A wide spot in my imagination.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Baking Casseroles, Playing Pianos and Preaching Sermons

My friend Nikki is a thoughtful, dedicated, compassionate minister.

I once heard Baylor football coach Grant Teaff tell an injured player to pipe down.  "I've had more pain in my eye," Teaff said.  To paraphrase, Nikki has more pastoral sensibilities in her little finger than some pastors do in their whole beings.  And she's a woman.

A couple of years ago, she and I were preparing for a funeral at the church we served.  The funeral director referred to her as "that little lady."  I pointed out that she was a member of our pastoral staff.  He said it again.  I interrupted to say she was my colleague, has a dual degree in divinity and social work, and is an ordained minister.  He hardly paused and kept talking.  (He also gave me the wrong check and rambled on about how the Book of Isaiah can cure cancer.)

After the funeral, I called his boss to complain.  Oddly, the boss took me to lunch to apologize. Not Nikki.

Today, my friend Nikki took part in a funeral with personnel from that same funeral home.  She introduced herself to a funeral director as one of the ministers participating in the  service.  Later, that funeral director asked her if she was the pianist.  As Nikki pointed out, not that ministers can't be pianists or vice versa, but if she was the pianist she would have said she was the pianist.  

Granted, funeral directors deal with many different religious traditions and many different people.  And, granted, historically more men than women have been ministers.  And, granted some religious traditions still do not allow women to be clergy.

But really?  The same funeral home? Twice?  To the same minister?  So, here's the deal, Anonymous Funeral Home That Shall Not Be Named, I'm putting you on notice.  The third time, and we're calling you out on this.  By name.  Publicly.

And let's get this straight.  Women can be ministers and pianists and scientists and plumbers and astronauts and undertakers.  Yes, some women clergy members are terrible clergy members; so are some men.  Yes, there are differences in men and women.  If I need to carry a grand piano, I'm probably going to ask the burliest men I can.  If the world needs babies carried in the womb, well, women are better at that.   And when people need to be "carried through the valley of the shadow of grief," men can bake the casseroles and play the piano and drive the hearse and preach the sermons.  So can women.