This morning, while the city woke up to find most of yesterday's snow was gone, commuters woke to find some 10-15" still on the roads. It was a light day for midtown traffic.
The worship team for this morning included some of those commuters. They did not trudge in; they stayed safe and sound at home. So morning worship went into Plan B.
Plan B included focusing on the story of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi was the primary focus. We heard her challenges; as she found herself suddenly without husband or sons, without property or inheritance rights, with 2 dependent daughters-in-law. Plan A was long gone; Plan B needed to happen.
Plan B for Naomi involved taking action, despite her justifiable grief and bitterness. It meant returning to that space where the impossible is faced directly; it's where attempts and ideas are tried until something works It's determination and commitment and refusing to give up.
We were asked: What do we do when bitterness falls in our lives, as we struggle for justice and equality? What do we do when we are faced with failure, setbacks, and regressive practices?
Do we sit in the bitterness? Do we struggle with depression? Do we lash out? Do we hide under the blankets?
Or do we suck it up, create a plan B, and find a way to forge forward in faith?
Naomi did just that, choosing to reject the very bitterness that would seem appropriate to her circumstance.
Thus inspired, our day continued. The Anglican Communion delegates gathered all morning to continue sharing our country reports. We heard stories of injustice that naturally leads to bitterness: of gender-based violence and female genital mutilation, of early forced marriage and denial of education, of environmental degradation and disrupted food systems, of human trafficking and modern slavery.
And then we heard the realities of Plan B. We heard of Anglicans from all over the globe who have refused to be denied their human dignity and rights; we heard of women's centres and education opportunities, of economic self-determination and entrepreneurial training, of strengthening communities and capacity-building, of successes and attempts at success, of women's ordinations and decreasing wage gaps, of women in positions of authority and active ministry opportunities, and most importantly of never giving up, of trying new things over and over until a just outcome is achieved.
The consistent theme throughout all of these stories was the dependence on prayer and trust in God. It was a celebration of collaborative efforts, of leaning on one another as sisters in Christ, to learn from one another and to uphold one another. "We are living in the same pain," as one of our sisters said, but we are also working for the same justice.
And so we celebrate our connections here at CSW: those moments where justice is upheld, and those issues that are identified as unacceptable. We uphold one another as we share the burden of the journey, creating concrete responses to strive for gender equality. We are honest with our situations, but by the grace of God and in solidarity with one another we refuse to let the negative win.
We live in the Plan B, or Plan C, or whatever Plan we need to get to until we all know what it means to be made in the full image of God. We live and pray and work in the hope of the world to come, in the confidence of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the trust (as another sister declared" that "the Lord is in me, and is using me as she wants!"
Overcoming bitterness and engaging in action is easy when, like Naomi, we see the joy of loving service as we live into Plan B.