And let the Church say Amen!
By Melissa Hrdlicka

When I enter a room, especially with my collar on, people tend to notice me. I am almost 6 feet tall, I have red hair, I’m plus-sized, and I have a fairly loud voice and laugh. I take up space, and this used to be something that made me shrink. As a kid I would hunch over so I didn’t tower over as many people and say my hair is brown and I wouldn’t speak unless spoken to. 
I loathed the largeness of my body and the loudness of my voice almost all of the time except when I was at a concert. At a concert I can see over everyone’s heads, I can sing as loud as I want knowing no one will hear me, and I can join in the collective dance knowing somehow I belong here. In a crowd with music pumping, I didn’t care how much space I was taking up. I was just there in the moment embracing all of me. As Sabrina Benaim said in her poem First Date, “I like my body best when I am not worried about how much space it is taking up, I mean dancing!”   
As a new pastor, I am still learning how to take up this space, how to let my name come second to my role and yet not be fully consumed by this beautiful, challenging, and important work. 
I am learning how to do this through a group of fellow queer pastors who meet weekly for text study over Zoom. Our jobs are often heavy so to lighten the space we start with songs either relating to the text or how we were feeling that day and we all dance in our little zoom squares like a silent disco. 
When someone offered “Amen” by Todrick Hall, I danced around my home office and suddenly everything came back together for me. I no longer worried about how much space I was taking up, I was just dancing. 
Even states apart, I felt safe in this sacred space we shared. This song was a call to worship for all of us queer preachers doing our best in ministry that doesn’t always love us, and doesn’t always allow us space to flourish. But in this moment of dancing in our own little boxes, we were free. 
The song beckons us in the same way I think Jesus would have, “come to the altar, you don’t have to be altered…come and rejoice here, come raise your voice here, love ain’t a choice here.” In Jesus there is no expectation, just an invitation to be in relationship with him and with each other just as we are. 
In the sacred space of music, queer community, and dancing, I find freedom, joy, and Jesus all over again. 
“And let the church say, Amen!”  

Melissa Hrdlicka (she/her/hers) is dancing her way through a year long term call at Grace Lutheran Church in Ripon, WI while the called pastor is deployed as a military chaplain. She finds joy in her cat Frankincense, frolicking through the forests, and making a splash in lakes, rivers, and Baptismal fonts!