A preacher says coming to church in drag is “a theological reflection on joy”.
St Luke’s Lutheran Church in Chicago proudly shared photos of preacher Aaron Musser preaching to a group of children while wearing a blonde wig, white dress and make-up.
They were taken last Sunday, when Musser chose to read a religious book about joy to mark “rejoice Sunday”.
“It’s a chance for us to rehearse what a life of joy could look like. It’s a dress rehearsal,” said Musser in a post on Facebook.
“Preaching in drag is a theological reflection on joy: Joy overflows so abundantly, it can’t help but make itself known. Weaving together the day’s theme, queer theory, and lectionary texts, we will ‘dress rehearse’ for joy.”
The church said that it wanted everyone “to wear garments/accessories that make you feel 100 per cent like the best version of yourself.”
In a post on the church’s Facebook page, Musser further explained why he decided to drag up for church.
“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. 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,” he said.
“I decided to follow their example, showing that liberation from oppressive laws clears a path for joy. 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 pastor-in-training has a history of speaking openly in defence of the LGBT+ community. On his personal Facebook page, he stated that “queerness is sacred”, as well as “beautiful and a right”.
The comments under the pictures of Musser showed the support of many churchgoers, labelling the preacher’s act “beautiful” and “authentic”.
“Yes! Joy is liberating and vulnerable! As is the Jesus’ Gospel! Thanks for showing that so beautifully and for living what you preach! You look gorgeous!” commented one person.
“These photos radiate joy like a beacon calling us to the holiness of Advent!” responded another. “I am sure your message in person radiated the same joy!”
A third labelled the event “one of the most inspiring services [she has] attended in a long time”. She summed up her mood in a moving proclamation: “Joy comes in so many places, but Joy can only come when you allow yourself to be liberated! Joy is LIBERATION!!”
Unfortunately, despite an outpouring of support, the preacher was also branded “sick” by critics.
“We’ve frozen comments on this post for the time being,” stated the church on Facebook. “We appreciate all the love and encourage you to keep praying for full inclusion, affirmation, and justice for LGBTQIA+ people in the church.”