Metamorphosis

This brief reflection was shared at the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee, WI, at a banquet honoring the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women. I had been ordained for 9 months.

I recently moved to Southern California after living in Alaska for the last 10 years.

In August 2018, I was called in as a campus minister for California Lutheran University. It is my first call and it has been a very exciting and eventful year.

It is also nice to be in a warm place again. I love the perpetual summer. The warm weather is a place for different kinds of fauna and foliage.

California is also in the path of the migration of the monarch butterfly. 

Some of the amazing women I get to work with at California Lutheran University.

And I have been surrounded by these magical creatures for months now.

As they are getting ready for migration, monarch Butterflies undergo complete metamorphosis, in which there are four distinct stages of change. 

Tonight, we take a moment to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ordination of women. 

I also want to take a moment to celebrate that ten years ago, the ELCA changed its policy that banned out, and partnered LGBTQ clergy to serve as pastors.

I want to take a moment to celebrate that many of our brothers and sisters during these past days of assembly have been calling for a shift in the way we as a church approach sexism, racism, and gender inclusion. 

Tonight, we celebrate change, metamorphosis. 

The Holy Spirit’s working within our community to extend grace to all people regardless of age, sex or gender. 

We celebrate because we have all been called to the table. 

Change can be an exciting thing, a scary thing, an inviting thing.  

I am an example of that change. 

I walked into a Lutheran church in a small town in Alaska 10 years ago.

Two Sundays prior, I sat in a pew at a neighboring church, nursing my young son with two daughters sitting beside me and I listened to a pastor declare that “in his church there would never be a woman pastor because women were not capable of speaking into the lives of men.” 

I knew in that moment that I did not belong there, that my children did not belong there and that we would need to find a new place to worship. 

Two Sundays later I walked into an ELCA Church and listened to liturgy for the first time in my life, 

I listened to a gay pastor* speak about grace, and was served communion as other congregants gathered around the altar. 

I knew I had found a church I could raise my children in. 

I knew I wanted to be part of this community and I never left.

Is this denomination perfect? I think we would all say, ‘No.’

Yet tonight, this denomination is in a very different place. 

We are in a different place because because we have had the capacity to change, to transform, to struggle with one another in the cocoon and eventually emerge. 

Yet, we are still in the midst of metamorphosis. I am here to remind us of that.

After frantically reading over my sermon and doubting the direction I was going in, the airport terminal in Minneapolis on my way to Milwaukee told me I was on the right path.

There are those on the margins of our church who have been working hard and have not received the recognition that they deserve. 

Pastors of Color, Latinx, Black, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans, Queer leaders on the margins that need our support and encouragement. 

Women were doing this work, not getting the support and recognition that they deserved for generations.

I am grateful for those of you who struggled in those early years because you paved a way for me.

You paved a way for others to dream about becoming leaders in this denomination. You struggled and emerged.

Metamorphosis.

Today, I have the unique opportunity of working on an ELCA campus that encourages and gives voice to leaders on the margins.

Those who will guide us through the years to come.

Women of the ELCA, we need to support them. 

This is a call to celebration, to metamorphosis, to transformation and emergence.

Let us emerge together. 

Amen. 

*The pastor that spoke on my first Sunday at an ELCA church was Rev. Ray McKechnie. He passed away this past March. I was never able to share with him how much his role meant to me. He died before I could give him this sermon.

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