by Emmy Kegler
Fortress Press, 2019
Reviewed by Catherine Bailey
One wandering sheep or a single lost coin. For those of us who have felt lost, forgotten, hungry, or rejected, these are powerful metaphors. Biblical stories can comfort, reframe, and re-name our relationship with God. One Coin Found is part vulnerable memoir and part exploration of the Bible (including many of the most difficult spots), and Emmy Kegler holds the reader close to let us know that everything will be all right and that God will continue to seek us out, no matter what. If we are the forgotten, dusty, and lost coin, God searches all her pockets and every dirty corner of the house to find us. Wow.
Emmy—I feel like I’m on a first-name basis with her after reading this warm embrace of a book—is an ordained Lutheran pastor in Minneapolis, and as a queer woman growing up in the church, she learned how Scripture can be used to wound and exclude. At age 14, she understood she was gay, but while she experienced rejection and pain within her spiritual communities, she sought answers through her own exploration of the Bible. Her family, while a loving one, was also a source of challenges, since her father was alcoholic and experienced many medical problems. Emmy shares her struggles with depression, her journey with psychotherapy, and, ultimately, the reconciliation with and joy in her faith, her queerness, and her family.
As she states, she sought for years, looking for a clear explanation of the Christian life, but there it was in front of her – a paradox. She writes, “Faith is not a solution to be mastered but a mystery, a navigation between my liberation from self-righteousness and my call to care for my neighbor in need. The Scriptures were not a story to be conquered and contextualized but a promise of reality met with grace.”
One Coin Found is Emmy’s journey of discovery, pain, and, ultimately, peace. One of the most treasured aspects of the book is her storytelling ability; it is both very personal and biblical. There are many distinct yet interconnected stories that feel like “mini-sermons” and, like with other good storytellers, the reader doesn’t soon forget them.
I found myself both comforted and energized by her personal story and the interweaving of the Good News, and I was also excited to find her extensive notes, bibliography, and suggested readings at the end of the book. In this way, she gives us additional tools to continue to discover and reconcile our own stories.
Emmy is also an avid blogger and the founder and coeditor of Queer Grace Encyclopedia. The associated website, queergrace.com, has resources for important topics, including language use, reconciling one’s faith and queerness, and also feminist theology.
The late Rachel Held Evans wrote the foreword to One Coin Found, which was published a few months before RHE passed away. In the foreword, she writes, “This book is water in the desert, a table of fresh food in the wilderness.” For all of us lost sheep and dusty coins, I can’t think of a better description of this book.
Read more on CFT about Emmy Kegler and her work:
WeConnect Featured Speaker Emmy Kegler
Interview with weconnect Featured Speaker Emmy Kegler
Pride Month Interviews with LGBTQ+ Clergy
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