God made man and woman, male and female, not only to belong to Him, but also to one another. Woman, created as ‘female’, is neither inferior nor independent of the male. The female cannot have her fulfillment by herself in isolation, but through her relationships in the community she is placed in. Her identity is expressed and established, through relationships with others in her given contexts. No matter what her context is, she finds true freedom through Jesus’ promise, ‘If the Son shall set you free you shall be free indeed.’ ( John8:32). Thus she is strengthened to persevere to fulfil her responsibilities patiently, through the constraints laid on her. Applying the reality of solidarity, women too will work for the good of the whole of their given contexts, even though it may mean restraining themselves from doing selfishly what they like to do. Their leadership is one of service following the characteristics of Jesus’ selfless service and servant leadership. Their relationships with other men and women will free them to give space to empower them also
The best of women’s ministry, like the men’s, is informal, domestic, and non-institutional rather than official and role- regulated. A woman leader demonstrates the life of Jesus through her selfless services of love. Thus the ordinary women’s ministry is a far larger subject than women’s ordination to office, with only a few in it.
Our vision of our own nature and that of our community has an importance beyond our own identity. “Created in the image’ of three self-giving Persons of the Triune God, we are called to live in solidarity with others in the community, not for ourselves alone. So what we do governs everything about our relationship to the life in the world. If we truly believe that we are daughters and sons in the family of God, then we have a responsibility to nurture this sisterhood and brotherhood within this family. We are called and gifted by God to give space to one another, to help us grow and develop in unity, love by the giving away of ourselves for the good of others. We will gather to be fed, and scatter to be food for others, to be Jesus in our world.
Laity is mostly neglected in the Church. Women have regretfully testified that though their leadership qualities are sought after and used in the secular fields, ‘they shrink into insignificance, when they are in the Church’ commented a Indian woman leader sadly. In a world where women serve as prime ministers, ambassadors and business executives, as well as carry out their responsibilities in their home, some are rightly questioning the Church on the prescribed limits within which women must often serve.
How can the Church of Jesus Christ be a fully functioning, witnessing Church, when
more than half of the members are inactive, and fettered? If the Church continues to fail to develop and use the gifts of women, the Church will not only be deeply deprived of this vast untapped potential, but she may well lose them instead to the services in the world which are wide open for them. In this emergence of women’s leadership today, the Church which should have been ahead, is lagging far behind instead! Will the Church awaken to this gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit? May the Breath of the Holy Spirit breathe again, to restore them to life and active service! It is ‘not good’ for man to serve alone in isolation, without the fulfilling partnership of God’s ‘helper’ which alone can bring wholeness to His Body.
A cry of anguish and pain:
Today in our country, a cry is heard. It is a cry of anguish and pain. It is the cry of women in families, in Churches and communities, being treated unjustly, being abused and being killed. This cry is heard from the ‘womb to the tomb’! It is the cry that this new community which is Christ’s Body, called to show forth His glory, including justice and healing, is not doing that. The cry has not been coming forth only just now. Women have been crying out for years. Will the Church hear and respond?
Dr. Juliet Thomas, Editor, Vashti Magazine.