Yesterday, I preached.
At church. On a Sunday morning. To a congregation.
It was my first time.
I have been sitting here trying to put all of my feelings about it into words. There is an element to this monumental moment that makes me want to shout from the rooftops. But there’s another part of me that wants to be quiet and “treasure these things up in my heart” as Mary did.
I have known for years that I was called to preach. God placed this calling on my life before I had a theology that would support my own ability to do so. My whole life, I’ve been raised in churches that did not allow women to preach or to hold leadership within the churches. I honestly never even knew there might be a different way to approach scripture in these areas.
All I knew so many years ago, was that God was calling me to preach. It’s taken years for my theology to “catch up” with God. It’s taken me years to understand that I, as a woman, am called and gifted to preach just the same as any man could be. It has taken me years to unlearn the theology that served only to limit me. But God led the way. He opened up the doors to me as I walked, in trepidation, through each one.
The more doors God led me through, the more I witnessed Him setting me free. Chains broke, shackles fell, and my spirit tasted a freedom I never had experienced before.
Years later, I find myself in this church, quite by accident. A church that not only affirms and upholds women in leadership, but affirms and upholds ME. I was hired as the youth director. I did not mention my call to preach. But the first time I taught at the kids program, my pastor exclaimed, “Praise God, you have a teaching gift!” and “I kept thinking to myself, ‘Wow! She’s better than I am, and I’ve been doing this for years!’” There was no competition, no attempt to protect his “territory”. Only a beautiful willingness to affirm and release the gifts he’d seen in me for the betterment of the Church.
It was HIS idea for me to preach on a Sunday. He took time out of his busy schedule to mentor me in the process of writing a sermon, gave me a passage and a preaching date, and let me go. A few days before the sermon date, he asked to meet to go over my sermon. He prefaced our meeting with saying that the ONLY reason he wanted to meet was because he felt a responsibility towards me to make sure that I got sufficient help and the support I needed. In no way did he want to change the content of my sermon as he believed fully in my call to preach and the Holy Spirit’s work and voice in my life.
As he read through my sermon outline, he got choked up. It was powerful to him on an emotional level. He affirmed my message and praised God for my words and my heart and the work of the Holy Spirit. He exclaimed “This is why the world needs women preachers!”
Saturday afternoon, as I sat at the kitchen table with Josh, out of the blue I said, “Tomorrow, I am going to church. And instead of sitting and listening to a sermon, I’m going to be giving it.” He responded with, “Yeah. It’s about time.”
And so; I preached. I stepped in to the calling that God placed on my life so many years ago. I have finally caught up. A friend of mine who wanted to support me, came to church yesterday morning to watch. When it was done, she told me it was lovely and that I was radiant on stage. She asked me how it felt. “It felt like breathing.” I said. “Of course it did. You are called to this.” she said.
I have no idea what the future holds for me and this new open door. But for now I sit in awe and in contentment that I am finally, exactly where I’m supposed to be.