When I was in third or fourth grade, I got a small red boom box for Christmas. It was the late 80’s and having your own boom box made me the quintessential preteen of the time. My parents knew I was growing up, I thought. I got a boom box!!! I’d spend hours listening to the pop radio station in Shreveport. I’d hear teenagers call in during the evening hours and be reminded not to curse because they were on the radio. It was scandalous! And fun! Maybe Shreveport was a little behind the street performance culture that made the boom box so exciting to me, but it made the “real world” accessible and both more mysterious and less mystifying at the same time.
One song that stuck out was Soul II Soul’s “Back to Life.” I thought, yes, back to life, back to reality. I can’t wait to be a part of reality. The song is an exploration of figuring out what someone wants of us and what they need. Assumed is that the person of interest actually wants and needs us. Is wonders what is reality and what is fantasy. You can find the lyrics here. You can watch the video here. I was convinced that what I lived was not real life because I was not an adult. That is another post.
In the Women and Worship conference, we explored reality, what is real and where we are. By attending the conference, we acknowledged a reality that was caught in the eschatological tension of the what-is, the not-yet, and the in-breaking of God’s activity in the world. Chiefly we explored the desire for the fullness of humanity to reflected in the church, both male and female and something beyond gender limitations.
As Rebecca Ferguson explored the Magnificat in worship, I felt permission to explore what is real. She said “imaginative reality does not mean fiction.” If I were to imagine the reality to which I’d like to return, what would it be like? In terms of the conference, that would be a universal church where women’s voices are equal. If I were to return to life, meaning that which sparked at the simple speaking of God at the beginning of creation, it would reveal a church where women’s voices have never been squashed. What a mighty reality that would be!
Turning back to Soul II Soul’s lyrics, I excitedly ask “however do you want me?” to the church, to God, to my fellow humans, knowing that whatever we say may just create an imaginative reality that we do not have but is in no way fiction. Living into the mystery, I can demystify the ache to be church, to be pastor, to be women, now.