Cynthia A. Wilson, Kansas West Annual Conference
In summer 2009, an intimate gathering of about eighteen church musicians from several denominations met at Calvin Institute. Paula D’Arcy, an author, a retreat leader, and a seminar speaker, gently reminded us of the need for worship leaders and facilitators to drink before they get thirsty. What a paradox that the keepers of the well of worship would have to be encouraged to drink often and deeply! Dr. D’Arcy also suggested that the well of joy and the well of pain are often the same. As the sun began to set, I continued to ponder the idea of “drinking deeply.” The image that emerged was that of a shepherd with sheep, as in Psalm 23, and its implications for female clergy in the twenty-first century. How often do we as clergywomen voluntarily take the time to search out streams, safe places where we can drink deeply? Further, how do women in ordained ministry overcome feelings of guilt or intimidation for needing to be refreshed or renewed?
The Christian life is only as strong as its link to God, first and foremost, and then to the community of God’s people. Maintaining a vital link to God requires entering and pressing into God’s presence daily. This article provides a list of resources to restore the souls of clergywomen who find themselves overcompensating in order to prove they are competent, going over and beyond the call of duty, and exerting an abundance of energy that ultimately depletes the spirit, mind, and body. Even in the face of hegemonic systems within the Church and the world that erode our efforts, we cannot fail to give attention to our wounded souls in order to remain relevant in the process of “kin-dom.”1 To speak the truth with power involves first acknowledging that the revelation of truth can come only from God’s Spirit. The paradox of assurance and uncertainty leaves our spirits dry and parched; yet frequently we forget to drink from the well of hope and possibility. How then do we guide God’s people toward the stream of worship that refreshes and transforms if, as pastors and guides, we are totally dehydrated? How can we effectively contest the substantial blockades to the renovation of inequitable conditions found in the Church and in the world, and at the same time bring about spiritual renewal and edification of the saints if our life force is parched and dry? When we have been intentional about replenishing the core of our essence, the ways that we sing, pray, preach, and commune can and do offer glimpses of a more excellent way toward justice, equality, and reconciliation.
1. Springs of Hope Beside Still Waters:
Imathiu, R. Grace. Words of Fire, Spirit of Grace. Edited by David H. Jones. Porjus, Sweden: True North, 2003.
Weems, Renita. Showing Mary: How Women Can Share Prayers, Wisdom, and the Blessings of God. New York: Warner Books, 2002.
Winter, Miriam Therese. Woman Prayer, Woman Song: Resources for Ritual. New York: Crossroad, 1987.
2. Showers of Thirsty Souls Refreshing:
Davis, Valerie Bridgeman, and Safiyah Fosua, eds. The Africana Worship Book: Year C. Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 2008.
Duck, Ruth C., and Maren C. Tirabassi, eds. Touch Holiness: Resources for Worship. Cleveland: United Church Press, 1990.
Epperly, Bruce G. Healing Worship: Purpose and Practice. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2006.
Henderson, J. Frank, ed. Remembering the Women: Women’s Stories from Scripture for Sundays and Festivals. Archdiocese of Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1998.
3. Songs of Refreshment:
Beehler, Susan R. “The Women Must Be Gathering.” WellSprings 9, no. 2 (2001): 15. (This hymn was created from the stories shared by the clergywomen of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference, 1979–1987.)
Bell, John L. “There Is a Line of Women.” In One Is the Body: Songs of Unity and Diversity, 18. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2002.
Duck, Ruth C., and Michael G. Bausch, eds. Everflowing Streams: Songs for Worship. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1982.
Etzler, Carol. “Sometimes I Wish.” In Everflowing Streams, edited by Ruth C. Duck and Michael G. Bausch, 73. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1982.
Farquharson, Walter. “Walls That Divide.” In Everflowing Streams, edited by Ruth C. Duck and Michael G. Bausch, 59. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1982.
Fisher, Elizabeth. “The Healing Journey: Learning to Follow Our Inner Voice.” Sage Woman Magazine 63 (December 2003–March 2004): 19–20. http://www.riseupandcallhername.com/images/IMG_0001.pdf.
Frazier, David. “I Need You to Survive.” In Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation, edited by Myron McCoy, 219. Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 2007.
Maddela, Tom. “Three Women.” In Sound the Bamboo: CCA Hymnal 1990, edited by Francisco F. Feliciano, James Minchin, and I-to Loh, 186. Manila: The Christian Conference of Asia & the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, 1990.
Martinez, Raquel Mora. “Liberator of All Nations.” In Everflowing Streams, edited by Ruth C. Duck and Michael G. Bausch, 20. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1982.
Page, Johnetta Johnson. “Early in the Morning.” In Zion Still Sings! For Every Generation, edited by Myron McCoy, 150. Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 2007.
Wallace, Bill (W. L.), “Although a Man, Yes, Mary’s Son.” In Sound the Bamboo: CCA Hymnal 1990, edited by Francisco F. Feliciano, James Minchin, and I-to Loh, 188. Manila: The Christian Conference of Asia & the Asian Institute for Liturgy and Music, 1990.
1 Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz, “Solidarity: Love of Neighbor in the 1980s,” in Lift Every Voice: Constructing Christian Theologies from the Underside, ed. Susan Brooks Thistlewaite and Mary Potter Engel, 31–40 (San Francisco: Harper, 1990).