My Dad was a pastor. He began his ministry in the early 50’s, when mainline churches were growing like weeds and a clerical collar would elicit a discount at the local department store and a complementary membership in the country club.
Not so for my son, who has also worked a pastor. He paid full price for his coffee at Starbucks, where he led discussions with Millennials who wouldn’t dream of darkening the door of his grandfather’s church.
My dad was a pastor. After serving in World War II, he went to college on the G.I. Bill and then on to seminary. Like other mainline denominations, the Presbyterian Church was in full growth mode back then, and clergy ranked high in polls among the nation’s most trusted and respected professionals.
Proverbs 31 used to be a standard at funerals. That was before we realized that womanly virtue meant more than giving a husband bragging rites in the city gates. I use to think it my pastoral duty to root out both masculine and feminine stereotypes in liturgy, hymnody and scripture. Now I’m not so sure.
Those of us who follow the lectionary have encountered the industrious woman of Proverbs 31 many times. Every three years she appears with her wool and flax, her distaff and spindle, her keen eye for both fashion and a good deal, her open hand to the poor, and her penchant for providing her husband bragging rights at the city gates. But we haven’t always welcomed her.
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