Today at our church two women made us dishes especially catered to our vegan diet. We missed the bulk of the worship service. Rain and wrecks and traffic threw off our timing, so we spent half the trip over with L. nursing S. in the Dallas Heritage Village parking lot.
People didn’t really care, though. They were thrilled to see us back with S. at three weeks. The women made the dishes hoping we would be there to try the sweet potato and quinoa; the apple slaw, the pumpkin cake made with margarine.
I want to write a little more about our congregation and its marginal place in a marginal Christian movement, about making distinctions among conservative religious people, about disidentifying theological orthodoxy and reactionary politics. For now suffice it to say that L. is chair of the deacons. We’re not Unitarians; we’re not even mainline liberals. But compared to many in our loose, hyper-Protestant confederation of autonomous congregations, we might as well be.
The fact that we open all offices of the Church to gifted people regardless of gender is one of the things that makes me seem less bonkers to some of my colleagues, but I feel pretty certain a lot of them think I am bonkers still. I do feel responsible to explain myself to them, to articulate what is still life-giving about an expression of Christian tradition whose institutional and theological shortcomings can be both obvious and damaging.
But mostly I feel responsible to the people who make us meals, to the earnest women who read and re-read the Bible in its entirety year in and year out, to the families that give away washing machines and cars to needy people, to the widows, survivors, and kids stitched together in kindness and hope and mystery week-in, week-out, gathered around the communion table.