The Deification of Maleness & Masculinity

A Call to Confession for the Sin of Idolatry

Rev. Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church of Apple Valley, MN

Long afterward, Oedipus, old and blinded, walked the roads. He smelled a familiar smell. It was the Sphinx. Oedipus said, “I want to ask one question. Why didn’t I recognize my mother?”        

“You gave the wrong answer,” said the Sphinx.      

“But that was what made everything possible,” said Oedipus.    

“No,” she said. “When I asked, What walks on four legs in the morning, two at noon, and three in the evening, you answered, Man. You didn’t say anything about woman.”

“When you say Man,” said Oedipus, “you include women too. Everyone knows that.”      

She said, “That’s what you think.”[i]

13405667_10153438242250728_1392988140_oWe always begin with confession. During worship in the church where I’m a pastor, we first welcome the people, point out that everyone is invited to the table for communion; maybe mention the reason behind the flowers on the altar. It’s light, sometimes we crack a joke…we’re just gathering, you know? But we’re also not messing around. We begin worship, just after that, by confessing our sins. We do this, not because we are defined by our sins or because our tradition lays the guilt on thick, but rather because it centers us. It reminds us, corporately, of the work we have left to do in bringing about the kin-dom of God, and of the work we will never be able to do on our own, which leaves God an awful lot to work with. Confessing our sins, and then hearing words of forgiveness and absolution, centers us for worship, which is where we rehearse the kin-dom of God.

We always begin with confession. Dear friends, today is no different. Today, we confess the sin of idolatry, in particular the ways in which we deify maleness and masculinity. Continue reading “The Deification of Maleness & Masculinity”


The Role of Young Activist Women in the Lutheran Church

Sally Fifield

UNCSW16 - 4I was raised Lutheran, identify as Lutheran, feel comfortable in the Lutheran Church, but I struggle with the church. I question the space the church has made for young women, like me, who crave an institution that questions the status quo, that demands justice, dignity, and protection for all our neighbors, and that puts social justice and activism in the center of the church.

Growing up in the church I was encouraged to participate in service projects and mission trips. While in hindsight that work was problematic in the relationship dynamic it created, it did lay a foundation for faith in service and in action with the community. I craved this active and moving faith that was modeled for me.

As a young adult I have looked for new home churches that reflect my ideals and values, but have found that the way church is structured now is for middle class, white families that are comfortable with tradition. When you are looking for the faith-based activist community for young single 20-somethings, you might want to invest in a community outside of the church. Continue reading “The Role of Young Activist Women in the Lutheran Church”

The Spirit Intercedes

Mikka from ELCA World Hunger in Chicago, Illinois

MikkaThis year’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) was my seventh experience in that space. Each time, I am reminded that the Spirit works in mysterious ways…

During our time together, the ELCA Young Adult Cohort focuses on leadership development at the intersection between faith and justice. Lately, that conversation has been leading me back to the promise of baptism – through water and the word, we are claimed, gathered, and sent for the sake of the world.

This past summer, ELCA World Hunger engaged tens of thousands of youth and their congregations in the conversation about clean water through ELCA World Hunger’s Walk for Water. According to the United Nations, women in Sub-Saharan Africa walk, on average, 3.7 miles for water each day. This often conjures images of drinking glasses, water jugs, and water wells, but there is so much more to the story.

In June 2014, I had the opportunity to visit and learn more about the 13 Lutheran churches in the island nation of Indonesia. One of the ministries we visited was a women’s crisis shelter of the GKPS (Gereja Kristen Protestan Simalungun – Simalungun Protestant Christina Church). During that visit, we met a woman named Rusti.

As we were settling down in a circle for conversation, I thought to myself, “ELCA World Hunger certainly partners with and supports many health ministries, but the focus is on women’s empowerment – how am I going to tie this back to the program directly?” And as the Holy Spirit does hear our wonderings, the first words out of Rusti’s mouth were:

“I don’t have indoor plumbing in my home, so I have to walk to an area away from home.”

