This morning, for the first time in my life, I walked forward for communion in a Baptist church I am a member of and received the bread from the hand of a man and the cup from the hand of a woman. And then I sat in my pew and sobbed.
I truly didn't know it would affect me the way it did. I didn't know the deacons who were offering communion. I didn't even know that we were observing communion this morning. But as I stood in front of the woman who held the cup, something broke wide open.
Our pastor had just reminded us of Jesus' plea that when we take the bread and the wine, we remember him. He was a young man who knew he was about to die and in that moment of vulnerability, asked his friends, "Don't forget. Remember me." As I walked back to my seat, I was overwhelmed by the memory of how Jesus loved women, how he loved us in a culture that, even more than mine, didn't love women. Just two weeks ago, I preached about one of the women that Jesus loved and the way she loved him back. Today, I felt the impact of it.
When I was in seminary many years ago, I was warned that if I wanted to continue to pursue a call to ministry, I would need to change denominations. C and I both love our Baptist heritage and we truly believed that the fundamentalist takeover would be temporary. We never imagined that almost 30 years later, the role of women in Baptist life would be even more rigidly defined than it was in the mid-80s.
Personally, I committed myself to "submissive subversion," believing that I could work within the system to demonstrate what a woman called and gifted looks like, in ways that people could accept. My ordination was one deeply healing affirmation of that and I will probably write about it soon. Today was another.
I believe with all my heart that men and women together represent the image of God. I believe that communion offered from the hand of a man and the hand of a woman is a beautiful expression of the unity to which we are called.
The body of Christ. The cup of salvation.