NOW THE BIRTH OF JESUS TOOK PLACE IN THIS WAY By David R. Weiss, WTS MA graduate

Written in Feminist Theology Class, 1994. As a man he simply asked women, “What is it like to give birth?”

Fourteen and frightened
“Behold, a young woman shall conceive”
Mary, handmaid of the Lord
More than a youth
But hardly a woman
“Overshadowed by the power of the Most high”
Shaking her head in disbelief but not in doubt
Me?
“Then let it be according to your word”
For months the constant awareness
The tethering of two lives, one to the other
The mystery within
Growing, stretching, becoming
The simply and wondrous inevitability
A child is going to be born
“Blessed are you, and blessed
is the fruit of your womb”
At meals, in her eating and drinking
Thinking to herself
And smiling quietly at the miracle
Here, child, this is my body
This is my blood
Be nourished and grow strong
“And of his kingdom there will be not end”
Weary and hot
Sweat glistening on her young brow
Eyes squinting against the sun
And her belly a burden never set down
“And they went up from Nazareth unto Bethlehem”
Slow and steady over the donkey’s feet beneath her
Quick and anxious moved the child’s feet within
Counting the days
Trudging from inn to inn
Tired and impatient
Angelic visits only a dim memory
“And the time came for her to be delivered”
At last a stable
Only a stable
At least a stable
With coarse straw, and just in time
“On that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth”
Water breaking, gushing endlessly, endlessly!
Parting that the child might cross
A shiver
Counting the minutes
“And she gave birth”
Fifteen now, still frightened
Her whole world absorbed into contractions
Muscles wave-like setting the rhythm of birth
The whole season of Advent
Painfully compressed into hours
Spine-tingling anticipation, excitement
“In the beginning”
This is it, child
There’s no more turning back
Sweat glistening on her brow again
Chilled in the night air
Eyes opened wide, seeing little and pushing
“In pain you shall bring forth children”
And pushing
Laboring, breathing, straining
Salvation is hard work
And pushing
Fingers clenched, then stretched
And clenched again
The pressure of Advent
Between her legs, painful
And pushing
“as the mountains were brought forth”
Gasping to herself, and vomiting
So this is the majesty of creation!
And pushing
All thought of the child, any child
Buried in the pain
Eyes opened more than wide, peering into darkness
And exhaustion
Please can I stop?
But there is no more turning back
Only pushing
And prayers uttered in gasping breaths
And pain
“All creation groaning in travail”
And Mary pushing, aching
Praying
Must I die Lord?
In order to save your people must I die?!
“Not my will, but thine”
And more pushing
Eyes staring wildly into pure darkness
And pain
Hair stringy with sweat
And pushing
Oh, God, still pushing
And screaming
Fingers stretching to nowhere
And a head
At last a head
In the darkness, a child’s head
“Glory to God in the highest”
And renewed pushing
Then a body, a child’s body
Comes forth like a rushing wave
Wet and bloody and struggling
Already impatient with this world
Panting in aching exhilaration
Eyes closed but seeing so much more than dark
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”
A new life, no longer within, untethered
Sensing that now
I must share this child with the world
Mary, handmaid of the Lord
Soaked in sweat
Peacefully holding her child, the child
“And she wrapped him in swaddling clothes”
Rags, and yet priceless tonight
Watching the child, her child
In wonder
Checking every feature and detail
Marveling, so this is a baby!
My, oh my, so this is a baby!
How can the world ever be the same again?
Lifting the child gently to her breast
Tiny fingers touching a whole new world
A whole new world!
A tiny mouth gently tugging
At Mary’s nipple
“And you shall call his name
Immanuel
God is us”

David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist committed to doing “public theology” around issues of sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. In his work he seeks to use his gifts as a writer and poet to bring the strength of his academic training into fruitful conversation with the wider audiences of church and society. A graduate of Wartburg College, Wartburg Seminary, and the University of Notre Dame, he has taught religion and theology at the University of Notre Dame, Luther College, Augsburg College, St. Catherine University, and Hamline University. He is husband, parent and now, grandparent. He is the author of To the Tune of a Welcoming God (2008) and When God Was a Little Girl (2013)  Click here to go to David’s Blog

 

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