(This is inspired by a Disciples of Christ minister that my wife and I dearly love and are honored to call a best friend.)
There once was a liberal Christian minister who when alone or with staff dropped a particularly naughty word that started with “F” It wasn’t often, but believe her when she says that ministers DO swear.
It’s a trade secret.
They also run stop signs sometimes.
But this particular minister felt very guilty about it.
One night she had a dream. She dreamed that she got a letter from God Himself! Her hands shook as she took it out of her mailbox. She immediately called all her congregation and friends to come see it with her.
Soon there was a crowd outside the front door of the Church, but because this was a dream everyone was sitting on Happy Meal boxes from McDonalds and her husband had on a pirate hat.
“Read the letter! Read the letter!” they chanted.
Excitedly, she opened it. In it were eight words in golden in of a script so beautiful it brought a tear to her eye. She read it to herself first. She wanted to get every word perfect.
I Fucking love you.
“Read it! READ IT!” They cried.
She stumbled quite a bit.
“I … I … can’t.”
“Read it ALOUD! Read it! Read it! Give us His Holy Word!”
“There must be a mistake … Is this a joke?…” She flipped over the envelope.
“Read it! Read it!”
“Yes, that’s Heaven’s postmark and God’s seal on the envelope,” she said to herself.
She knew what she had to do. She swallowed. She squared her feet. Lifted her chin and declared the letter clearly word for word.
Silence followed, but then after three minutes of awkward silence…
“BLASPHEMER! BLASPHEMER! God would never use such foul language!”
A Chocolate milk shake was thrown at her, by her trusted secretary dressed in baby clothes. It hit her on the head right as she woke up.
It was still dark.
She remembered that was Sunday morning, and got up from her bed. She put on a robe and slippers and went over to her study. She turned on the light, sat at her desk, and added the dream to the end of her sermon and went back to bed.
Later at the service that day…
“Brother and sisters, that’s the story of my secret misuse of the ‘F’ word that begins with ‘F’ and ends in ‘uck’ and isn’t ‘Firetruck.'”
The congregation chuckled at her delivery of the line.
“I promise to try to not use it anymore after today. But remember, it’s the message that matters, not what is used to say it. For me, its up to God to use that word if he chooses to.”
Her voice started cracking.
“Now we do WEIRD things in dreams don’t we? And … I don’t really know if this was a message from God … but … one never knows. But one thing I do know … being a woman in ministry isn’t easy in the South … and … I’m only going to say this ONE TIME and I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of it.”
She held her fist to her mouth and steeled her resolve.
“I’ve had so many people tell me that a woman should not preach from the pulpit. But I must. I’m called to. And this Church has been SO good to me. I know this now because I know this Church would never censor a message I really felt came from the Holy One … and boy have I got a message to share.”
She wiped a tear.
“I’m sorry, I’m such a wreck right now. It’s just … I … n-now have a letter in my heart that says my God … LOVES … me in a way I’ve never heard it before …”
“… and I must declare to the world regardless of the cost that … ”
She swallowed, squared her feet and lifted her chin.
“My God FUCKING loves me and he FUCKING loves every one of you!”
Cheering broke out. Tears were everywhere. People came forward at the invitation to bear witness to the world that their God fucking loved them.
Lots of hugs that day.