Dear Friends,

When we read of Jesus’ resurrection appearances, we find that each Gospel tells it differently. Some people find the accounts to be contradictory, others read them as complementary. In the end, each one of us has to decide for oneself. But there is one thing that each of the four Gospel writers agree on, that it was a woman or women who first discovered the tomb to be empty and who in turn were the first to share the news with the disciples…Whether by ‘accident’ or by ‘design’, again each of us will decide for ourselves; but I have always felt it to be of great significance that in a world and at a time when the role of women was in every way subordinate to that of men, that it was a woman who was entrusted with the responsibility of ‘reporting’ that the tomb was empty. And more than that. Matthew, Mark & Luke tell us that there was more to it than just an empty tomb. It was to these women that the news that Jesus had been raised from the dead was given, news that they were to share with the others. Whilst John tells us that it was to a woman that the risen Christ first made Himself known…I draw attention to this because recently there has begun a long overdue discussion of the way women are regarded by men – prompted by the appalling abduction and murder of Sarah Everard – the presumption that somehow or another, women exist only to satisfy the desires of men. And this has been amplified in the last couple of days by the claims being made concerning the degrading and humiliating treatment of girls by boys – including claims of actual sexual violence – in some of our most prestigious schools. A situation made worse by the suggestion that those in positions of responsibility in the schools did nothing to investigate what was alleged to have been happening…Of course, this does not mean that every man thinks of women in this way. Neither does it mean that every teenage boy is a sexual predator. But it is not so much the individual acts, which are bad enough in themselves, but it is the culture that has grown up around us that has encouraged men and boys to believe that to view women and girls in this way is the ‘norm.’ In the end, it’s not so much about sex, as about power, about men and boys exerting their power over women and girls…And while the Church has not positively encouraged such attitudes it has. may be unwittingly contributed to the gender stereotyping of women with regard to office, function, place and role within the life of the Church…So, this Easter, we thank God that it was the women who were granted the privilege of being the first to realise that the tomb was empty, and that Jesus had indeed been raised from the dead. To those who would have been regarded as the ‘weaker’ sex in every respect was given the opportunity to share the news with those who were in every way thought to be superior to them…May it be a spur to us as the Church of today, and in particular, to the men amongst us, to reaffirm our understanding of the vital contribution that everyone of us is called to make as witnesses for Christ, an understanding born out of the realisation that women and men, each and both, are deserving of equal dignity before God and  by each and all of us alike.

Deserving of equal dignity