Ecumenical Women for Peace

I was once at a conference during which Sister Joan Chittister made a statement which I remember as:  if women were in charge of war, the tank would be followed by the milk truck.  Sister Joan's point was that women think differently than men. 

Earlier this week, my husband and I participated in a worship service dedicated to the upcoming sanctification of Beato Monseñor Oscar Romero.  The worship was led by women. 

Ecumenical Women for Peace is a grass roots group of female religious leaders in El Salvador.  The group formed a few years ago during a peace conference and the women continue to gather in support of one another, to share Bible Study and to praise God together.   They meet in each other's houses of worship, taking turns preaching and presiding.

The Anglican Church hosted the latest worship.  My husband received the invitation through the election observer network.  I received it from the leader of the women's group.  There were a few men in attendance, including the Anglican Bishop and the Lutheran Bishop.  Four women formed the choir, and they were a force!  The liturgy was blended from the denominations that use liturgy.  The Anglican priest presided. 

The Baptist preacher was awesome. I should have taken notes.  She spoke about the passage in Revelation 22 which describes the vision of people washing clothes, clean and happy.  The pastor posed the question, "Who has to wash their clothes?" -- those who work and get dirty, those who hang out with those who work and get dirty.  Jesus had dirty clothes.  The pastor reflected on the struggles of Jeremiah and the words of Jesus stating that a "prophet is not welcomed in his home town."  God does not send prophets to proclaim "everything's OK."  God sends prophets in troubled times.  Romero was sent by God as a prophet to be a light during dark and troubled times.  What times do we live in now?  Perhaps these are the times when women are called to be prophets, when women are called to wash their clothes, when women are called to shed light in the darkness and work for peace.

The Words of Institution were proclaimed by two women from two faith traditions at one table.  All were invited to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion.  Everyone went forward.  To me, this seemed like a pretty big deal:  Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, Baptist, Baptist Elim, Methodist and Roman Catholic women celebrating at one table.  They take turns preaching.  They take turns presiding.  They take turns hosting.  They pray together.  They study scripture and doctrine together.

I am sure they have their differences, but everyone took communion.  I whispered to my husband:  "This is what it would be like if women ran the church." 

Isaiah 55
 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
    and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
    and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
    and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 For you shall go out in joy,
    and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
    shall burst into song,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
    for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.


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