I remember the first time I heard a woman preach. I was sixteen and she preached on love, quoting several 80’s rock and pop ballads in her expression of the word. I don’t recall the scripture or the main message, but I remember the way I saw myself in her.
A few months ago, I stood in front of my own church and preached to a group of youth and adults. It is something I do every other week now. Routine. This particular sermon included a story about my days in cotillion when I learned how to “be a lady.” The lessons included learning dinner etiquette, dancing the box-step, and letting boys serve you lemonade. I was not a fan, to say the least.
I joked in my sermon that I didn’t need the boys to serve me lemonade. I could get it myself. If you know me, this is pretty on par for my personality. And “being a lady,” in the traditional sense, is not my strong suit. Still, the joke got several laughs from women and girls in the room. A few chuckles from the men. A few blank stares.
Afterward, I got a couple comments about my joke. I heard a “you go girl” and a “glad these girls have a strong female role model.” But I also was told, “You really shouldn’t share a story like that with these kids. Men and women have different roles. It’s important that they know that.”
I almost laughed at the comment, thinking it was a joke. It wasn’t. I had struck a chord, made someone uncomfortable. I had disrupted something. So I listened as this man and a few others joked about how young women today can’t keep a man because they won’t “let their man do his job.”
They chuckled at the expense of women. I tried, for some reason, to defend my gender with snide but friendly responses. They chuckled more. The one man in the room who I thought would understand my frustration said nothing.
So, Church, sometimes I really dislike you. I dislike the way you belittle my calling and jeer at my untraditional feminine independence. I cringe at the male privilege that seeps from your pores. In the passing jokes, in the pulpit, and in the implicit sense of who holds value. In the traditions you uphold that box people out.
Then something happens and I need a friend, a home, a place. I need people who love and care for others. I need people who go out of their way to love a neighbor, and that’s where you come back to me.
Then, Church, I really like you. I like how you care for me through grief, helping to carry my burdens. I love the way that you nurtured me as a child, teaching me and challenging my beliefs. I am so glad I made friends and family because of you, with whom I spent many moments laughing. You taught me that my voice and my message is valuable, even when it makes some people uncomfortable.
Church sometimes I love you and sometimes I don’t. But I like disrupting all the things I dislike about you…throwing a wrench in it. Jesus taught us to flip tables. He taught us that women have value. He taught us to be disruptive.
So, Church, I love you and I am going to fight like hell to keep you alive in this world. You need to be here. People need your support, community, love, and care. But I am going to disrupt you. I am going to flip your tables. I can’t wait.
A Disruptive Female Minister