” on them. In this case this is the question that should be asked. The Gospel reading of the Raising of Lazarus, (John 11, 1 – 45) begins with Jesus apparently hesitating to go to his friend’s aid. Well, this supposed hesitation had a real purpose, for all to see the glory of God. How was this to be accomplished? Our Lord seemingly was blasé about Lazarus’s illness and rushing to his side. After staying put for two days, Jesus prepared to go to Bethany informing His disciples that Lazarus was dead. As Jesus encountered Martha and Mary, they expressed thoughts that we all feel at sometime, “if only.” They were sure that if only Jesus had been there Lazarus wouldn’t have died, but Jesus was silent and missing. For us to truly understand Jesus’ hesitation, we need to know a bit about the Jewish teaching concerning death. At day four, in the Jewish understanding, the soul left the body in other words the body was a cadaver, a corpse. So if Lazarus was a corpse, Jesus did not simply resuscitate him. As Jesus called forth Lazarus and Lazarus walked out of his tomb Christ created life from dead matter. The Creator God bestowed life on Lazarus. Christ is God and the silence of Lazarus’ tomb was shattered. To the assembled crowd this silence was deafening.]]>