I have a friend who calls me “preacher chick”. I know what you are thinking. But it is not a derogatory term. It’s his way of telling me he thinks what I do is cool and that I belong.
Recently I had the honor of preaching my first Pentecost message. Pentecost is a Church holiday on the Christian calendar. We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit 50 days following Easter. I confess that I was a little more excited about preaching on Pentecost Sunday than Easter.
On Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation of our faith. It is the promise of eternal life. And that, my friends, is something to celebrate! But if Easter is the promise of eternal life; Pentecost is the promise of a place to belong.
The Disciples were together in the upper room. And they were waiting for the Promise; the Holy Spirit. And when He came, He left His mark on every one of them. Peter stood up and quoted the prophet, Joel. The English reads that God [would] pour out His Spirit on all people; even men & women servants. But that is not what the original Greek reads. The original language says that God will pour out His Spirit on all people, even slaves; even women slaves.
The purpose of the Holy Spirit was to mark people as belonging to God; people of the Kingdom, children of the King. It was also to empower them to be His witnesses in the world. All people would prophesy; they would preach this Good News to the world.
I love that I belong! I belong to the Kingdom of God. I am a child of the King. I am accepted & loved! It is personal. God accepts me not based on what I have done, but on who I am.
I remember the day God called me to preach His message all the days of my life. He told me that if I was going to walk with Him, then I was going to preach the full Gospel of holiness. It has been a great honor, but a tough road to walk. I thank God daily for those who have been my advocates along the way, especially my male preacher friends.
Jesus said we would have trouble in this life. He said we would endure persecution because of our faith in Him. But I have experienced most of my persecution from the Church. Well-meaning (I think) Christians who have beat up on other Christians. I read an article this week abusively berating Beth Moore (Christian speaker) not about her teaching, but because she is a woman Bible teacher. This experience was followed by hearing stories of holiness churches (who ordain women) also berating and stonewalling their female clergy.
A year ago I interviewed at a church. They told me they loved everything about me and my call. They recognized the anointing God had placed upon my family and the vision I could bring to the church. They only had one problem…I had been born the wrong gender. Well, they said it a little more gracefully, but I heard them loud and clear. God had made a mistake. He anointed and called the wrong person; and a female no less. I left feeling deformed. I no longer felt like I belonged. And I wondered if this was how my black friends felt when they were singled out because of their skin color.
Sometimes it seems this subject has been beat to death. No doubt there are those who say the “horse is dead already”. And I wish it was truly a dead issue. But here is what bothers me: this is prejudice and prejudice is sin. I cannot help but ask myself how one can call themselves holiness people or Christians while the sin of prejudice runs loose in the Church? How is it that God can mark someone with His Spirit giving them a place to belong, but the Church does what it can to exclude them? And why is it that we continue to sweep this issue (AKA: sin) under the rug? What has happened to the Church?
I know there will be some who will respond quoting the two [infamous] passages of scripture against women clergy. But this is not a post about those two passages [although I will be happy to post another concerning them].
I am not alone in wrestling with this issue. I am confident God hears my prayers and He is in the thick of it with me. And I have come to the conclusion that I will never understand it. Instead, I simply need to “be still and know that [He] is God”. God is the One who called and anointed all Believers to proclaim His Good News. It is His responsibility to defend the ones who cannot defend themselves. He is the only One able to pass judgment. And He will call all of us into account on the last day.
Here is what I do know…I will stand before God one day and Jesus will stand next to me. Jesus will tell His Father that I was faithful in proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. And I will hear “well done my good and faithful servant”. And I will have a place to belong for all eternity.