By Dan Sidey
Nearly every time I get together with my father-in-law we have talks about religion. We're both faithful believers trusting in the same God, the same Jesus and the same Bible, but the way we express our faith and where it has led us to rigorously stand our ground couldn't be more polarized at times.
One subject that we continually return to is women in the pulpit. What can I say? It's fun to talk about with him, because I know how right I am!
Truthfully, I don't know who I'd be today if it wasn't for my pastor. Her name alone speaks volumes about the great reservoir of courage, love and stability rooted within her. Her name is Faith and she is truly beautiful.
If you ever visit Bandon, Oregon you will immediately fall in love with the ocean. Just off the shore juts numerous gigantic rocks. To see them is truly mythic. They enchant me like a story about the great truths of my faith. As the tide crashes against these massive rocks the spray that fills the air is both angry and enchanting. In the evenings as the sun is setting it is as though heaven opens and the curtain veiling eternity is thrown wide. My eyes can scarcely believe how beautiful it is.
To see the ocean of Bandon is to see what I have beheld in the heart of my female pastor. I have known Faith for more than six years and during all six I have known she was deep and full of wisdom, but especially in the last two years as God has wretched my eyes open to my prejudices I have learned that without her I would be lost. Before I knew her I was lost. There are some things you can never understand about God until a courageous and loving woman communicates them.
Faith is that woman for me. She is like the Bandon rocks the ocean has violently thrown itself against. The world with seething poison has told her "Wither...die...be shaken for you are not strong enough, nor smart enough and never beautiful." But Faith has not only withstood these vicious attacks, but turned and courageously spoke to the darkness "I may not have been strong, smart or beautiful, but my God has made me deeply courageous, abundantly thoughtful and forever lovely." I know very few men that have the courage to cling to God and speak against hell like this.
I also know of no one who listens or cares for Atarah and me as Faith does. She has steadfastly reminded us that after work must come rest, that with stability comes roots, with steadfast courage comes resurrection in the face of a crucifying world. In just the last week her parish has let her know that they have little idea how they will continue paying her as they have. Faith is a pastor. This is her gift, vocation and work. Despite the financial situation she desires stability right here among us even if that means greater financial hardship. If you knew Faith you'd know she isn't led by foolish optimism. She has counted the cost and is yet again living out of a peace that is passing all my understanding.
Like a Bandon sunset Faith is exquisit to behold. The other day I went to a coffee shop to chill with a friend. Faith was there also and she was glowing. When I looked her in the eyes, touched her, we smiled together and exchanged a few tender words it was as though God breathed life into me. I felt so at home and honored. Without a word she communicated far more than the most eloquent of preachers.
If something about women as pastors bothers you just take a look at who understood Jesus. It was a woman who understood and accepted God's plan by anointed Jesus for death. As for Peter's swashbuckling ambitious ways, Jesus said "Get behind me, Satan!" Who were those faithful enough to return to the tomb first, to see him raised, and to preach the very first Easter sermon? "He is risen!" Women. And they were not trusted. Shamefully, It is a parable for us today still.
Faith is like a beautiful and lovely rock on the shores of Bandon. All who have eyes to see and ears to listen are changed. She is my dear friend and pastor. She is a woman and she leads me.