The book of Genesis reveals that we are made in the "image and likeness" of God. Our essential self is realized and released when we choose willingly and freely to accept God's presence in our lives, and to express it fearlessly in our every word and deed, each in our own unique way, in loving harmony within the parameters of our Church.

There are some places in our liturgical life where, historically, the words have been used to create obstacles to life in Christ for many women in the Church. For those who live in fear of God, but fearlessly in life, it seems obvious and simple that we must remove these obstacles. They are blocks to the emergence of many Christian women's essential selfhood, connoting as they do a disparagement or discounting of women, unfitting for Christians.

The Orthodox Church always teaches us to avoid judging anothers' spiritual life by externals. While we trust in the well-established norms of Christian life, we also acknowledge that God works in diverse and mysterious ways in people's hearts, beyond our ability to understand. As it says in our Syriac Orthodox tradition, "the Holy Spirit blows wherever She wills."

As Orthodox Christians we cherish our incontrovertible dogmas, sacred Scriptures, and the fullness of our Holy Tradition, which, while ever remaining the same, are constantly being expressed in new ways through the life of the Church and the faith of the people - the Body of Christ. At the same time, we are vigilant to cast out sterile traditionalism that exists only for it's own sake, empty of the Spirit and blocking the Spirit's movement.

For all those who believe that the Holy Spirit lives in each of us, male and female alike, our faith and dogma require loving scrutiny of the words we use under the honest light of Christian love, and sober action rising from that scrutiny, to remove those obstacles to Christian love and life still left in our liturgical language.