Reflection: Women and the Word

By Griswold, Phoebe W. | Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

Reflection: Women and the Word


Griswold, Phoebe W., Anglican Theological Review


When we, as women, encounter our own experience in Scripture, a numinous moment happens. God reaches through the story and gives our lives power and meaning that we never knew before. This experience can be both private and communal at the same time, connecting us to our deepest selves and bringing us into communion with women around the world.

I have learned in my travels with my husband, the Presiding Bishop, that if I want to meet women's groups I have to ask for this to happen, because most of the visits are with the male hierarchy of our church. Even though I am the wife of the dignitary it is not presumed, fairly enough, that I might be curious to share information with groups of other women. Because I ask for this experience, I have been privileged to have intimate conversations with women's groups from Central America, Palestine, Brazil, Nigeria, and Uganda. In these conversations it has often been Scripture that has brought us together and allowed us to really know each other. These encounters have opened the way for me to learn more about other women as well as to know more about the workings of God.

Posing the simple question, "What is your favorite Scripture passage?" to the women you meet can introduce women to each other across cultures and contexts. After such a conversation women can say to each other, "I know you because I, too, share some of the same feelings even though we choose different passages and the contexts of our lives seem to have nothing in common."

In front of sixty bishops and their wives in Uganda, I answered my own question. My favorite passage is the cataclysmic encounter between the angel Gabriel and Mary: "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you! But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be" (Luke 1:28-29). This pesage has always surprised me, because what troubles Mary is the appearance of an angel who says God has not only favored her but is also with her. She hasn't even heard the invitation to bear Gods son; it is the meeting itself that terrines her. Particularly in the United States, we women resist accepting these moments oi being named as favored or having a role to play in Gods plan. We shy away from the power and influence that the circumstances of our lives might offer us. …

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