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In which I am done fighting for a seat at the table

I’m done fighting for a seat at that table.

The one filled with white men, all reading the same books, spouting the same talking points, quoting each other back and forth. It’s the table where the men – a small, select, vocal group in no way representative of men in the Church overall – sit around and discuss who is in and who is out, who is right (usually them) and who is wrong (every one else) and, a favourite topic, whether women should be allowed to write or teach or preach or even read Scripture aloud, what women should be saying and doing, how marriages should look, how children should be raised, how everyone else should live their lives in holiness.

Me? I am simply getting on with the business of the Kingdom.

Enjoy your table, gentlemen.

This is one more gift that the emerging church gave me more than a decade ago: when you don’t find it, you simply create it. You emerge from what currently is into what will be, as pioneers, rule-breakers. Stop waiting for permission and get on with the work that God has called you to, stop waiting for permission and be brave, be courageous, be boldly full of Love and gentleness but step out into the space to create.

So I am no longer standing beside your table, asking for a seat, working and serving and hoping to be noticed and then offered a seat or arguing for my right to a seat.  I don’t care to sit here any more. I have no desire to be indoors, in your neat boxes.

Instead I am outside with the misfits, with the rebels, the dreamers, the people of the second chance, the radical grace givers, the ones with arms wide open, the ones that you’ve rejected as not worthy of being listened to and I will be happy here. I will go with the brothers and sisters that believe in open source church, emerging into the new space of participation and authenticity, conversation and relationship. I prefer the wild outdoors of the new world anyway. I’m a western Canadian kid, you see, and I like the feel of the wind on my face, the cathedral of the sky, no constraints.

I have a tremendous well of hope for the voice of women in the church. The men at the table may be loud but the pockets of hope and love and freedom are spreading like yeast. I see it. I feel it in the ground under my feet. More and more of us are sick of waiting for a seat and so we are simply going outside, to freedom, together. And here, outside, we’re finding each other and it’s beautiful and crazy and churchy and holy.

We are simply getting on with it, with the work and the community and the dreaming and the loving and the living out of the hope of glory.

You can sit here and discuss whether or not we should for a while longer if you need to do that. It would be nice if, as my friend Jennie Allen wrote, you could hold your fire while we get brave and try a few things out.

I will teach. I will preach. I will sing. I will raise my tinies. I will keep my home. I will pass down gifts and goodness to the women coming after me. I will work like a boss. I will learn from the women older and wiser than me. I will write strong. I will learn. I will be wrong. I will worship. I will make mistakes. I will break rules. I will adjust. I will get mad and I will forgive. I will need to be forgiven.

And someday, I’ll throw my arms around you when you break up that table to use it for kindling and toss it out the window to the outside. We’ll build a bonfire and we’ll dance around the old arguments together, laughing.

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church, emerging church, faith, women, work

23 Responses to In which I am done fighting for a seat at the table

  1. Anna October 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Amen sister. Dance, dance, dance.

  2. suzannah | the smitten word November 21, 2012 at 6:58 am #

    but this isn’t a real discussion. your name is anonymous for goodness sake. over coffee, face to face, we will share how God has rooted our understanding of the freedom we find in Christ as women to serve and love and minister. this comment section is not for that. sarah’s piece is post-argument, it’s about living into something better for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

    it’s not anyone else’s job to educate you. choosing not to be baited does not mean that we don’t have solid, biblically-rooted reasons for our beliefs. no one needs to prove her critical thinking to you here or engage you according to your terms. if you really care, you will do to the research. there are myriad egalitarian and feminist resources and people you can sit down with in real life. many denominations and christians have been practicing gender equality for decades. be willing to do the work of understanding.

  3. Secret Disciple January 19, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    Oh Sarah, you might just have put your finger on what I think is the real way that Christian’s live as equals.

    Many years back I walked away from the table you mention, not because of inequality, (as a man I was welcome there) but because I thought it was to busy caring for it’s own power and not busy enough in the work of transformation. Among the people of God outside the “church” hierarchy is tough to find, and working in this sort of network community of people women have just as much agency as men. I find this conversation odd, because I know that once I leave the figurative “table” I will go back to a life where the conversation is irrelevant.

    There is so much to take from the Bible about this! I will stick to one thing though. It seems like in the New Testament the directions about all forms of social injustice are to change the substance of the relations, instead of changing the structure. So it is not without biblical precedent for us who want to live and serve God as equals to do so without worrying about who is at the table talking about it.

  4. John Contabile January 19, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    Absolutely LOVE this!!! I only wish/pray more women would feel and live similarly. Blessings!!! ;~)

  5. josenmiami January 21, 2013 at 8:50 am #

    sorry I missed this a year ago … I love your thoughts! just go do it!

  6. josenmiami January 21, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    I agree

  7. Ashley A July 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm #

    needed to read this tonight, thank you. But, it still doesn’t stop the sing of not getting an invitation to that other table, especially when it’s a table in the middle of your own church that you love and want to serve. But thank you.

  8. Tripp Hudgins November 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Awesome.

  9. Kelly McGuffie November 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    My thoughts re: all this seat at the table business. http://www.rainbootsandbeef.com/2013/11/on-pulling-up-seat-at-your-table.html

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