Tag Archives: Mary

Birthing prayer

Broad-shouldered, muscly men walked faster.  One crossed to the other side of the unlit path to avoid me.  I’m not surprised.  I was a bit worried too.  I’d started involuntarily talking out loud to God, expressing my frustration and sense of isolation in aggressive, repetitive mantras.  Appealing desperately to an invisible audience with my hands, using plenty of colourful language, I walked my regular prayer route.  And scared people.

I was never taught to pray like that, and either I am losing my mind (I’m not excluding the possibility) or I’m slowly learning what real prayer is.  Like the inexplicable ravings of someone with mental illness.

What I was saying?  I can’t tell you the words… You’d be shocked.  But about the difficulty of birthing the new thing God is doing.  And the possibility he’s not doing anything new, and I’m just deluded.  Speaking about something others can’t see.  That’s the definition of deluded, right?

Raving like a woman in labour.  Swearing like a woman in pain, trying to get through this moment.  But missing something to push against.

I met Richard, who stopped for a chat….  We talked about Christmas, and we considered Mary, who when she said ‘Yes’ to be mother of God’s child, didn’t know most of her support systems, everything that was familiar and reassuring, would be withdrawn.  She didn’t know she’d be pregnant and in labour in circumstances that would challenge her physical, emotional and spiritual strength to the limit.  She didn’t know she’d be compelled to carry out her task on very thin resources, pretty much on her own, without a script or a map.

And so it is, I suppose, with all the new things God does.  The invisible and unknown have few fans.  God doesn’t do a big media launch for his fresh initiatives with a prior press release sharing the aims of the new strategy. He gives hints and intimations of the possible for ordinary, hidden people to bring to birth.  In unprivileged circumstances.

And it’s hard.  Resources are thin.  The pregnant are tested to the limit of their physical, emotional and spiritual strength.  If you’re pregnant you need people who resist you, perhaps, to push against, to get the baby out.  And you need to swear, to scream, to yell at the God who’s put you in this situation and apparently left you to get on with it.

 

Mary’s mum finds out she’s pregnant

Mary and her Mum Christmas 2013

Quick-and-easy (although best if well-rehearsed) sketch on newness and change for your Christmas service picking up Messianic prophecies…  Aftertones of weepy mother-daughter bonding sessions.  Goes well with the annunciation reading…

A: Mary….

B: What? (Muffled, sounds as if she has been crying)

A: I’m sorry I lost my temper. I shouldn’t have shouted.

B: indistinguishable noise – someone trying to say something, but too weepy to control voice.

A: I just… (long pause)…. Well, it’s just so unbelievable. It’s …not the sort of thing that happens.

B: (sniffing) Do you think I don’t know that?! I didn’t ask for it. It’s not something I want. (in a small voice) But it is something He wants. And it was so beautiful, what he said. I told you.

A: I don’t know how we’re going to tell your cousin. She and Zechariah’ve been trying for years and no baby. How we explain you falling pregnant…. I don’t understand why the Lord would give you a baby you don’t want before you’ve been with a man, but can’t give her a child when she’s decently married and so desperate to be a mum. Mind you, if she had a daughter like you she’d have her work cut out…

B: That’s not fair! When have I ever been in trouble before?!

A: Mary, why? Tell me what – the man…

B: …the messenger…

A: What the strange man said.

B: Mum, I’ve told you what he said. But I’ve been thinking… about some of the prophecies… ‘A virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son and call him Emmanuel.’ I’m a virgin….. Mum, no, really, I know it’s hard to believe, but I swear to you… I am!

And there’s another one…. ‘a root shall come forth from Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of its shoots, and the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him’. We’re descended from Jesse, aren’t we? And from King David? Couldn’t it be possible? Possible this baby is God’s anointed one? Inside me?

A: I don’t know, Mary. I really don’t know…. I’ve been thinking about when I was pregnant with you. Your dad and I were so excited. We’d been together for a while, and things had settled into a pattern. We were ready for something new… Ready for a new phase of life. And we waited quite a long time before you came along, and didn’t dare imagine what it’d be like when you did. But once I was expecting, we were always imagining the future. Seeing you for the first time, holding you, feeding you… watching your dad teach you to walk, your first words… first friends, the games you liked playing… You weren’t even there and we were so full of hope for the future. And life seemed full of promise and possibility.

B: Are you going to tell me I’ve let you down? Because I can’t bear it.

A: … (slowly, thoughtfully) … No, no… I suppose I’m just thinking about the other stories in the Scriptures… all the baby stories. Moses was rescued from the Nile, Isaac was born when Abraham and Sarah were nearly dead, Samuel was born to barren Hannah when she did a deal with God… Somehow they all brought in a new era for the people of Israel. So it makes sense the Messiah might have an unusual birth. Tho’ I can’t say I’d ever have imagined anything like this!!! And with my daughter!

B: So you believe me? It’s important you believe me. I expect everyone else to think the worst, but I don’t think I can do this on my own.

A: You won’t have to, my love…. God will be with you. And I will. But it won’t be easy. When you’re pregnant, everything changes. Your body, family, your relationship with your husband. You have to make room for the newborn – not just in your house or in your belly, in your marriage too. It won’t be easy. Specially under the circumstances. But then, change never is.

B: But this is God’s change. This is God fulfilling his promise to his people. Surely we can make room for God, for the new thing he’s doing. My baby is a new life, and he’ll bring everyone a future full of hope. The messenger told me not to be frightened, because God is with me. We just need to trust and believe that what happens is for our good. Whatever it is….
And by the way…

A: What?

B: The messenger said something else. A secret. About Elizabeth.

A: What? Tell me!

B: (Teasing) You won’t believe me…

A: I will! What is it? Is it…. Not another miracle baby?!… Mary!!! Please! Don’t be so mean…

B: She’s going to have a boy. She’s 6 months gone. Because nothing is impossible for God!!!

A: I don’t believe it. I really don’t believe it… It’s all too much (starts to weep)

B: That’s how I felt when the messenger left. Full of joy and totally wiped out!… Come on, have a hug. God thought so highly of you you’re going to be his grandma!!!! Now that should really make you cry!