On Sunday, I preached on Ephesians 4:17-24 and living a life of renewal. We talked about putting on our new selves and the people who help us see both our gifts as well as the things we need to work on in order to live a life of renewal.
I was introducing the message in children’s time and teaching the kids about those things that remind us of who we are and help us to see ourselves in new ways. I brought with me a framed picture of a colored pencil portrait of me on lined paper that hangs on the wall in my office. It was given to me by a boy I babysat growing up after worship at my home church when I preached one of my first sermons there when I was home from seminary.
I showed the kids this picture on Sunday and told them it was one of the first images I had where I saw myself in a new way–as belonging in the pulpit. They sort of looked at the picture for a little bit and looked at me, and I wasn’t quite expecting what came next.
“What’s a pulpit?” asked the kindergarten-aged girl sitting next to me.
“It’s where I stand up there, ” I replied and pointed behind me.
“Oh. That wooden box with the microphone?” she asked.
“Yep. That wooden box with the microphone.” I answered.
I went on to explain a little bit about how it felt to see myself in a new way and that little girl interrupted me and asked,
“Pastor Lora, did you play pastor when you were a little girl?”
I froze. I looked at her. I was trying to decide if it was the right time to be honest or if I should just sort of laugh it off and move on. Honesty won.
“How come?” she demanded.
“Because when I was a little girl I didn’t know girls could be pastors, so I never thought to play pastor.”
She stared at me like I was crazy. So did the other kids.
“Boys and girls can be pastors. Anyone can be a pastor,” another child chimed in.
All the kids laughed and echoed the sentiment.
“That’s silly, Pastor Lora, of course girls can be pastors.” the little girl said.
As I looked down at the colored pencil portrait after worship, I got to thinking about growing up not ever “playing pastor”.
I realized I was mistaken and there was a time when I played pastor. It was in high school when my home church had its first female pastor appointed there. I went into her office and borrowed her robe for Halloween and dressed up as her.
I played pastor then for the first time. I guess it made a difference to see that it was possible.
Fast forward to today when I have my own robes to wear and I think about how I’m about to start my fifth year as pastor of this church where I am the first female lead pastor. Most of the children who sit around me during children’s time don’t remember anything different than a female pastor in the pulpit each Sunday–so different than the majority of this church’s 130 year history.
And after church on Sunday, that little kindergarten girl confidently made her way up into the wooden box with the microphone and played pastor.
Thanks be to God.
-Rev. Lora L. Andrews