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Juggling Casseroles and a Calling

I preached a sermon several weeks ago. A big one for me. The biggest of my life actually. And while I do my very best not to mess up on a regular basis, we all know that some occasions press a little harder on your nervous system than others. This was one of them. "Just don't screw this up," I kept whispering to myself.

Of course, other, more important thoughts about preaching God's Word also ran through my jittery little mind. Thoughts that reminded me this was really God's sermon, not my opportunity to ramble. That the Spirit of God would use any effort, even a disjointed one, to work in people's hearts. That less of me and more of God was all that anyone needed anyway.

And as I lived into all of these realities, I found myself in a fairly calm rhythm the night before my sermon. But what I slammed into that next morning, was the odd world that many women in ministry inhabit on a regular basis.

Like most pastors I know, I studied. I thought. I prayed. I prepared. I prayed more. And then I was ready to go. But what a woman brings to the pulpit, as we all know, is often so different than what men bring. Not better. Not inferior. Just different. And while I could camp out here on a thousand little theological and social nuances, I'd like to pause for a moment to hit the lighter side of what it takes for, in my case a married, mother of three, to offer a sermon on a Sunday morning.

You see, I woke up that morning and got myself all put together and as presentable as possible. But it so happens that my three children needed my help that morning as well. My husband was a shining star that day, but we are outnumbered. So with sermon notes in one hand and coffee in the other. I tumbled into my daughter's room with high heels on and a dress I could not stain. Time to wake up the baby.

With a full diaper and snotty grin, she said "Hi, mama." I delicately lifted her from the crib, careful not to cover my dress with nasal goo, and spent a few moments getting her gussied up for church.

Downstairs there were pancakes on the table, two older brothers who needed to find socks and shoes, and a diaper bag to pack. And as my husband did his part, I dashed off to the kitchen to fix a salad and an appetizer for the meal we were sharing with friends after church. I glanced at my notes as I pried open a jar of marinated artichoke hearts and a bag of mozzarella cheese.

I reminded myself of my closing story while I rinsed out a casserole dish and hollered for my sons to stop arguing over trains.

And I laughed. "Do male pastors do this before church?" Maybe they do. But the ones I know spend less time with diapers than I do. And this is not a criticism, just a statement of reality. My goal here is not to embrace stereotypes, but to simply make a note of these nuances because this is also one of the many facts that reminds me of how deeply we need women in our pulpits.

Who else gets life from this angle other than another woman? How many men in that congregation juggled an appetizer and a career before leaving the house? Just like men understand the mind of a male better than a woman does, a woman proclaiming God's word with hands that smell like marinated artichokes can hit the heart of another woman in a way men cannot.

I did not preach that morning about casseroles and missing socks. But my heart, my soul, my very presence that morning came from a place that manages those details on a daily basis. It was the Word of God from the perspective of a woman. And we need that in our churches today.

Whether that woman is single, married, is with or without children, or even has a domestic bone in her body is not the point. The point is that women have stories to tell about life and God, just as our male partners on the journey do. The chance to preach from their perspectives is honoring God's call to the community of Christ.

We need both genders in the pulpit because God gave us all different stories, paths, and morning routines. And we can learn so much from those in our own high heel shoes, and from those in wing tips sitting next to us if we simply give one another the opportunity to speak. And then, follow that up by honoring that journey by listening.

January13, 2010 at 6:24 PM

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