In Conversation With…5 Storytellers and Each Other

19th November 2013 Participants were welcomed to Contemporary Christianity and the evening began with a quotation from the introduction to the Lenten Study produced by the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland 2013, on Gender Justice: “So, in general terms, what does gender justice look like? In more specific terms, what does gender justice look like in Ireland and in our own communities? How might our lives need to change in order to bear witness to the God revealed in the Scriptures? These are some of the big questions that are addressed by this year’s theme. As ever, the answers do not just fall effortlessly off the page. If, in the spirit of Proverbs 2:4, we are to ‘make our ears attentive to wisdom’, then we will need to read, talk and pray as if we are searching for hidden treasure. We will then move beyond simply an intellectual engagement with our topic and, in very practical ways, we will begin to model communities in which justice between the genders is a reality. We will, then, be able to live as men and women made in the image of God and re-made within the new humanity of Jesus Christ.” The shape of the evening was described as follows:
  • Stories from the front – a chance to hear a little snippet from the life of the storyteller. These are real life stories. They are offered to help us consider the topic from the different perspectives of the tellers. We won’t be questioning or challenging them on what they have offered – just listening.
  • An opportunity to share our own experience of faith and gender with a few people around us.
  • Three more stories
  • And some bible passages to look at together in small groups (ending by 9.30pm as usual, when you might want to finish off the last of the snacks and any particularly interesting conversation you have been having)
So we will be listening together in different ways over the evening. Let us approach the event with curiosity.

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 The first three stories were offered by Helen, Mike and Ulli. Then participants were asked the question: ‘What needs to change?’ And had an opportunity for sharing their own experiences in 3s, before sharing thoughts in full plenary. An input was offered on the Ethnic Frontier model, considering the power relations between men and women and pondering the shape of the future. We had a second set of prepared stories from Åsa, Stephen and Cheryl. These were followed with a biblical exploration ‘Imaging a New Eden – health in gender roles and relationships’, with the question: ‘What theological resources might we consider for reflection?’ For this last part of the evening together, participants were given the following Bible references so they could choose a set to study together in small groups. (These references were drawn from the Biblical Association of the Church of Ireland’s Lenten Bible studies for 2013.)

Pushing Social Boundaries

Numbers 27: 1-11

Matthew 15: 21-28

Sin, responsibility & justice

Genesis 38

John 8: 1-11

Gentile women in Nehemiah & Acts

Nehemiah 13

Acts 13: 11-24

Power, abuse, victimhood & mutuality

2 Samuel 13

Ephesians 5: 10-13, 21-33

Destitution, determination & inspiration

Ruth 1 and 4

Galatians 3: 23-29

Where next?

Participants were given an invitation to join the Faith & Gender cluster group meeting on Friday, 10th January 2014 at 6.06pm, and notice was also given for a Retreat Day – hopefully happening in late Feb/March. The evening finished with a prayer: God of reconciliation and grace, you promise us a world where all is new, where love is born when hope is gone, where broken relationships are restored to wholeness. May we live as people who know your story of love, and may we have the vision to imagine what could be possible if we dared to live this story. God of abundant life, may we be witnesses of love, hope and peace, and co-creators of your life in the world. Amen. (from Christian Aid)
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