A moment of contemplation for yourself or on behalf of others on everything from the life-altering to the mundane.

Prayer: A conversation with The Higher Other who lives within each of us. An invitation to vent, to re-think, to ask, and to rest.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Meditation Moments: First, Not Equal

For January 24th ~ Florence Li Tim-Oi  [1907-1992]

             Born in Hong Kong, Li Tim-Oi was baptized later as a student and chose the western "Christian name" Florence in honor of Florence Nightingale, at that time. Answering a call to ordained ministry, Florence attended theological school and was ordained and served as a deacon in Macau. When the fighting between the Chinese and Japanese intensified in the beginnings of World War II, there were no priests available to serve the Christians in the area so the Bishop of Victoria* ordained her as the first woman priest in the Anglican Communion in 1944. But as her ordination as priest was more than controversial, she voluntarily gave up her license to function as a priest - not her Holy Orders - after the war.                
            Florence remained in China for many years, even though forced to work in a factory during Mao's Cultural Revolution. It would be 30 years before two other women were ordained in Hong Kong and, at long last, in 1971 Li Tim-Oi was once again recognized as a priest (three years ahead of the US Episcopal Church's "irregular" ordinations of the so-called Philadelphia Eleven - see this blog's post for July 29, 2014). After later moving to Canada, and being awarded two honorary doctorates by General Theological Seminary in New York City and Trinity College in Toronto,  Li Tim-Oi became an honorary, that is, non-stipendiary, or, volunteer, assistant priest in 1983 until her death in 1992.
              The Episcopal Church in the US celebrates her life and ministry in the Liturgical Calendar on January 24, the date of the eve of her ordination in 1944. She is also celebrated by The Anglican Church of Canada on 26 February. 
              It is well past time for all of us to celebrate the life and legacy of Li Tim-Oi as a model of obedience to God's call regardless of all the hardship that it entails.

             Thank you, Lord, for the witness and ministry of this courageous woman who served as Your priest, who gave up functioning as a priest to serve the common will, and who returned to Your priesthood many years later as a volunteer. How many of us are humble enough, and dedicated to Your service enough, to live so simply, so humbly, and so willing to live life on Your schedule, rather than our own.  Grant us patience, forbearance, and willingness to be as You would want us to be, instead of who we think we ought to be. Thank you, Li Tim-Oi, for your life, your work, and your example of how to be a true servant of God in this world.  amen.

*There is little to be found by looking at the Anglican Diocese of Hong Kong about Florence Li Tim-Oi but there is a recent and fascinating article about the English Bishop who ordained her.  Here is the link about Bishop Ho Ming Hua (Ronald O. Hall) – Bishop of Hong Kong and Macau (1932-1966) http://echo.hkskh.org/issue.aspx?lang=1&id=141&nid=1074

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