He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” (Matt 13:33 NRSV)
She is as good as they come, but she has had about all she can stand.
I sat with her the a few days ago to listen. Her frustrations with church, and particularly churches of Christ, are the kind many of us have had and still do at times. She reads widely and drinks from that delicious cup of gender equality, social justice, and ecumenism. Her vision for the Way of Jesus is expansive.
Only, not everyone shares her vision, even though they might share a pew with her.
Honestly she would fit well at so many other churches. I could see her thriving in an Episcopal church, serving the LGTBQ community. I could see her walking the streets in protest with the United Church of Christ. Goodness, she could easily be ordained and preach in the Disciples of Christ, and that’s not too far of a leap historically. Not to mention the fact that she’d be a better preacher than most.
But I hope she stays.
I know that’s a lot to ask as a male … a white male … a white male preacher … a white mail preacher in churches of Christ.
But I need her. Our movement needs her.
We need her like dough needs leaven.
Jesus describes the kingdom like that, there in Matt 13:33. A woman (don’t miss that) works a little yeast into a large batch of flour. Over time, the yeast takes hold throughout, the dough leavens, and is ready to become bread.
Of course the bread is changed, but the yeast is as well. Both grow together into something complete, and—in the words of Jesus—“perfect.”
I don’t fault those, especially women, who have moved on to denominations that fully embrace their gifts, or are more aligned with their social conscience. Because of all those adjectives I applied to myself earlier, I’ll never completely understand what it’s like for them in this tribe.
But I do hope my friend will stay. We need her leavening influence to grow into the kind of community that more fully embodies the Jesus Way.
Churches of Christ need the leavening of those like her.
Eric and his wife Lindsey have been at Highland Church in Memphis since 2012. You are likely to find them walking the local Greenline with their sons Noble, Foster, and dachshund Tucker. Eric cares deeply about preaching and social justice. He has a BA in Biblical Text and a Master of Divinity from Abilene Christian University. Eric is a board member for HopeWorks, an organization that provides hope and job training to the chronically unemployed and formerly incarcerated in Memphis.