Midwife of God

Prayer:  O come o come Emmanuel. Be with us and in us and lead us, as a hovering spirit, holy, now.  Amen.

12.19.21 Sermon:

Thanks for the invite to preach.  It was good for me to wrestle with just where God is these days, and to think about our almost over Advent days of waiting for the Baby Jesus to arrive once again.

One way to make room for Christ to come, again, could be to look beyond the literal biblical story, past the magic of Christmas lights and tinsel, and to take these biblical stories personally. A package marked fragile, live, and extra holy is about to be delivered to your door.

  • What if you decided to say YES and allow something new and sacred to grow inside of you, as Mary and Elizabeth did?

Consider the possibility that Gabriel has met you at your kitchen table. 

The message to you, to us, is just like the message to Mary:

  • Don’t be afraid. 
  • God is with you
  • God invites you to bring God’s presence into the world in 2022.   

This morning I will invite you to consider yourself both as the one who is giving birth to Christ. Emmanuel. GOD-WITH-US.  .

  • And – to flip the metaphor –

 I will use the ancient words from St. John of the Cross  to remind us that  

“ each of us is the midwife of God.  Each of us.” 

We are invited to midwife the Holy, to deliver God-with-us into our world.

God knows we could use a little Christmas this year. A little God with us.

  Just think what you saw on the news or read about in these last weeks:

  • We’ve seen fires and floods in our area; we watch tornadoes and will see more, as the consequences of our well intentioned and historic misunderstanding of the balance of earth air fire water animal plant human and aquatic life.  We didn’t mean to mess things up; but we did.
  • Many families and friendships are separated now by more than miles.  Where there had been friendly competition, now there is much more than a Ducks vs Beaver split.  People are seeing the same game and reading the scoreboard in such different ways that physical threats to neighbors and nation are emerging.
  • I was at a local neighborhood meeting this week, and heard one of our board members defend his bullying of children and their parents at a school vaccination clinic.  He believes he has a right to come to their car and yell, {{I will not repeat what he said because children are here } “the vaccine will kill your children”}} while the 9 year old who had just gotten her first shot, sat behind her mother inside their car.  He believes he was offering ‘informed consent” to her mom, and exercising his right to free speech.
  • We need a little of the best of Christmas, personally.  This Solstice Darkness time is real.  The season begs for time to curl up and reflect.
    • We pray for healing for people we love, and for ourselves.
    • In our everyday conversations, we hear through our own history and speak our best, and still we mis-communicate to people we love.  People we work with or friends or neighbors.  We pray for a light to lead us to listen again, and again, and again, until we hear one another into being our better selves.
    • We  pray for a tiny finger of hope to hang on to,  We are a can-do people and yet we are faced at times with exhaustion, depression, despair and we are people who become a NO CAN DO people. It is beyond us.

The story tells us that Mary got a little Christmas, whether she needed it or not.

The messenger of God told Mary that she would be pregnant,  And, oh by the way your old aunt Elizabeth is also pregnant – 6 months along already. 

        FOR NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD. 

       FOR NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD. 

The story is that Mary went with haste to the home of Elizabeth. It was also the home of Zechariah who was made speechless by his disbelief that he and Elizabeth could be expecting.  Elizabeth – for six months – had been the only voice in the household, watching in wonder as new life grew within her.

When Mary greeted Elizabeth, the story is

“ the child leaped in her womb.  And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out, “BLESSED ARE YOU among women, and

BLESSED is the fruit of your womb?  And WHY has this happened to ME?”

There must have been long days where Elizabeth and Mary talked it all through.  They hung out in the darkness of trying to understand where God was in difficult moments.

  • Mary repeating Gabriel’s words “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD”  to bring comfort to the growing ache in Elizabeth’s elderly body preparing for child birth . 
  • Elizabeth reminding Mary to rejoice IN GOD, and trust the promise that the   SON OF GOD was indeed the child in her womb. 

That God would become human,
is the most radical of religious ideas.

  Fully Human. In Human Vulnerability and making Human beings Sacred Holy God-holders. That incarnation, is our hope.  This is the heart of being a disciple of Christ.  A Christian.

