When my daughter was 3 years old we caught an international flight together to go and see my parents in Indonesia. We were on our way down the tunnel, the air bridge, towards the plane and there was a substantial queue. My daughter, being an excited 3 year old, broke free from my hand wove her way through the line up and disappeared. At which point I knew she was ahead of me somewhere, so just waited in the line until I arrived at the plane door to board.
Eventually I arrived at the plane door and I had the two tickets, although there was just one of me. “Where is the other person, a Miss Esther Grace? they asked. ‘I guess she’s already somewhere on the plane,’ and then explained the situation after they tried to tell me that was not possible. The search of the plane then began, and sure enough, there she was in first class happily sitting on a large comfortable seat looking very much at home. I took her by the hand and calmly walked her from first class, past business class and eventually found our seats, which were right at the back of the plane. She then piped up, ‘But mummy, I like the other seats better. Why can’t I sit there?’
We sat down, and then I went on to talk about how in Gods eyes all people are equal, and if Jesus had a plane, everyone would have the same seat, and there would be room for all. But, people are born into different situations, with different backgrounds and the world does not treat all people as equal etc. I think I lost her attention about 20 minutes into my explanation…
The thing is, Jesus was revolutionary. In a heavily patriarchal society where social order, colour of your skin, your gender and your age were used as ways to define, control and maintain structure that oppressed and controlled people, Jesus dared to suggest people were equal. No, he went even further and claimed it was to these people, those whom the Roman world had in some way oppressed and excluded. It was to these that the kingdom of heaven belonged.
In the book of Galatians, Paul is writing to the church in Galatia, because has heard a hierarchy of Christianity was beginning to develop, with Jewish males at the top and children and female slaves at the bottom. And he writes this:
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians chapter 3.
He reminds the church in Galatia of how in Gods eyes all are equal and so should people be in our eyes. All treated with respect and dignity.
Here at Tintern Grammar, I believe we see all students as equal, all with a right to learn and a right to be respected. And that’s the community I am proud to be part of.
by Alison Andrew, School Chaplain