authority

Today’s Word: Matthew 21:23-32

About 15 years ago, as I was standing at the back of the sanctuary at the Presbyterian Church in Henderson, shaking hands after the service, it happened.

A woman I did not know made her way to the front of the line (to me), and instead of shaking my hand, she raised her finger and pointed it at my face. I recognized her as the visitor in our service who sat during all of the hymns and during my sermon with her arms crossed and her head pointed away from the front of the sanctuary.

With her finger raised at my face, she began, “Young lady, what gives you the authority to preach? The scripture is clear and you are in violation of it…”

I don’t really remember what happened next. I know she ranted for a moment, I know I gave a feeble answer, and I know that one of our church elders took up the argument with her on the front lawn of the church.

I was a bit blindsided. It wasn’t that no one had ever questioned my authority to preach and lead ministry before–being a woman in ministry means this is just an expected thing that happens with a fair amount of frequency. I just wasn’t expecting it to happen in the sanctuary of my own church.

I wish I had been as witty as Jesus, who knew the whole “what gives you the authority…” thing too well–and always in his own “church!”

23When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Matthew 21:23-24

The photo is of the vestments I wear to lead worship. I don’t wear them because I want people to know that I have authority–I wear them because they symbolize the authority of God. The stoles I wear symbolize the yoke of Christ I received in my ordination, and my call to proclaim the Word of God.

What has God called and authorized you to do? It might be something no one else understands, but if you are called, you do it!

Peace be with you.