Kingdom Come at Augusta National!

Well, I just read that Augusta National Golf Club admitted its first two female members: Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore. It’s about time! I don’t know the former Secretary of State, but I do know Darla Moore. I stayed with her parents while I was visiting Lake City United Methodist Church years ago. Darla’s mother, Lorraine, was LCUMC’s church secretary for 26+ years and her late father, Gene, was devoted to public education and a Hall-of-Famer sportsman. Their friendship with my in-laws, Guy and Dixie Godwin, was a joy to behold.

It’s also a joy to behold when the church actually outpaces society on key issues. Recognition of female leadership is one of those issues. In the Old Testament you have female leaders like Moses’ mother, Miriam his sister, Deborah the Judge, Naomi, and Ruth. Abigail and Hannah come to mind like Rahab and the victimized Bathsheba, and I’m sure that there are others, too. In the New Testament you have Mary the mother of Jesus, the other Mary who along with Mary Magdalene and Joanna who were the first witnesses to Christ’s resurrection. Anna in Luke’s Birth Narrative is called a “prophetess.” There were many significant women who led the early church. Phillip had 5 daughters called “prophetesses” (Acts 21:9). Gosh, the list is enormous. Phoebe in Romans 16:1 is called a “deacon.” Lydia, the seller of purple goods in Acts 16:14 is the first European convert to Christianity. Where would the church be without women? When I think about the influence of the Christian women in my life compared to the men, there is no question which gender has been more influential.  For instance, like Timothy of 2 Timothy 1:5, my mother and grandmother were supreme models of the faith. There are so many others!

So it’s about time Augusta National catches up to the church! United Methodists were slow enough, but at least we’ve been ordaining women since 1956! My daughter, Narcie, is one of the finest Elders in the UMC that I know. Sure, I’m prejudiced, but I think she can back it up! I applaud the actions of Augusta National. Now what can we do about other inequities? What about salary differences between men and women. In this matter we even have a long way to go in the church. The “stained glass ceiling” of women disproportionately serving smaller less-salaried places is an affront to the Gospel. Equal pay for equal work is a moral issue that must be enforced if we are to look like the Kingdom of God!

I have been reading Tom Wright’s book, How God Became King, and I think it underscores how Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension inaugurated a whole new world here and now, plus hereafter. We’re not some utopic but impractical post-millennialists who think that the world will keep getting better then Jesus will come back and say, “Way to go!” Nice thought but our hankering after war and meanness tells me that this is a pipe-dream and a sly way of giving humans the credit for the Second Coming. I’m no pre-millennialist, either, thinking Jesus wants the world to keep going to hell in a hand basket then He’s going to swoop in and save us. This line of thinking actually promotes a laissez-faire attitude toward the ills of the world. It promotes a weird hope that things will get bad enough so Jesus comes back.

No, I think amillennialism best reflects the optimistic but realistic theology of the United Methodist Church. N.T. Wright is on board, too. Read How God Became King. We’re in the millennium now! Jesus is how God became King! Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”  Why ask us to pray it if it weren’t possible? This is the kingdom of God now and to more fully come. We need to act like it for God to use us in this grand adventure. So, three cheers to Augusta National, but there’s more work to be done – a lot more.

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