‘Joy is difficult to feel, it’s vulnerable. But isn’t it so beautiful?’ pastor Aaron Musser asked in a Facebook post.
A Lutheran church in Chicago stepped up its inclusivity game big time earlier this month when it celebrated “rejoice Sunday” by welcoming its newly ordained gay pastor to lead the congregation in drag. St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square proudly took to Facebook on December 13 to share photographs of pastor Aaron Musser leading the service while dressed in a white dress and a blonde wig. “Today, we consider what it might be like to have a dress rehearsal for the kind of joy awaiting us on the other side of Advent. It’s been so hard to know what that joy will be because it’s been so long since some of us have been joyful. It’s been a difficult and tiring couple of years,” Musser said in the Facebook post explaining why he decided to dress in drag for the service.
“And I decided instead of telling you, ‘this is how I want you to be joyful,’ as we prepare for this dress rehearsal, I figured I would instead put on a dress as so many who have inspired me have done. I decided to follow their example, showing that liberation from oppressive laws clears a path for joy,” he continued. “But allowing yourself to feel joy can be scary. I wasn’t sure how the outside world would handle me when they saw me this morning. Joy is difficult to feel, it’s vulnerable. But isn’t it so beautiful?”
The church previously advertised the special service on their Facebook page where it invited churchgoers to “wear garments/accessories that make you feel 100%, like the best version of yourself.” The post also shared a message from Musser himself. “The sixth Sunday of advent is rejoice Sunday. It’s a chance for us to rehearse what a life of joy could look like. It’s a dress rehearsal. Preaching in drag is a theological reflection on joy: Joy overflows so abundantly, it can’t help but make itself known,” the message stated. “Weaving together the day’s theme, queer theory, and lectionary texts, we will ‘dress rehearse’ for joy.”
Musser’s presentation while in drag was met with a flood of positive responses on Facebook as internet users praised St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square for spreading the important message of inclusivity. “These photos radiate joy like a beacon calling us to the holiness of Advent! I am sure your message in person radiated the same joy,” commented Ashley Rosa-Ruggieri. “A joy-filled Sunday indeed! The art of drag is an untapped source of joy and storytelling in our communities, and it’s so exciting to see St. Luke’s leaning into it,” wrote Anders Nelson.
“Thank you for sharing your wonderful, beautiful, real, authentic story. If I lived in Chicago I would be so THANKFUL for my child to hear your message and be an example of living an authentic and liberated life. You just speak so much to my heart. Drag is something for me personally that speaks to my beliefs of God’s love and joy. Thank you for showing me and so many that church is a place where joy can happen! Drag is art, and drag is joy,” commented Michelle DeBeauchamp Olafsen, while Sarena Griffin wrote: “Seminarian Aaron, This was one of the most inspiring services I have attended in a long time! You know what you taught our children, and adults need joy! Joy comes in so many places, but Joy can only come when you allow yourself to be liberated! Joy is LIBERATION.”