|Pen and Ink Reflections||
all desires known
If I were choosing the books which have most shaped and inspired my life, then very high on that list would be Janet Morley’s All Desires Known. Originally published in England in 1988 by the Movement for the Ordination of Women, and Women in Theology, it remains not only as an evocative expression of the Christian feminism which shaped so much of my early adult and ministerial life, which I also shared in with my wife Penny, and which, in many ways (together with other aspects of faith, and football) saved my life. Like Janet Morley’s earlier book Celebrating Women, co-edited with Hannah Ward, it also represents a landmark in the development of new life-giving language and imagery for God. For All Desires Known is a book of prayers for public and private worship, and it was formed out of the experience of an intentional community, the St Hilda Community, which specifically sought ‘to receive the broader vision of our Christian heritage and women’s spiritual offerings in language which excludes no person and no image of God’: a ‘non-sexist’ community, giving ‘full space and authority to women, without apology, secrecy, or shame.’ It is good to recall this today, in the wake of International Women’s Day this week, and as we hear the subversive, and in some ways shocking, Gospel story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. For exploring life-giving language and imagery for God and prayer remains an invitation to us all. Like the woman at the well, we too seek living water, and the source which can quench our thirst: our profound, existential desire for life in all its fullness.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised when I looked at the Australian Anglican lectionary for today, with the remarkable John of God as the saint of the day. This feeling grew as I looked at the Church of England’s lectionary calendar for today. For this includes three other remarkable male figures: Felix, 7th century bishop and apostle to the East Angles in England; Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy - better known as Woodbine Willie - the remarkable priest, first world war chaplain, poet and promoter of the Industrial Christian Fellowship; and Edward King, 19th century principal of Cuddesdon, my theological college and saintly bishop of Lincoln. Each of these, like John of God, commands attention. Yet this day, 8 March, is International Women’s Day. One does wonder whether Anglicans are really switched on. Surely we might find one or more female saints to make a link today? Instead, we have to be much more creative to make connection…
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Josephine Inkpin, a married Anglican clergy couple serving with the Uniting Church in Sydney