Just when I thought everything was going so well in the Baptist Church, another church came along and swept me away. In fact, from the moment I logged on to www.HerChurch.org I realized I had to move to San Francisco to join Ebenezer Lutheran Church (ELCA). Now that I’ll no longer be Baptist I can have sex standing up without the fear that people will think I’m dancing.
Another advantage of ELCA is that it dubs itself "A home for women's spirituality” rather than a “house of God” (how boring is that?). It’s a sort of spiritual headquarters for the “Lutheran Feminist/Womanist Movement,” which exists to celebrate the feminine persona of the Goddess and “dimensions of the sacred as expressed in faith, worship, learning, mutual care, and acts of justice.” I assume their discussion of acts of justice omits the fate of places like “Sodom” and “Gomorrah.” Only a male God could be capable of that kind of justice.
I was initially attracted to ELCA because they claim to be “a diverse community.” As a professor at a university, I know that when people claim to be diverse they really mean it. Also, ELCA stands firmly within the Christian tradition in an effort “to re-image the divine” by focusing more on her feminine persona. I’m sick and tired of a God who made me in his image. I want to make up my own God. And I want him to be a chick - preferable a cute lesbian with lots of cute friends.
I also like that ELCA challenges the church’s restrictive language of the past. ELCA pays special attention to “images” and “metaphors” that seek to celebrate “divine fullness” offering a witness of, among other things, “inclusive justice.”
The people at my new church are not joking when they say that a new form of church is happening at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, which, by the way, is located at 678 Portola Drive in San Francisco, California. When people gather at 10:30 A.M. on Sundays for worship, it is lively, engaging, thoroughly inclusive, and feminist in nature. I’m hoping that the first Sunday of every month the church will eventually skip communion and have a pillow fight led by Pastor Stacy Boorn.
But, already, I’m finding that at ELCA the music and readings really reflect a commitment to reclaiming the feminine persona of the divine. Because the philosophy at ELCA is “Come as you are” anyone is sure to find hope, healing, and community. After all, ELCA explicitly says “All are welcome at this table!” Even if you’ve been out all night at a drag show or a gay bath house you can still make it to worship Sunday mornings at 10:30. (I hope that crack about the gay bath house doesn’t “bomb” as badly as my last one).
The ELCA feminist prayers are very inclusive and draw upon a “storehouse of tradition” to bring forth names like Mother, Shaddai, Sophia, Womb, Midwife, Shekinah, and She Who Is. They do so out of “renewed insights” into the nature of the Gospel empowered by the risen Christ-Sophia. These are things my former brothers within the Baptist Church failed to grasp all along.
At ELCA, we even have our own feminist version of the Lord’s Prayer, which goes something like this:
Our Mother who is within us
We celebrate your many names
Your wisdom come
Your will be done
Unfolding from the depths within us
Each day you give us all that we need
You remind us of our limits
And we let go
You support us in our power
And we act with courage
For you are the dwelling place within us
The empowerment around us
And the celebration among us
Now and forever
Aside from the sexist “Amen,” which should have been “Amyn,” you have to admit that it was a tear-jerking rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. It certainly beats the hell out of Jesus’ take.
ELCA believes that Christianity continues to “silence the voices and power of women, the divine feminine, and efforts to empower women and support the equality of all peoples.” So we all need to join ELCA and their feminist faith community in order to be agents for change in the church and, most of all, the oppressive patriarchal systems.
It was a big decision to leave the Baptist Church but, fortunately, ELCA gave me the following prayer of meditation to help ease the transition:
Goddess of struggle and blessing
We thank you that you are so willing to meet us in love here and now
As you meet our mothers and fathers, partners and lovers, siblings and children, Friends and strangers on their faith journeys
As you entered our human life in Jesus Christ-Sophia
Help us open our hearts to you in our time of remembrance and celebration
That we may grow in light and love toward you and all people
Through the gentle wind of your Spirit
When I prayed that simple prayer I finally realized that all my critics were right. I’ve been too critical of the gay and feminist movements in America. All they want is to be left alone. It’s not as if they want to overthrow our most sacred institutions.
Goddess Bless them, one and all.