Christians are witnesses. And one aspect of our witness is that we point to the goodness of creation and of our place in it. We point out that creation is made up of many creatures and persons who are different from ourselves. We acknowledge how different they are, and that we rely on them to be different from ourselves. We do not attempt either to absorb them or to substitute for them. Individually we do not try to be everything. We do not try to replace all others and so do without them. We do not try to make them redundant, or make ourselves entirely autonomous. We do not cut them out of our lives and insist that we will not miss them. We acknowledge that we live in a world made up of many other persons whom we do not determine, and we affirm that they are good, just as they are. So we are witnesses to the independent existence of beings other than ourselves, and we affirm that it is good so.
God loves us. And God loves those who are not us. We are witnesses to his love. We hope we can love whoever comes our way. We hope for great relationships of love, that over time will blossom out into further great relationships of love. Meanwhile we wait. We do not go to bed with the first man or woman who comes along, and then, bored or fearful, pack them off. We do not glue ourselves to one another only in order to tear ourselves away from one another again. We wait, sometimes contentedly, sometimes impatiently. Nevertheless, we wait. We are witnesses to what we do not yet have. Hope is our thing.
So a man can wait for a woman. A woman can wait for a man. Perhaps that waiting will stretch out to the end of their lives and they will not meet the woman or man who can become their one and only partner and companion. But in this waiting, they are nonetheless witnesses to love, the love of God they do have and the love of one particular person that they don’t have.
And so it is with women and ministry. They can wait. They can do so because they are Christians. Christians serve and wait and look forward to what they do not yet have. They are witnesses to the future. Hope is our thing, and waiting and looking forward to what we do not yet possess is our distinctive way. If we cannot wait, we do not act as Christians and so are not good models of the Christian life, and the Church cannot choose us to be its ministers for other more particular purposes. We must be content to watch many people go ahead of us. We may not see why there should be a difference between them and us, but we can affirm that there always will be, and should be, differences between us. This waiting and pointing to what we do not yet possess is itself the ministry of every Christian. The Christian who does not grasp this, and attempt to be faithful in this way, is certainly not ready for any other ministry.