By Anna Sieges 10/14/2019
I still remember the first time I heard a woman preach. I was in seminary, and a woman stood behind our chapel pulpit and preached. She was not “sharing” or “giving a testimony”—she was preaching and she called it that. I do not remember the message, but I do remember the impact that her female body and female voice had on me, sitting in the pews. It was the first time that I had (knowingly) heard a message from God through a woman’s voice—a voice that was not unlike my own.
Who is God and how does God Speak?
That experience opened up in me a new way of thinking about who God is and how God might speak. I was specializing in the Old Testament in seminary and felt called to teach. I knew well that God had created humanity in God’s image, regardless of gender. And yet, I had never stopped to consider how the image of God in me, which was particularly female, might be reflected to the world to show God’s glory. I had come to think about my calling as separate from (and really, having nothing to do with) my female embodiment. However, that experience of hearing God’s words in a woman’s voice changed me! If God’s image is equally present in every person, regardless of gender, then, God is gender-full! Indeed, my woman-ness (body, experiences, desires, perspectives, etc.) is a crucial aspect of God’s image here on earth.
The Glory of God is at Stake
So, why women in ministry? Good heavens! Because if we exclude women, we exclude the image of God! We limit ourselves to hearing from and experiencing God only through men. What a small view of the creator of the universe and the lover of our souls. Similarly, if we limit who can preach and lead and minister to only men, we limit who can exercise their God-given gifts and glorify God. Why women in ministry? Because the glory of God is at stake. Friends, that is something to take very seriously.
I now worship at a church that ordains and celebrates women in every ministry role. Since we began worshiping at First Baptist Forest City, I have watched two wonderfully called and gifted women be ordained. As my family and I went forward to lay hands on these women, I rejoiced that my daughter was able to see God’s image and glory displayed in people who, like her, are female. However, I also worried that my daughter’s understanding of the gender-fullness of God might be impaired because, in her short life, she had only ever seen women ordained. Luckily, that shortcoming was somewhat remedied this September when we celebrated the ordination of my brother. Emmie finally witnessed a man’s ordination! Praise God in all Her fullness! Now when she makes-believe about pastors, her Ken dolls have the same access to anointed ministry as her Barbies do.
It is amazing what our imaginations can hold when we see the possibility modeled. For me, it took a woman standing up to preach to break through my notions about who God is and whom God calls.
Enlarging our Imaginations
This is why I support Baptist Women in Ministry: because sometimes our imaginations are too small for the fullness of God’s glory. I want to see more women in every area of ministry so that our vision of the image and glory of God might reflect the gender-fullness of God—for God’s glory!
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