In Hebrews the cloud of witnesses is not a handicap to the runners, weighing them down, but rather a dynamic help that sustains their efforts, helping them run faster. So too the memory of all these lives is not an antithesis to women's spiritual growth and involvement in the world but a presence that bolsters and encourages their efforts. Remembering the great crowd of female friends of God and prophets opens up possibilities for the future; their lives bespeak an unfinished agenda that is now in our hands; their memory is a challenge to action; their companionship points the way. Such a fully realized memory of the history of women's involvement with God issues in an irresistible call for conversion, away from the marginalization of women and their gifts in church and society and toward full recognition and equal participation. In effect, the summons to remember and to act because of the lives cherished in memory resounds as an integral part of contemporary women's spiritual journey and as a liberating paradigm for the ekklesia as a whole.

Elizabeth A. Johnson, Friends of God and Prophets