By Lydia E. Muñoz
So there she was, anxiously watching and waiting for the right time, knowing that once she walked through that doorway, things would never be the same. Yet, the perfume she held in her hands could not compare with the overwhelming gratitude she carried in her heart for the one person who looked into her soul and saw her sacred worth.
This was the story that stirred my heart and soul and called me into ministry as an ordained elder. I had read this story many times growing up, and I have always been fascinated with encounters of women with Jesus but never like this. This time I was listening with different ears and I found myself at a doorway invited and even challenged to walk through and follow in the example of the woman I found in the gospel but whose voice I finally heard in the voice of another woman who became such a powerful influence in my life even though she never really knew it.
The first women was the woman described in the gospel of John by the name of Mary and who appears in Luke even though she was never given a name but a bad reputation instead. For me, this story has always read like the same woman, the same dinner party and the same narrow doorway, even though most scholars agree that it was not. But I always saw Mary in that doorway, knowing full well that she was not one of the invited guests, knowing full well that she knew that there was no space in that table for her — or for any woman, for that matter. She must have had knots in her stomach just thinking about all the ways that this particular move could go wrong for her. Yet none of this was strong enough to keep her away. She had looked into the eyes of Jesus. He saw her, healed her, forgave and restored her and she was made whole. Now there was only one thing between her and Jesus: a doorway.
The second woman was Bishop Susan Morrison. I met Bishop Morrison while working as the receptionist at our conference office back when I was just 22 years old. She was the first woman I had ever met who was a bishop and I thought that in itself was pretty amazing, but then I began to find out all the things she was doing on behalf of women and for our Church. She was the Bishop with a little red convertible Miata, and more moxie than I had ever witnessed in the face of a conference that had its first experience of a female Bishop. But my most favorable memory of Bishop Morrison was during a weekend retreat that she had encouraged me to attend. It was a retreat for young adults who might be exploring a call to ministry and she was to be the keynote speaker for the first evening. The text she chose was the text about the woman who walked through the doorway to anoint Jesus’ head and wash his feet. At the end of her words it was as if I was the only one in the room when she asked, “so what is keeping you from walking through that doorway?”
So there I was, anxiously watching and waiting for this time, knowing that once I walked through this doorway, things would never be the same. That night I did, and it was Bishop Susan Morrison that opened the door.
Lydia Esther Muñoz is pastor of PlumbLine UMC, a new start up church in the Philadelphia area. She is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and is pursuing her Doctor of Ministry degree in Worship, Preaching and Spirituality at Drew Theological School. This conference year, Lydia is hoping to be ordained as a full elder in the Church, making her journey that started with a simple doorway come full circle.