Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Church, God, Grace, Inspiration, Jesus, Prayer, Religion, Sermon, Spirituality
It was a foggy night in Bayou country when we loaded the Honda with our provisions and headed on the 25-mile journey from New Iberia to Lafayette, Louisiana. It was 25 miles of tension because my wife Carol’s water had broken and I was afraid that I would have to deliver the baby in the car. I had tried to pay attention in the Lamaze classes, but I knew that I was not ready for that sort of responsibility.
As we wove our way down the Bayou Teche and North toward the Cajun capital I was grateful that this baby was not coming on the due date. We could only imagine what the main hospital in Lafayette would have been like on Mardi gras, so having this occur a week early was just fine with us. I pulled into the emergency entrance and we checked in. Everything had been arranged in advance and within no time we were in a private room waiting.
I of course was a cool customer, right? No, I was the father and a mess. I set up a teapot and put some relaxing music on a CD player and commenced to pace the room. I was worried. How could I be a father? On a minister’s salaries how would we be able to raise a child? The world is so messed up what will my daughter’s future be? I obsessed and paced and chewed my fingernails while Carol remained perfectly calm. It was soothing to me to watch someone so cool and collected in the midst of pain. She even remained calm when one of her members snuck into the delivery room to pepper her with questions about how her church was going to afford her replacement that Sunday. During that entire 25 hours of labor she was incredible. In no time at all we were home with our new child Calla.
There is a lot of bonding that goes on in those first 6 weeks of parenthood. The first time the baby cries at 3 a.m. everyone jumps out of bed like the fire alarms have just gone off and there is a raging fire in the kitchen. Over time each parent wearily saunters to the basinet to make sure this child is comforted and fed. It was a few months into my introduction to this new child that I began hearing something else in the vicinity of our crying baby. It would last only a little while before both its sound and Calla went into deep silence. There in the deep darkness I could hear the sweet song, “Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calming and free.” Perhaps it was because it was so close to Pentecost that this song was chosen by my wife. Yet, it was perfect and perhaps the most beautiful song that I had ever heard. It was the loving song of a mother to calm and assure her daughter.
If you were to ask me of my many views of God that keep my faith this is certainly one of them. Naming rote attributes of a deity nor composing a careful apologetic to the divine’s existence, neither moves me. I am moved by the possibility of the imminently relational nature of something greater than myself. I have said here in the past that I see it when we help, cry, love, forgive and care for one another in this community. Yet, if you pressed me into making an anthropomorphic image of that divine spirit which I just described in my life it would be of a soft voice comforting and assuring a child through a beautiful song.
Now, that is an image of God that I can worship. Fortunately for me that view of the divine fits squarely in the Biblical tradition. There is clearly the image of a creator who groans in birth contractions, gathers, nourishes and protects like a loving mother. Of course God cannot merely be reduced to a particular gender. Nor do these gender stereotypes completely fit one gender. Yet, there is nothing more comforting to me than believing that the Spirit that is with me originates from the ultimate comforter.
So, the spirit is among us and she is ready to show us all care. You don’t even have to get along your mother to experience that type of nurturing. You don’t have to be a mother to understand the importance of feeling safe. You just have to do unto others, as you would want them to do unto you. The Spirit is able to do in us as a community what we were unable to do alone. Whatever image of the divine is most important to you this morning I hope that you are brought closer to your family, community and this community by the Spirit who can take the chaos of a leaders ascension, language barriers, theological differences and power struggles and turn them into everyone speaking in one voice. It is the voice of unity and love for one anoth
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