Skip to content


2009 December 20
by Julie Clawson

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2009

Births aren’t generally unexpected.  I mean, you kinda know they are coming.  But that doesn’t mean that you won’t be in the early stages of labor and not wonder if you still have time to rethink the whole thing.  Birthing is hard, it’s messy, and it doesn’t always go a planned.

I think of Mary, unexpectedly pregnant, having to face the scorn of her culture – a taint she and her son would have to carry through life.  Then she is forced to travel to Bethlehem, “now obviously pregnant,” as some translations put it.  She was anticipating a birth, a special birth, but I have to wonder if even so it took her by surprise.  Was she at term?  Or did the long journey send her into preterm labor, forcing a child into the world before anyone was ready for it?  Having two children born prematurely, I understand how even something anticipated and desired can still unexpectedly alter one’s world.

I think we often in the church have to face these unexpected births.  When we are pregnant with ideas or passions or a call, we have to see it through.  As much as we want to live in denial that there is new life growing within us, that life is going to emerge whether we are ready or not.  That baby’s coming out.  And it’s guaranteed to be messy.  It’s guaranteed to be painful.  And sometimes it may even come early.  Difficult journeys strain the body to the point that new life has to be birthed in order for both the mother and the child to survive.  It’s sudden sometimes. And it’s scary.  But it’s still a beautiful child.

Mary willingly birthed the messiah – the one she knew would bring rulers down from their thrones and lift up the humble.  And she did it without the support of family, with a strange midwife at her side, and a dingy manger to lay the child in as her broken and bleeding body was tended to.  Was this what she envisioned as she sung the Magnificat? Will generations call her blessed for this?  Or do we forget the pain, and the mess, and the unexpected in our vain attempts to sanitize the way God worked in history?

Are we willing to let God birth new life?


2 Responses leave one →
  1. December 21, 2009

    You always give mew something to think about! Thank you. Having had five births–three at home one of which was breech, all but the first overdue I truly resonate with what you are saying. I have a difficult time thinking God would intentionally birth something in us too early, however. And maybe it’s just semantics but I think our not being ready for what He births in us and it actually being too early are different. I guess none of that has much to do with our willingness to be available.

  2. December 22, 2009

    Hey! We are both members on RevGalBlogPals. Who knew …

    So sorry for your loss last week. My husband and I are thinking of you and your whole faith community.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS