I hope one day to hear a woman preach about John chapter 3. If you were in Sunday school the same time I was you remember the felt board regardless of denomination, the dark sky flap and maybe the moon stuck up on the board to signify the darkness Nicodemus hid under when he went to go talk to Jesus. It is then that Jesus tells Nicodemus he must be born again.
I would like, one day, to hear a sermon about being born again from a woman who has participated in the birthing process from the mothers end. So many women I know feel as though they were also re-born in the midst of birthing their children. Birthing is a powerful thing.
I have heard a very many amount of pastors who have preached on John chapter 3, but they always seem to gloss over how deeply uncomfortable birthing is. I don’t just mean the labor pains. All other animals are born when they are ready, when they can function well and survive okay, they still need their moms but most baby animals are more developed than a human baby. (God bless the elephant mother, they gestate for almost two years.) Human babies are born when they run out of room. There just isn’t enough room for a baby to gestate the four trimesters doctors have decided would be ideal.
The discomfort is on both ends. The last weeks of pregnancy are impossibly hard. I am learning in this life that I was born again when I accepted Jesus into my heart in the mint green room, being lead down the Roman road by the pastor’s wife, but that I am also always being born again.
Most often, it is the discomfort that finally makes me move on. When I grow out of space and simply cannot abide being stuck any longer, it is then that the forces seemingly beyond my control, move me to be born again. I am learning to embrace the discomfort, to take it for what it is, a warning that the time is coming to be born again.
And I have never heard a sermon on John 3 that speaks of the waiting. Of the way that you just have to let the first contractions come, how you need to go on about your day, take a walk, or a nap. How the contractions at the beginning don’t mean you need to do anything but notice. That you need to rest because something is going to happen and you need to be ready, but that you don’t need to rush to the hospital or tell everyone on Facebook, that it is only a time of noticing that something is beginning. Maybe.
I long to hear a sermon, about being born again, that articulates the strange and sometimes terrifying sensations that is transition. I want someone to mention the way your body finally gets used to one kind of contraction, one kind of pain, and while intense and difficult, you know how to cope and then this whole other thing is thrown your way. I want to hear the stories, from the pulpit, of the women who decide in that moment of transition that they are NOT having this baby, they would like to stand up, or sit down, or go home, or quit. How none of those things are really a choice but they all feel reasonable. I want to hear the stories of how you need to be talked down by your midwife or your husband, that this bizarre sensation is simply a marker that the next phase is on its way.
I wish that someone would mention, when speaking of being born again, about the numerous ways a baby can be born, c-section, epidural, water births, how each of these needs to be honored, all paths to spiritual re-birth are still about new life even if the circumstances aren’t ideal. I want someone to preach about how we can only really know our own stories, that traumatic births can happen in the physical and the spiritual, how the re-birth is still valuable even if it doesn’t go how you planned.
I appreciate the sermons I have heard on John 3, I just long to hear a sermon on re-birth by someone who knows what it feels like.
Exactly! Your writing is is the same vein as that of Sue Monk Kidd in her book Dance of the Dissident Daughter, where she writes how a woman really does belong at the altar offering up the Eucharist, because who better knows about nourishing lives but women, who do so in body for their babies and in kitchens for their families (not to be too stereotypical). We are blessed to be able to experience a taste of God’s creation in our own growing of lives, under and in our own hearts.
I havent read that but YES breast feeding as eucharist makes so much sense.
Oh wow, I love everything here. I need to remember this the next time I’m about to berate myself for being so slow to get it together as a Christian (especially as a well-disciplined one… which I am still trying to manage). That discomfort, that waiting, that slowness – they’re all part of the process. God knows that about humanity in general and about me in particular. Maybe the next time it’s my turn to preach, I’ll tackle John 3. I’ll definitely give you credit. 🙂
It is so clear that the physical life is meant to mirror the spiritual. In John 3 and so many other places. I am glad you do not hesitate to probe the depth of what the physical has to teach us.
I would love love love to hear it.
Wow. I love this. I love babies and birthing and pregnancy and you and Jesus so how could I not!! So how long has this post been gestating? Seriously good.
About three months. How did you know?
Abby, this is so good. I’ve never borne children, but I can so relate to the analogy of being pushed to birth by discomfort. The struggle is real!
I think you are that woman, and you are preaching right here.
Abby, you’re KILLING it lately. I think summer agrees with you. And all the yes to this. The wonder, the pain, the mystery, the fear, the powerlessness and the power, what does that birth look like in spirit – I think we’re living it out here in the mess.
PS: I’m pretty sure it’s not one moment at a youth group altar call and done.