If My Daughter Wants to Be a Priest
May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace.
Something powerful happened one Sunday morning as I stood there in the pew beside my daughter Lucy. It happened during a part of the Episcopal service where the priest sings, “The Lord be with you,” and the congregation sings back, “And also with you.” We go back and forth like that for a short time, the priest and the congregation singing to one another.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Then the priest goes on in a sing-song chant for a little while, blessing the bread and the wine and preparing our hearts for communion. On that morning when the powerful thing happened, Reverend Lauren was the priest leading the congregation. She is a kind soul, and she sings with a clear voice.
On that Sunday morning, the powerful thing happened when I realized my ten-year-old daughter was singing along with her. The words the priest sings at that point are not printed in the bulletin, but most of it is the same every Sunday, and Lucy was singing along quietly. She had memorized the words to that somewhat lengthy singing.
As if she was the priest.
Maybe Lucy will be a priest someday, I thought to myself, and this was an entirely new thought. I was shocked that it hadn’t been something I had considered before.
In no other church that we’ve ever attended have I or my daughters had an example of what that calling looks like for a woman. They could have grown older and had a stirring to lead God’s people, but without Reverend Lauren, without a living embodiment of what that looks like, would they have known what to do about it? Would they have even recognized it for what it was?
My daughter is intelligent, kind, and fair. She is caring and considerate, a deep thinker. I like that “priest” is now a possible vocation for her, something she might consider along with veterinarian or mom or artist or musician.
Our churches are always communicating to its daughters. Their value. Their worth. Their possibilities. The church can either be a place that affirms their ability to lead and to communicate about God’s word, or it can be a place that devalues their ability and their calling.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How would you respond to a daughter or a niece or a young lady who feels called to lead God’s people? Does your church value young women enough to provide them with a path to exercise these gifts?
PRAYER: Lord, teach us how to provide our young women with compelling visions of who they can be and what they can do as they strive to serve you. Amen.