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Day 85: Surrender Amidst Conviction

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

A chilled Chardonnay rests here to my right, at a favorite post-Sunday celebration space for Brian and me. Of course, I’m sitting here by myself, wishing Brian were with me...had he not tested positive for Covid-BA.4/5 (given the slight symptoms of headcold)... And yet, I’m quite content to breathe into this space in a sacred solitude, a sense of gifts/receivings well offered, task sufficiently accomplished. I was the preacher for my husband’s church, Fairmont Presbyterian. Livestream can be accessed here, the proclamation of the Word beginning 35:00 minutes in or so. (15-16 mins? commitment).

In and of itself, “pulpit supply” is a sacred calling I have fulfilled multiple times over the years, traditionally other churches in the presbytery (broader community of SW Ohio churches). Until about 10 years or so ago, when Circle really entered in my life, my work. This decade later, I sit firmly in my convictions that I don’t believe in preaching anymore, as a liturgical form.

When I’m with preachers, I soften this with a “for myself” clause, to honor their sacred callings and life investment in the form. It’s a social nicety I offer without much sense of loss. But the conviction is a strong, strident opinion I hold within my belly.

I no longer find the social-liturgical form of preaching relevant for a world groaning and aching to be in deeper, healthier relationships. Preaching highlights one voice, not multiple voices at once. Preaching fits patriarchal assumptions within all of us, whether gender is remotely considered (or not). It creates passive listeners, not active human beings willing to risk more to be changed. It idolizes Scripture over the gifts of complicated human experience. I could go on…

Yet I served a congregation today as their morning “preacher.” Hmmm….

My husband was struggling to find pulpit supply for a Sunday after a 12-day pilgrimage, when preaching for him would be a task upon overwhelm & fatigue. His proposal felt untenable and unhealthy to me—asking a young woman in seminary who has lost herself once again to another. When I heard the text was a blessing, the ancient Aaronic blessing text from Numbers, I knew immediately in my belly I could be at that intersection with integrity. “I’ll do it,” I said to him.

Because I am a priestess. I am a woman of ritual, of communal call-and-response, not an expositor of Scripture as traditioned in seminaries. I invite others into experiences of the Sacred all the time.

On this side, now, even though I kavetched all week, I know I was supposed to be there this morning, to invite the participatory medicine we all “took in” together. My showing up was in itself a surrender to the divine order of things, which was the medicine-point of the “message.” It had this feeling of inevitability about it, even though I wrestled and resisted all week.

Such is surrender amidst conviction, I guess.

I don’t know how not to kavetch…yet.

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