“The calling of the queen is not to rule, but to host the banquet where the Spirit of God may be present with his people.” – Cathy Loerzel*
I confess that I had low expectations and maybe even a mild sense of dread as I pulled into the parking space at my mother’s Baptist church. Since my father died last fall, I have been Mom’s caregiver, chauffeur, and companion, so when she mentioned that she was interested in attending a senior adult Bible study, I marked the date on both of our calendars with a sigh. Bible studies were a constant during my formative years and a steady part of my life until three years ago when my husband and I left our church. The thought of walking back into such a group felt fraught with complicated emotions.
Walking around the car, I took a deep breath to steady myself and offered Mom my arm to steady her as we walked into the building. Upon entering the large room, I noticed that it had been set up with several long rectangle tables facing a wooden podium. Mom and I chose an empty table on which to deposit our Bibles and bags, and I walked to the coffee pot, scanning the room for anyone who appeared to be our teacher. I looked for a man bearing the look of a retired Baptist preacher—neatly dressed, perfectly combed hair, polished smile—but the men in the room were already seated at tables. That’s when I noticed her, a diminutive woman with a crown of snow-white hair, stepping to the podium.
It took a few tries before the assembled group quieted enough for the podium’s microphone to pick up her voice, but as soon as she had our attention, she kept it for the next 90 minutes. She greeted the attendees who were with us via Zoom (she learned to hold her Bible studies on Zoom during the pandemic); prompted introductions of new attendees, checked in with everyone regarding prayer requests, and then began to teach from the book of 1 Thessalonians.
It didn’t take long before I realized I should have brought a notebook; I flipped to the back of her eight-page syllabus to scribble notes throughout her informative, insightful lesson. I found myself hanging on her every word, and by the end of the lesson, I had texted my friend Donna to exclaim, “You have got to come with me to Bible study next week!”
What was it about this woman that so captured my attention?
Her knowledge? Her wisdom? Yes and yes! Her charisma? Her command of the room? For sure! The fact that men were in the class, willing and eager to be taught by her (in a Baptist church, no less)? Extraordinary!
And the fact that she was 94 years old. Let me say that again…94 years old! Absolutely inspiring!
This aged woman—a teacher, leader, matriarch, and muse—set the table and invited us to join her for the feast. And sitting there, watching and listening to her, I felt stirred to do the same. No excuses, no disqualifiers, no limits.
* Redeeming Heartache: How Past Suffering Reveals Our True Calling by Dr. Dan Allender and Cathy Loerzel, MA
Susan Tucker is a lifelong lover of story, and with curiosity and openness, she often explores in her writing the tension that life holds. A former English teacher, Susan loves meaningful use of language, especially when used to stir the soul and whet one’s appetite for more truth, goodness, and beauty. Compelled by a burgeoning interest in trauma recovery, she pursued training at The Allender Center, completing the Certificate in Narrative Focused Trauma Care, Level I and Level 2. Susan and Tim, her husband of 27 years, are the parents of two sons, now young adults, and adjusting to their newly empty nest.nbsp
This one really resonates having been raised extra-Baptist in the South. Great story.
Thank you for reading and for your response. I deeply connect with your description–“raised extra-Baptist in the South.”
Susan! I should have known instantly it was you writing!!! This topic pings me in so many ways. Bible studies are a hot button for me because I have found them a place where people hide. With violence. I am not a complementarian, so it seems completely ignorant to me for women to be dismissed from speaking about their experience of God. Of course God speaks and works through women!!! Age . . I have decided over the years (I’m 73) that most “Christians” do not actually believe there is life after death, that it’s this body that is dying, not the me in it and why would I loose interest in God, relating, science or even dance! That God sent Abraham AND Sara, Moses and Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptist), there is no “retirement”!
Cathy’s quote is perfect. “host a banquet”. Yes!!! Where curiosity and questions fill the atmosphere. Where truth can safely be spoken and the speaker is confident they will not receive shame or judgment. They will know listeners believe them and feel being seen. YOU do that in an extraordinary way. I thank God for knowing you.
You are so lovely and kind to me, Ginger. I am greatly blessed to know you, and I’ve been so fortunate to enjoy spaces with you when we can engage our questions (and stories) with curiosity, kindness, and care. I appreciate everything you shared in your thoughtful response, but this comment blew my mind: “most “Christians” do not actually believe there is life after death…” Such an astute observation that I will be pondering. ❤️
Beautifully written, Susan! Love your open heart and mind.
Natalie, thank you so much for reading and responding. Such a comment from someone with such a big heart and bright mind means a great deal to me–thank you. I look forward to being with you — albeit virtually — soon!
Well…I wish I was there to attend! Sounds fabulous…thank you for the reminder that God is on the move even in my resistance to step foot in another Baptist church. You have given me the curiosity and courage to step out of my rut and go for a local Bible Study. Blessings to you and your mom.
Mary Jane, your word “resistance” articulates succinctly what I felt in my soul with this “invitation.” To say I was surprised by the redemptive gift it turned out to be would be an understatement. God is dear and playful in how he brought about healing through this petite but powerful sage. I hope that if you do indeed enter back into a study that you are met with surprising goodness too.
Oh Susan!! What an angel daughter you are!! And knowing you, I wouldn’t expect anything else about how you care for your mother… because you care for everyone with such goodness and honor. May you and your mom and friends feast on the glorious wisdom of this beautiful teacher! I love your writing. Thank you. Love, Becky
Thank you for your extremely kind words, Becky. “Angel daughter” is a generous compliment of which I’m unworthy, but I know you to see well, so I will hold your words with deep gratitude. Thank you.
Loved reading this Susan <3 So glad to be welcomed in to the tale.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Grace. I’m glad you felt welcome.