 Remembering that God is in and within us, and in and within the world around us. Jesus came to make that as clear as blood and bone.

Listen to your darkness and trust that darkness to teach you, when you look at it with the light of God’s love surrounding you. Lean into the pain, at whatever level you can, to allow it to come close,  become one with you, and notice where God is.

Every Advent as I await the birth of Jesus, I am drawn to the words of Rumi who wrote:

Every midwife knows        

That not until a mother’s womb

Softens from the pain of labor        

Will a way unfold

And the infant find that opening to be born.                

      Oh friend!

There is a treasure in your heart,       

  It is heavy with child.

Listen.          

All the awakened ones,        

 Like trusted midwives,

Are saying —   welcome this pain.          

                 It opens the dark passage of grace.     – Rumi

We need to open to that grace: Emanuel.  GOD WITH US.  We are the embodiment of God.  {{YOU are Not God  – yet God is in you. }} And all things are in God.  All things.And the message of Jesus was pretty simple.

I was surprised: God showed up as an old white man strumming a guitar at the Hult Center last Sunday night.  Bruce Cockburn,  sang a song called ORDERS and as I listened I felt my soul leap with in me, and I said quietly, “Thank you Jesus!”

Love one another. I am with you always. Love.

Here are the words lyrics….

Lyrics:

The just the merciful the cruel
The stumbling well-intentioned fool
The deft the oaf the witless pawn
The golden one life smiles upon
The squalling infant in mid-squall
The neighbors fighting down the hall
The list is long; as I recall
Our orders said to love them all

The cynic and the crooked priest
The woman wise the sullen beast
The enemy outside the gate
The friend who leaves it all to fate
The drunk who tags the bathroom stall
The proud boy rushing to his fall,
The list is long; as I recall
Our orders said to love them all

The pastor preaching shades of hate
The self-inflating head of state
The black the blue the starved for bread
The dread the red the better dead
The sweet the vile the small the tall
The one who rises to the call
The list is long but as I recall
Our orders said to love them all

The one who lets his demons win
The one we think we’re better than
A challenge great—but as I recall
Our orders said to love them all

Maybe Mary needed to see be with Aunt Elizabeth for a awhile, to lean on her through those first weeks of morning sickness, to repeat the story of the angel’s message “ be not afraid.  With God nothing is impossible.  Blessed are you.”

After a time,  Mary came to be able to rest in those words and sing her Magnificant, which we read:   “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Luke 1: 46f

Mary’s YES to God’s invitation was essential, but so was her waiting and settling into the darkness of not seeing the promise all the time.  Days of asking the questions we know as our own:

  • That baby Jesus grown to crucified Lord is said to have cried out with us…MY GOD MY GOD, why have you forsaken me? WHERE are you?
    • Isn’t that exactly what I said after that community meeting.
    • What you said after the doctor’s call. 
    • When the news came on showing Kentucky’s tornado. 
      • My God, My God, Where are you?

And from deep in your heart, you listened. You remembered the promise made to us by crucified Lord turned to Risen Christ: “I am with you always” .   

I am here, God says, In human flesh…look to the one beside you. Across the aisle from you. And in the mirror when you get up in the morning. I am with you always.  Emanuel.  God is with us.

 I believe you each have within you that Holy presence, that wise teacher, that Word that was in the beginning with God, The Holy star-burst is now the Holy incarnate in your star-dusted body.

I leave you with the words from St. John of the Cross, known as a mystic,.  He wrote this poem, “If You Wanta”, near 1600 in Spain.

If you Want

 By St. John of the Cross

If

you want,

the Virgin will come walking down the road

pregnant with the holy,

and say

“I need shelter for the night, please take me inside your heart,

my time is close.”

Then, under the roof of your soul, you will witness the sublime

intimacy, the divine, the Christ

taking birth

forever,

as she grasps your hand for help, for each of us

is the midwife of God, each of us.

Yes there, under the dome of your being does creation

come into existence eternally, through your womb dear pilgrim—

the sacred womb of your soul,

as God grasps our arms for help; for each of us is

God’s beloved servant

never far.

If you want, the Virgin will come walking

down the street pregnant

with light and

sing…

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