Continue reading “The Spirit Intercedes”

A Reaction to the UNCSW & A Call to Action

Kristell Caballero Saucedo, Racial Equity and Inclusion Fellow, Minneapolis, MN


KristellReflecting on the experience I had during the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the racial equity and inclusion work I do as a fellow in the field of philanthropy, it frustrating to hear the same discourse around the themes of inclusivity and commitment to social justice over and over again, without real action.

As a woman who migrated to the United States from a developing country and finds herself at the intersection of identities that have been historically silenced, I feel angry and frustrated that the work for inclusion as well as diversity is moving slower than sloths move. It is irritating to see institutions, that claim commitment to combating social justice, have internal systems in place that exhibit exclusion and lack of representation at the decision making table. It is frustrating to see individual who claim to be “woke” do all talk but not act when needed because that risks their personal stability. Continue reading “A Reaction to the UNCSW & A Call to Action”

How to Walk Up Lexington Avenue…

…While Female and Wearing Both a Clerical Collar & Knee-high Red Leather Boots

Andrea Roske-Metcalfe, Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church of Apple Valley, MN

  1. AndreaBe female.
  2. Be ordained.
  3. Be in Manhattan and, if at all possible, have plans and credentials to attend sessions at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

  4. As you prepare for the day, put on a dress with a clerical collar and knee-high red leather boots.

  5. Leave your hotel room early in the morning and walk up Lexington Avenue, in search of coffee, before the first session begins.

  6. Note the odd looks that people give you (when they don’t completely ignore you, as do most New Yorkers), and remember what you are wearing. Breathe in, breathe out. Note that it takes more energy than it should to be a walking contradiction. Plan to go to bed earlier tonight as a result.

  7. Locate a Starbucks and stand in line.
  8. Barely register the fact that a man has gotten in line behind you, until it becomes quite clear that he’s trying to get a good look at your collar without being too obvious, which isn’t working.

  9. When the man says, “Excuse me, but what *are* you?” remind yourself that he hasn’t had any coffee yet today, either. Smile your best smile and say, “I’m a pastor!”

  10. When the man registers this and then asks, “So, are you like the Mormons?” remember to breathe in, and breathe out. Ask him, “What do you mean?” and then immediately realize that a simple “no” would’ve sufficed. Tuck this realization away for next time. Reflect for a nano-second on the fact that there will always be a next time.

  11. When the man leans in closer and asks, in a tone reminiscent of trying to pick someone up in a bar, “Do you have to wear that special underwear?” take a brief moment to consider your options. Recognize that your least-favorite response is also the safest. Choose safety, every time. Glare at the man long enough to make him understand that you find both him and his question repugnant and then say, quite curtly, “No.”

  12. Go back to looking at the menu above the register, even though you knew what you would order before you walked through the door. Recognize that this man, knowing as he now does that you aren’t wearing Mormon underwear, is quite possibly still thinking about what kind of underwear you are wearing, especially now that he knows you got to choose it yourself. Resist the overwhelming urge to use any and all self-defense moves on this assho- I mean, customer. Order your coffee and head to the bathroom.

  13. When you find the only unisex bathroom stall occupied, wait patiently, hoping the underwear customer will be gone when you are finished.

  14. When the bathroom door opens, and the man who comes out is startled by your presence, find it odd that he stops for a moment to look you up and down, before he sneers at you and then chuckles. 

  15. Connect the dots after he leaves and you walk into the bathroom stall, only to find that he has left the seat down and pissed all over it, not in the manner of a man with bad aim, but in the manner of a man who gets off on the idea that whoever comes after him will have to clean up his mess; this marking of his territory. Realize that he didn’t necessarily expect to see who that person would be, but that in his wildest dreams he probably couldn’t have conjured you up; try not to think about what he’s thinking about right now. Breathe in, breathe out.
  16. Because you really need to go, wipe the seat (and handle and floor and wall) with what finally amounts to half the roll of toilet paper. While you do, make connections between this man and the group of male Ivy League students you heard about in a session yesterday. (They were asked, by someone researching the effect of pornography on men’s brains, to list one thing they wanted to do to a woman, but never had. Every single one said, “Come on her face.” When asked why, they said it was a matter of power. When pushed further, they were able to articulate, “It’s because we know that women hate it.”) Try again not to think about what this man is thinking about right now; this man who somehow needed to prove himself by pissing all over a Starbucks bathroom. Breathe in, breathe out.

