Then: Biblical Women in Ministry
Quote for today:
Mary Donovan Turner examined the story of Miriam’s song, finding in it the completion of the Exodus. The event is only complete once it is celebrated.
The singing of Miriam is as bold as her own later questioning in Numbers 12:2, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us [Miriam and Aaron] also?” The editor of Exodus has already answered the question for us by providing a subversive answer, one that subtly provides a corrective to the leprous consequences that Miriam later experiences for asking such an audacious question. Is it only through Moses that God speaks? No, Miriam the prophet leads the women in speaking for and to their God.
The questions of who can be the preacher, the liturgist, the ritualist, the performer are ones that have plagued and continue to plague Christian communities. What does it mean for those who have been silenced and marginalized from the pulpit? By taking up her tambourine and singing and dancing, perhaps Miriam simply represents a community of women prepared and designated as the ones who sing songs of celebration just when they are needed. But to do so as a prophet is something more. To be called a prophet is to be affirmed as God’s spokesperson. When a person who is oppressed and silenced stands and speaks, that person experiences redemption. It is a redemptive moment for individual and community because it relies on grace and moves toward wholeness. It is healing because it moves us toward our godlikeness. The internal movement is from fear to faith, shame to acceptance, guilt to forgiveness, denial to affirmation. It is a mysterious and sacramental moment. Moving from silence to speech for any oppressed, colonized, or exploited being is healing. The gesture or defiance makes new life possible. It is liberation.
Clayton J. Schmit and Jana Childers.
Performance in Preaching : Bringing the Sermon to Life, Engaging Worship.
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008, p 96.
Women in the bible
As we seek the will of God for the role of women in the church, let us consider the witness of scripture as a whole. The sacred texts of the OT and NT record stories of many women who actively worked for the kingdom of God, who were given authority over men, and who proclaimed the gospel of Jesus. Here we highlight examples of women who acted confidently in particular situations and who fulfilled roles similar to those taken by men.