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Sacred But Silent: Reflections on Women in Church History

Author: Rese Hood
Date: 28.07.2010
Category: Men & Women

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Originally Posted in English

Paradise Road

How silent is this place!

The brilliant sunshine filters through the trees

The leaves are rustled by a gentle breeze

A wide and open space

By shrubs, pink-tipped, mauve-blossomed is o’ergrown

A hush enfolds me, deep as I have known

Unbroken save by distant insects’ drone

A jungle clearing

A track through which we bear our load to Him

It is our Paradise Road

How silent is this place!

How sacred is this place!

--Margaret Dryburgh

            The 1997 movie Paradise Road chronicled the harrowing experiences of a group of Allied women interred between 1942 and 1945 in a Japanese concentration camp on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.  Beaten, starved, enslaved and threatened, confined by barbed wire fences guarded by abusive soldiers with no word from the outside world and its war except the propaganda furnished by their captors.  Despite their dire situation, some of these women secretly formed a vocal orchestra.  Using classical scores written from memory, their beautifully blended voices penetrated both the dense jungle air and their captors’ hard hearts with their first performance[1]even as they brought hope to their fellow captives, lifting their spirits beyond the walls of their prison.             

As I journeyed through the history of women in the church it struck me that, for the most part, women in the Christian faith historically have much in common with these women of Sumatra.  The Allied women were confined to the island simply because they were on the wrong side of World War II. Women in the Christian church have been confined simply because they are women on the wrong side of flawed biblical theologies which were compounded and or abetted by intruding secular philosophies and warring political interests. Both the groups suffered privations, suspicion, exploitation and domination by those in power. Information about the larger world and their place in relationship to it was filtered by those who dominated them.

            There is a positive side to the similarities. Like the Sumatra captives were inspired by the remembered notes of beautiful music and transcended their captivity, God’s daughters, inspired and equipped by the Living Word and written word, have broken out of imposed boundaries, experiencing the truth which set them free in both the temporal and spiritual realms.  They have penetrated their world and lifted the spirits and hopes of their sisters and brothers with the light and life of Christ.  The synopsis on Paradise Road’s DVD cover could well be true of both groups, “These diverse women from different countries, speaking different languages, unite to form a vocal orchestra – creating a life-affirming symphony of human voices.”  Of course, the women of God were also affirmed by the Holy Spirit’s song of salvation. Instead of vocalizing the harmonies of Mozart, women of God have incarnated, spoken, sung and written of His power and promises and presence, glorifying His Name.

Keywords: gender, women, leadership, partnership, missions, truth

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