Earlier this week Christine Sinclair was named Soccer Player of the Decade by Canada Soccer. “Christine Sinclair is a once-in-a-generation athlete that has been at the heart of Canadian sport for over 20 years, but what she accomplished in the past 10 years has changed the sport forever in our country,” Canada Soccer president Steven Reed said in a press release. “Christine is the Canada soccer player of the decade and unquestionably one of the greatest and most-loved athletes Canada has ever watched.”

The previous week Bianca Andreescu was voted as Canada’s top athlete in 2019. She won three international tournaments this year climaxed by defeating the immortal Serena Williams in both the Canadian and American Open. Who can forget the scene when the teenager was comforting the veteran when the latter had to concede due to injury? Andreescu is such a class act!

These are rare honours for women. There is no equality of the sexes when it comes to professional sports. Professional sports have been the domain of men. (This is part of the problem of silence pointed out in the first Advent post. Since coaches don’t have physical prowess like their players do, they use their harsh—sometimes abusive—words as a way to dominate. If Paul was writing 1 Corinthians 14 in the context of sports he would tell the men to be quiet. For that matter, even in the context of church today I think he would tell the men to be quiet because the principle of the text is about order, not about gender. Today it is men who cause disorder! But I digress…) All the major professional team sports leagues in North America involve only men. Women who do play professional team sports earn a fraction of the salaries that men do and get sparse media attention. In fact, all of human history has been dominated by men. It has been a man’s world. Only recently has there been a move toward a more egalitarian world.

But there was a foreshadowing of this change in the Christmas story. Mary gave birth to the Son of God without the help of a man. The other main character in the pre-Christmas drama was her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary received the news of her child she sang the poetry of her female ancestor Hannah (See Luke 1:46-55 and 1 Samuel 2:1-10). What a ground leveling prophetic word! It started to happen in the life of Jesus. Although the male disciples get most of the press, Jesus did have female disciples (Luke 8:1-3). Throughout Jesus’ life he healed, advocated for, and gave dignity to women (Mark 5:21-43; Luke 7:36-50; John 8:1-11). Once, he commended a foreign woman for her courageous faith when she pointed out his racism and sexism (Matthew 15:21-28). At the end of his life when men wanted to kill him and his male disciples deserted him, it was women who stayed loyal and accompanied him in his suffering and death. The resurrection was a surprise but by now it is not surprising that it was women who first encountered the risen Christ and spread the news.