Nadia, Pastrix, and Women’s History Month

Nadia, Pastrix, and Women’s History Month

trailblaze-001This weekend came and went so fast. It seems like only last week I was sitting in the best Indian buffet in town with the Lutherans for lunch. There’s something just so … unifying about samosas but anyways I love the Lutherans – Jeff and Colleen. Jeff has been around for 8 years and Colleen has been here for a year but it might as well be 8, too. I felt an immediate connection – they were saying things that I had been thinking for the last year, and affirming what I was feeling about faith and church and local community.

Why are there so many churches and campus groups and still such a small demographic who claim to be Christians?
Why is there really only one expression of Christianity here?
Why does it seem like the mainline churches aren’t a big draw to young people?
Why aren’t we gathering as a larger community on a regular basis?
What kind of witness could we bring to Bloomington?

We talked some more and realized that there was an opportunity to get funding for an ecumenical project. Free money is good. Always good. So, long story short, after many cups of coffee (drunk mostly by me) at the local coffee shop, emails, miscommunications, texts, Facebook messages, and this past weekend we had Nadia Bolz-Weber come out and speak on a Friday night at First Presbyterian with the Open Door providing worship, the Pourhouse providing fellowship space, and Rachel Pederson (associate at First Presbyterian) providing Taize worship (with me pretending to be a musician by playing the piano), Andy, Charlie (the local Episcopal rector), Kate (PhD student in Religious Studies), and Nadia providing some meaty discussion on public church. It was a FULL. WEEKEND. And we bagged up 100 ziplocks full of foods for the Backpack Buddies program.

Whew.

It was kind of a whirlwind and I was so focused on last minute details, and making sure some pieces fell into place, but the little snippets of grace that I heard from people … made it worth it.

And Nadia … I’ll be honest. She didn’t swear as much I expected – maybe I was thinking something along the lines of the movie The Departed for some reason. I don’t know why – maybe the tattoos and muscles. But, what came out the most was a genuine compassion. I could see that she was tired – and yes, I would be after such a horrible day of travel with delays, etc. – and yet, she still mustered up presence – flesh, blood, tears, and heart – and it was a gift. She says she’s a liturgical nerd and didn’t call her talk a sermon … and all the perfect comedic timing, and images of a church in the streets and among the people … there’s no denying, it preached. She preached and proclaimed the saving death of the risen Lord until his promised return. It was words of hope. It was sacramental. She is a minister and preacher through and through.

Her latest book uses the word Pastrix (pastriks) noun:

1) A term of insult used by unimaginative sections of the church to define female pastors.
2) Female ecclesiastical superhero: Trinity from The Matrix in a clerical collar. “What on earth was that noise?” “A pastrix just dropkicked a demon into the seventh circle of hell!”
3) Cranky, beautiful faith of a Sinner and Saint. – newwineskinsdictionary.com

And, I think, it’s lovely and fortunate that the weekend before Women’s History Month I’m reminded by Nadia’s faithfulness to being God’s beloved and bravely answering God’s call – of all the women who in their own ways suffered for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s lives. Clergywomen haven’t been around for terribly long, and definitely even less so in my denomination. I don’t take that for granted – all the bush-wacking and hacking through the underbrush, setting fire to the trail, laying down markers, so that I would have some space to set my feet. I’m grateful. So so so grateful.

“I realized that I had been called to proclaim the Gospel from the place where I am
and proclaim where I am from the Gospel.”

Streams Run Uphill: Official Release

Streams Run Uphill: Official Release

SRU Book Cover
Where streams run uphill, there a woman rules. —Ethiopian proverb

Happy Women’s History month! 

I’m also super happy to announce the release of Streams Run Uphill: Conversations with Young Clergywomen of Color.

After Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology (The Young Clergy Women Project) I felt like there needed to be something about ministry and vocation itself as a follow-up to my journey towards a contextual feminist theology. Something a little more on the ground and touching issues that are often completely absent or misunderstood by others.

Some excerpts from the beginning:

It is the dynamic but unexpected harmony of streams that “run uphill” that compels me the most. There is struggle in an uphill endeavor, but miracle in its very existence. There is an irrationality about it, as well as a subversive, kingdom-shaking quality. There is something off-putting and hard to swallow but undeniably compelling about it. So, too, it is with the “other” clergywomen and our work and ministry, their calling and community relationships, their voices and their perspectives. There is a necessity for their ministries and their stories, a need more pressing now than ever.

I remember from a seminary class the words of our mujerista sister theologians: La vida es la lucha. Life is a struggle. Despite the distinctive quality of these stories, what ties us together, and with all our sisters around the world, is the struggle. We claw. We scuffle. We rise, tooth and nail, tear-soaked and blood-spilled in it all. But it is not only the hardships, the obstacles, and conflicts; it is the miracles. It is the miracle and wonder, the undeniable beauty of grace we encounter in ourselves and in our callings. We overcome much. We surmount even more. We triumph over the impossible. Yet, even more importantly, while much of the journey is uphill, the promise of God in community is that we never journey alone. We share each other’s burdens. We carry each other on our shoulders. We hold each other’s tears. And so, I hope it is with these words: that they would remind us of our shared baptism, the promise and proclamation of God’s claiming us, and how that is the most important voice in our lives, and one that comes to us and we hear in this community.

And in that sharing, we hear and know God’s unquenchable love for us and press on all the more.

To all those women, 
the mothers, the writers, the artists, and the prophets, who are an oasis 
and who stir up a fresh vision of God’s kingdom with their work and lives
so that we might continue faithfully in this journey.

We’ve got a great line up for the upcoming blog tour, author videos in the works, and hopefully webinars/discussions. These are SUCH important issues and all the honesty and vulnerability from the authors has compelled me to make sure we hear their voices, and offer a space for those needing to articulate the struggle. Please join us!