June 9, 2008


I helped preach this past weekend. We have three services, so I spoke once Saturday evening and two times yesterday morning. Our church celebrated Pentecost for the first time - celebrating the birthday of the Church.

I remember one of our pastors often ending prayers before he preached, "And God, help us to preach!" This may seem odd, but then that would be because our perspective of what goes on at church is odd. What we tend to think and do, is go and sit and sing and listen and hope to leave with, "that was good music and a good sermon". We tend to be an audience critiquing those in front 'on stage'.

I see God as the audience. Those in front are more like cue givers. I'm/we as congregation, parts of a whole body of Christ, are being critiqued in our worship by God. And does our worship and love of God overflow into our daily life? We preach with our daily living.

I grew up under theology that said 'women do not teach men', and especially in a church 'sanctuary' from the 'pulpit'. Let me share a couple personal experiences.

In our old church we were a part of a thriving Sunday school class. One of the class leaders/teachers knew of my 'knowledge' and giftings and asked me to co-teach a series. After he introduced the new series he had me do the introduction. I think it was at the end of that class that a guy stood and said he was offended to be taught by a woman and was going to leave the church, and they did. It was painful to lose his wife as a friend; we had just begun working together on a women's ministry team. Another male friend was terribly disappointed, as he loved what I had presented and was looking forward to more. Rather than making an issue of it I backed down from teaching.

Monte and me got accepted to participate in a national communication seminar. All the attendees were a mixture of pastors, youth leaders and other people who speak within whatever ministry they were involved with. We were assigned a group we'd be meeting with every evening for the week. Every morning was lots of teaching techniques and examples from many teachers, both men and women, pastors and speakers. Afternoons we met with our group's leader, mine was a mid-west pastor, and brainstormed through what my next 'speech' was going to be and then worked on it and presented it before my group. That was the hardest work (worse than school-I didn't work that hard!) I've ever done - a totally different 5 minute talk every night for a week! and then having the group critique you and the final night, video-taped. 

There were five guys and another gal in my group. She occasionally preaches at a church in Seattle WA. There were a couple senior pastors, a youth worker, and leader of a huge singles ministry, and then a guy from Gainsville GA, that I think worked for Larry Burkett's organization. The pastors sometimes did speeches totally out of their spiritual mode. Like a fun one on 'how to grill the perfect steak'.

At the end of the week the Georgia man had a confession to make. He said he was horrified in the beginning that he'd have to sit and listen to women. But after the week he was going home and discussing, with his wife, their theology. He said he had been totally blessed by our speeches; he learned to appreciate the feminine perspective, and really learned things from us.

As a part of one body, if one has a gifting that all can be helped by, men and women, and not just children (which is where we women are told we CAN teach), shouldn't we desire to grow together? in whatever way we can? And aren't we all created, male and female, in God's image? The feminine is a part of God! It takes both males and females together to give a 'wholeness' of what God's image looks like, to the world.

In the visual image the Bible gives us of 'the body of Christ', there are many parts and many giftings. Every part is valuable for the body's functioning. And we need to be utilizing everyone's giftings - which would begin with learning each other's giftings.

So I talked this weekend about a piece of my story that led to my understanding the background of Pentecost - living in the sandals of the disciples, in their Jewish culture of First Fruits Harvest Festivals. God chose these festivals for Resurrection Day and then the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into human hearts, Pentecost Day - so we can carry on as walking Jesus's in the here and now. 

And too, I shared my relational growth with God thru a differing approach to 'Bible Study', which is a read, think, pray and live, approach, called lectio divina by some. Not a dissecting of scripture, but entering into the wholeness of it as a story, into the context, and letting it speak to me, touching where I'm at today, and live it into my life. 

My friend Ellen, one of the pastor's wives, preached with me. For years she's studied ecclesiology - what is 'church'? what does it, can it, look like? Is what 'church' has become right? is it what God would like his body to look like? the representation of Him to look like? If we're indwelt by God, do we listen and follow His promptings? Do we even recognize and know our Shepherd's voice?

Lots of children had drawn pictures for Pentecost - asked, "what does God mean to you?" A fellow artist and me hung them across the front of the church last Wednesday from a red cord with clothespins. Other art was contributed and a gal wrote a song that she sung with a friend this weekend. Ellen had brought her dancing Trinity candleholder (like mine - I posted a picture of it long ago) to adorn a table in front of where we spoke, along with one of my felted pictures on an easel, I call "Transformation". (I may have posted it before but I'll put it below.)

Lots of tables were set up for eating and fellowship decorated with red cloth and lots of red balloons. And Gretchen even made what we called Red Velvet Cake for desert, after barbeque brats and burgers. The whole body really got into celebrating what the Trinity means to us and the birth of the Church. 

This is just the beginning of a new beginning for our church. We've come through a tough time and the body is healing by paying attention to all of it's parts and acknowledging each part and letting them 'do' their part!

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