Week of 4 Lent, Year One[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]
Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning) // 119:121-144 (evening)
Yesterday afternoon, I gave two lectures about the development of a threefold ordained ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons–and about the exclusion of women from these ministry roles–in the first three centuries of Christian history. Then, yesterday evening, I attended an ordination service, presided over by our bishop, ordaining a woman to the sacred order of deacons.
What an extraordinary collision of tradition and transformation. Here was that very early pattern of episcopal and diaconal ministry still in action, right before our eyes. And here also were many women filling ministry roles from which they’d been excluded for centuries. We, as a people, are continually shaped by a God whose hands respond to our capacity to change.
Our first reading this morning reminds us that it is always God’s prerogative to form his people both as he desires and as they respond. The prophet explains that when a clay vessel was spoiled, the potter “reworked it into another vessel, as seemed good to him.” The Lord declares, “Just like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.” The Lord reserves the right to change his mind about the communities in his hands, shaping them in response to whether they turn back from evil . . . or turn away from God’s voice.
We are a handmade people. We aren’t molded by machinery, nor are we amorphous organic material. Our shape evolves; our edges can be smoothed; we can be reworked into something else when we lose our form. And we need constant feedback between our changing hearts and God’s firm and gentle hands. Let’s feel these hands if we can today, steadily at work in the communities to which we belong.
Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.