  17. When you have finally finished your surprise janitorial duties and used the bathroom yourself, grab your (now lukewarm) coffee and continue up Lexington Avenue.

  18. At a stoplight, when a cab pulls up and three men tumble out, appearing still drunk from the night before, move over to give them plenty of room. When one of them spots you and yells, “Hey, are you a priest?? Are you a priest?!?” simply smile and nod, especially given that this is the most tame encounter you’ve had all day, and it’s not yet 8:00am. Walk on, with your head high, as he yells behind you, “Hey, I’ve got some confessing to do!” Laugh to yourself, because you know no other way to survive.

  19. Arrive just in time to help lead worship for a group of ecumenical women at the Church Center of the United Nations, where it is so busy and chaotic that you forget about what has just happened until lunchtime.

  20. Stand in line for lunch at the U.N. cafeteria. While you wait, notice a woman approaching you. When she greets you, with a thick east-African accent, saying, “Good afternoon, Reverend! How are you?” realize immediately that she seems to know you, but that you can’t place her. Say, “Please remind me how we know each other!” When she responds that you have never met, but that she saw your collar and simply wanted to greet another sister in the church, smile wide and embrace her.

  21. After this woman leaves, remain in line, waiting to pay for your pre-packaged sushi. Notice the tears welling up in your eyes.

  22. Breathe in.
  23. Breathe out.

This Beautifully Messy Church

Margaret Kelly, Pastor Developer, Shobi’s Table, St Paul, MN


Margaret KellyIt took me a minute to realize what had happened in New York. It took me a minute to fully realize what I had been invited into. It took me a minute to see what the church is up to.

Our church, our sometimes not-so-with-it mainline, protestant denomination sends young women and men to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as leadership development. Our church sends leaders to be built up on an international stage. Our church sends leaders who aren’t necessarily called to rostered ministry to be built up in their vocations for the sake of the world. And, I got to be one of those leaders.

This is the church that gives me optimism. I get to be a part of a church that sees value in connecting faith to the larger story of the world. I got to meet incredible people who feel called to do justice in the world. It was humbling. And then, I had another moment, a more personal moment. A realization of my own leadership development. A realization at the work that has gone into developing me. Another realization of how much the church has done to support the work I am called to do.

Continue reading “This Beautifully Messy Church”

Kernel of Justice in my Shoe

Lori Kochasnski, ELCA Pastor and Spiritual Director in Pennsylvania

KernalOfJusticeAt one of the events today, I was reminded that if I just take a kernel of my new understanding about the need to work toward gender equality and other goals of justice that is enough to begin implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. A a kernel may not seem like that much, until it is stuck under your sock, inside your shoe on a 5 mile hike.

The first event I wandered into today was called, “Happiness and Gender Equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation, and one of the gift mantras practiced is, “May you be happy.” When feeling particularly bad about humanity, I try and practice this exercise by silently offering this happiness to anyone I encounter. This means I offer it to the annoying person on the other end of the phone, the kind woman who held the door for me at the tea shop, and the people I love. I was curious to hear how happiness and this spiritual practice connect to gender equality.

During the session, one of the most important acknowledgements of the challenges to “happy” came, when in answer to a question one of the panelists, Jennifer Olmsted, admitted that, “There are places where happiness is difficult…if you have an empty belly you have a more difficult time choosing happy.” Dr. Olmsted was not saying it was impossible, only more difficult. Sitting there with a belly full of breakfast, I was left wondering why don’t I choose “happy” more often. Continue reading “Kernel of Justice in my Shoe”