16 2 / 2014
I’d forgotten how rarely it is I’ve heard a woman speak from a Sunday pulpit until one did just that at my church tonight. The experience of I am like you, I can see myself in you was so loud and so clear it was like someone rang a bell inside my head. I’ve forgotten how powerful that experience can be, how much it matters to see someone like you doing things you haven’t always thought you were capable of.
I talk about this all the time. I’ve had so many conversations about women’s representation in the church, read so many articles, participated in so many debates: egalitarianism versus complementariansim, headship and submission, on and on and on. I’m familiar with the dialogues and arguments, the current influential voices. I’m more than comfortable saying that I know my way around the topic of women and the church and all that comes with it.
But how is it that the actual reality of a woman preaching—on a Sunday, from the pulpit (not that we have an actual pulpit at the church I attend)—still had the ability to so completely floor me? How is it that despite all the time and thought and energy that I have put into this topic that the reality of it was still so foreign and so new?
I’ve heard so many women speak in chapel at my undergrad institution, during small groups and youth groups, and give testimonies during services. I’ve heard female voices talking about the church and participating in her ministries. But I’ve been so conditioned to hearing male voices from the Sunday pulpit that a woman preaching had the ability to completely catch me off my guard, despite how often and how loud I try to call for that very thing to happen. And not only was a woman preaching, she was un-ordained, (I believe) unmarried, and NOT speaking on what have traditionally been “women’s texts” or topics. She took us through Matthew 5:38-48, an Eye for an Eye and Love your Enemies—simply the next text during the current sermon series. It was everything I could have wanted from a situation like that, right down to her mentioning Brené Brown’s TED Talk on Vulnerability (an obsession of mine, and something everyone should watch if you never have).
The thing is, none of this should be surprising. None of this should be out of the ordinary. I want hearing a woman preach on Sunday to be as ordinary and commonplace as spotting a twenty-something with a Starbucks cup and the latest iPhone. I want it to be ordinary the same way I’m glad that seeing an African American man as our President is now ordinary. The same way I’m hoping that seeing a gay couple holding hands at my church could become ordinary. The same way I’m hoping that everyone can see themselves represented in the circles they want to be in—ones that create culture and community and power and change—so that they can believe they belong there too. So that they can have a moment of a bell ringing inside their skull saying You’re like me, I can see myself in you. That is something that should never be a surprise.
26 3 / 2013
"That day I carried the dream around like a full glass of water, moving gracefully so I would not lose any of it."
06 1 / 2013
27 12 / 2012
So, I embrace Proverbs 31:15: ”She rises while it is yet night …”
Not necessarily in the 4:30am wake up call kind of way, but in the way of rising into the Night that I see all around me and so often struggle with, even within.
The Night that looks like gender inequality, violence, oppression, poverty and suffering.
The Night that looks like not having all my ducks in a row and all my themes clearly abstracted.
The Night that looks like admitting struggle and anguish, but also joy.
I am encouraged because into this very Night–our own and our world’s–women of valor rise.
Eshet chayil, says beautiful Rachel Held Evans.
So–that blessing, that ode to womanhood in Proverbs 31, for me, speaks to our valor and our ability to rise, in spite of."