We hear again the Christmas tale of a young mother giving birth to her first child. We celebrate the miracle of birth, the wonder of women’s bodies that can carry and protect the developing baby, feeding him from her own flesh and blood. The created wonder of a body that can feed the new born with the perfect nourishment of a breast full of milk, before laying him in the cradle full of hay. God incarnate honouring and blessing the remarkable capacity of female flesh.
We retell this story in a world where the bodies of women are still dishonoured, belittled and abused. We tell it in a Church where women’s bodies are still considered other and where some continue to place limits on what is deemed appropriate for women to do and be. We tell it in a society that is questioning what we mean by a woman’s body and whether we need to speak in new ways about gender, bodies and human identity. We pray that Holy Wisdom will help us speak with courage and confidence as we call for gender justice in our world and in our church.
This year has marked in the Church of England 25 years of women priests and 5 years of women as bishops. In the Anglican communion the recent consecration of the Bishop of Montana marked the 100th woman bishop. We rejoice in how far we have come and give thanks for the variety of women’s voices at all levels of the church. We pray for confidence for women to speak out of their experience, to help the whole church to see more fully the divine image that women reflect.
We recognise the trust placed in Mary to be the God-bearer; playing her part in the redemption history in the once only miracle of Jesus birth. We recognise our calling to be Christ-bearers; nurturing the light and love of God in our inward beings and bearing witness to its truths in our daily lives. We birth hope, love, forgiveness and mercy through the grace of God.
Holy God, Mother of all that is
sustain us with your love
nourish us with your grace
that with Mary and all the saints
we may be bearers of your light and life in the world
this Christmas and for evermore
Chair of WATCH