Back when I was trudging through the discernment process for ordination, I was asked to write short answers to a series of questions, including this one:
“What is your favorite story from the Hebrew Scriptures? Why?
That is a hard question, narrowing it down to one, because for me loving the faith is about loving the stories; more than anything else, I think the narrative is what shapes our understanding of who we are and who we want to be. If I had to pick one Old Testament favorite, it would be the story of the three visitors to Abraham and Sarah in Genesis 18. Laughing at God as Sarah did seems a perfectly understandable reaction under the circumstances. I love the suggestion that God comes to us in unexpected forms, and that providing hospitality to strangers might in turn bring us unexpected blessings. However, given my personal circumstances, being a 58-year-old woman who is asking to start over by going to seminary and being ordained, what resonates most strongly with me in this story is that God didn’t judge Sarah as too old to bring new things to life.”
Well, that answer had legs, I made it through the process, and the rest is history. And I think I’d give pretty much the same answer if I were asked that question today. We women have been working with God all along to bring new life into the world, not just through the fertility of women like Sarah and Mary, but in so many other ways—including ordained ministry.