‘It is a universally acknowledged truth that a single man in possession of a good fortune is in want of a wife.’ – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.
It is 8:40 in the evening and I steal into our little entryway at the end of Almond Tree Lane. I plug in the heater, take out my Bible, arrange the computer, light a candle for atmosphere and wait. Behind the door that I have just closed, I can hear girl giggles at the antics of their new puppy mix with their daddy’s masculine tones. The time is almost near.
This inconspicuous interview, sandwiched in between the homework dash and the laundry crush and the puppy’s training, is the last hurdle between now and being ordained as a minister. It is controversial.
Women as pastors?
Ordain a woman?
Oh, there is a lot of controversy. A lot of conversation. A lot of theologizing over this very question.
Herecy? Or the priesthood of all believers?
I could go there. I could write about Junia. Or Priscilla. Or the New Testament words of Jesus that create a level playing field for all of us.
Most of the time, the arguments, the theology, the proofs fall on deaf ears. ‘He who has ears, let him hear,’ Jesus said. Some don’t.
But, in a world where a Chinese doctor sells newborns to sex traffickers, how relevant is this discussion?
In a world where Egyptian women, some of them illiterate, believe that they can change the course of their nation and with faith, cast their vote against the power structure of the Muslim Brotherhood, do we dare believe that God does not use women?
In a world where Afghan women risk their very lives to let the words of poetry roll a path of freedom across a muslim nation, do we still believe that God does not inhabit the feminine voices of the voiceless?
In a world where African girls are laid out in a tent and mutilated for the purposes of sexual purity, how clear is the clarion call for new understandings of heart holiness?
So, yes, we can spend our time debating Junia and Priscilla and the the theological perimeters of a patriarchal society. We can talk context in Paul’s letters. I could even meet you for a stroll around the revolutionarily affirming words and attitudes and actions of Jesus toward the women in his world.
Or, we can get our hands dirty in ministry, you and I. Together.
We can value the giftings that God has given each of us, irrespective of gender or culture or generation or color. We can embrace the beautifully heartbreaking reality that God has assigned each of us a parish – a place of pain, and sin, and suffering full of ordinary people who desperately need.
They need freedom. They need a voice. They need spiritual food. They need physical food and medicine and education and protection. They need Jesus. And quite frankly, in the moment of their deepest suffering, they don’t care if the arms of Jesus belong to a man or a woman.
They care that Jesus has the power to save them. And He does.
So, right here in the middle of an entryway from which 5 women in the making and one man daily make our exit into the world that lives beyond Almond Tree Lane, I hit a button and connect with a board room in a church in Texas. Right here in the middle of the mundane mess of a Monday of laundry and meals and backpacks and puppy treats, I become part of a long line of men and women who testify to God’s call on their lives to preach his good message.
Tomorrow, I wil teach a class about an author named Jane Austen who challenged the chains that bound her generation. I will meet for coffee and deliver clothes to the family shelter and practice my horrible Hungarian and try to connect a ministry that cares about prostitutes in Hungary to the Open Door, a ministry that cares about prostitutes in Romania. And, I will make a meal and fold some laundry and redirect algebra questions to the father of the house, and say a prayer at the end of the day that our four little women recognized Jesus in their lives today and that they let HIM make them lights in the world that lives beyond Almond Tree Lane.
Ordain a woman?
2014. November. Central Europe Field. Bulgaria.
Thank you, South Texas District.
And, most of all, thank you, Jesus, for calling me and equipping me and using me … as a woman.