Anyone who knows me knows I adore tea. Pure, classic black tea, that is, piping hot, in all it’s time-honored, painstaking formality and accoutrement. Nothing beats the standards; Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, or my personal fave, Czar Nicholas. Try to serve it to me by plopping a tea-bag in a mug and pouring lukewarm water over it and you risk being struck off forever. Barbarian. One of the most superlative moments of my life was enjoying high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, graciously enfolded in sterling silver, fine china and tons of chintz.
Traditionally, tea has represented a charming refuge; a place where one stops the flurry of business to pause, catch your breath and refuel the afternoon energy lull. It’s a civilized, deliberate pause to reconnect socially with undivided attention and genteel conversation. Recently, I attempted to enjoy this favorite pastime at a Tea and Bake Sale for one of the Churches. In an interesting twist of circumstance, that was the last thing this particular one afforded.
In a town this size, it’s not unusual to attend an event and know many present. While reconnecting with various acquaintances, we were discussing what was currently going on in life. Recently, my church has made the decision to sponsor my licensing in the F C A, so that came around as the topic of conversation. At that very moment, who should come by but the former pastor. One dear lady, God bless her heart, introduced me to him, and attempted to suggest that I might be available to preach, as they were currently without a pastor. The response this provoked could not possibly have been foreseen. He actually laughed out loud and stated flatlly “A woman will never, never, never, preach from this pulpit”. A large man with a voice to match, this graceless proclamation was enough to stop the conversation at surrounding tables and draw all attention to the proverbial bull amongst the china. Seeing our stupefied expressions, he tried a softening back-peddle but succeeded only in digging himself in deeper. The damage had been done. The echo of a stinging slap was left hanging in the air. This hidden misogyny suddenly manifesting in that venomous strike was enough to shame, besmear and silence every woman present. How to totally insult the women of God, while they labor open-heartedly to serve Him on their own ground! Abuse, disrespect and dismiss us while wolfing down the sandwiches. Wow.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not new, and I’m not that sensitive. As a woman in ministry, I’ve been held in contempt, humiliated, demeaned and overlooked for decades. The hide of a rhino is required to survive the constant hostility, but this was different, coming from someone who called himself a’ moderate progressive’ (insert guffaw here). Lately, the most disconcerting thing is the totally unexpected directions the hostility is coming from.
In case you didn’t get the memo, the days of iced cupcakes and keeping the women sequestered in the basement with the vittles are over. The birth of the Internet was the death knell to entrenched enclaves, privileged patriarchies and segregated societies, so adapt or die, you denominational dinosaur. “For whom does the Bell toll?” It tolls for thee, Old Boys Club, and it’s sounding all over the globe. The lioness is arising, and she is fierce. She rides on the wind of the Spirit Himself, and you can’t stop her. I dare to declare it loudly, because it’s not a feminist statement, it’s a prophetic one.
In Britain, home of the original tea-party, the last election saw unprecedented numbers of women enter office. Unfortunately, many have resigned their positions, due to phenomenal degrees of physical danger, online menacing and intimidation leveled at them and their families. Granted, political life makes a target of both men and women, but this particular level of sexual vitriol is unique and terrifying. What’s even worse is the lack of response from male compatriots to protect their sisters. Perhaps the modern version of misogyny is discerned most clearly in the passivity of men.
The #MeToo movement may be exposing predators, but it’s not stopping villainy. A rampant, aggressive spirit of feminism may claw you to the heights, but it won’t sustain you there. All of this points to one thing. Unless you are moving in God’s protocol of honor, especially as a woman, you will not survive political climates. Much more powerful juice is required! Only righteousness can survive and defeat evil in all it’s forms. You’ve got to know who you are in God, and stand in it. Mock if you will, but virtue is your most stalwart defender.
Girlfriend, if you want to walk in your anointed place, you’d better be tough, because this is no tea party.
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