Tuesday, April 28, 2015
There's a Woman in the Pulpit: It's All About the Call
It was the summer of 2006. My mother had died about six months earlier, and my son was about to head off to college. My daughter was ready to begin her last year of middle school, and I? I didn't have a job.
A Call. I mean, I didn't have a call. Ministers don't have jobs, we have calls.
But who is a minister without a call?
That summer, I strained to find out. Having completed an interim pastorate in the late spring, I spent the summer restlessly poking around my denomination's matching website, where churches and ministers were (hopefully) brought together, the ecclesiastical version of match-dot-com. I needed a job-- sorry, a call-- within a reasonable radius of my home (that last interim had been an hour commute; I felt I could do 90 minutes each way if need be).
But there was nothing. Nada. Zip. Scratch.
I listened for God's call and I heard.... crickets.
I began to wonder whether I should open a wine shop.
I called the local public radio station when I heard they were looking for on-air weekend announcers.
I was doing yard work, and a Leonard Cohen song popped up on my iPod.
If it be your will
That I speak no more
And my voice be still
As it was before
I will speak no more
I shall abide until
I am spoken for
If it be your will
Eventually my search for a call turned into my search for anything at all that might give me somewhere to focus my restless energy. The internet was handy.
There were these blogging clergywomen...
As I began immersing myself in the blogs of people named things like Songbird and Saint Casserole and Pink Shoes and Queen Mum, I realized with relief that I was not alone anymore. (My nom de blogue was Magdalene, for my favorite biblical character, and then Cecilia, for the patron saint of musicians). Suddenly, I was reading of other women in ministry, or preparing for ministry, or between calls. I was reading about women who were balancing ministry with families and relationships and marriages. I was reading about women's challenges as heads of staff and associate pastors, and in all kinds of ministry settings, from hospitals, to tall-steeple churches, to colleges, to tiny rural chapels. Sermons were shared. Recipes too. Stories that made my belly ache from laughing and my eyes well up with tears. Stories of God showing up in their lives, and the lives of those they loved and served as ministers.
And I began to share my stories there too... the summer trip to see extended family, the interview for another interim position. (Phew! Wine shop Plan B averted.) The occasional sermon.
Mind you, I still didn't have a call. But I did have a community, and the fact that I had met almost none of these women face to face did not negate the sense of connection, the kindness, or the daily, almost hourly flashes of recognition: this is who I am. With or without a call.
The women who constitute the community that eventually became RevGalBlogPals have brought forth a book. There's a Woman In the Pulpit: Christian Clergywomen Share Their Hard Days, Holy Moments, and the Healing Power of Humor was published this month by Skylight Paths Publishing. It contains stories, poems, and prayers by more than fifty clergywomen and women preparing for ministry. It contains offerings of hilarious good humor and heartbreaking vulnerability. It contains boots-(and pink heels)-on-the-ground, day-in-the-life nitty gritty stuff, and theological reflection that makes the heart sing. It contains tales that make you mutter not-so-nice words under your breath, and revelations that make you want to fall to your knees in wonder.
It's all about the call, and the incredibly diverse women who have answered it.
It's all about the call, and the lives that are shaped by it.
It's all about the call, and the loving God who sustains us through it.