Thursday, February 25, 2010
i will spare anyone reading this any laments or apologies for not writing the past 9 months or so...as you can see from the picture above, i've been busy.
for six months i have had this precious one growing inside of me. she sapped all of my energy the first three months as she began to grow, but as of late she just makes me very hungry and kicks a lot.
below is something that i shared with the wesley conference crowd at NNU a couple of weeks ago. it was a wonderful trip mostly because the speakers and seminars were complimented perfectly with time with my wonderful nampa family.
Originally presented in devotional form to the
2010 NNU WESLEY CONFERENCE
By Rev. Bethany Hull Somers
My congregation and I are about to embark on new territory for all of us. I am their senior pastor and I am 5 months pregnant. It is a pretty amazing thing to me to be pregnant and be a pastor and to hear my parishioners call me, “momma.” They are so excited because not only is their pastor going to have a baby but their pastor is really going to give birth to the baby herself!! It is unusual, but they think it is the coolest thing ever, and so do I.
Being pregnant has made me a lot more aware of things than I was before. I am more aware because I am thinking constantly of this little life that has invaded me and is growing inside me and will use my life for hers until it is time for her to get her first taste of air. I think of her almost every moment. I think of her with every decision I make. Suddenly, when I am walking my dog and a large truck drives by and spews toxic fumes into the air where before I might just be slightly annoyed, now I think, I wonder how this is affecting my baby girl. When I sit down to eat dinner I focus more on the greens and less on the cheese sauce and onion rings because it will help her grow – despite how much I love cheese sauce and onion rings. When I am tired, I rest…which is something I hardly ever do for myself. But for her – I do it…if I’m tired, maybe she’s tired. I realize at just five and a half months pregnant that I would do anything for this little girl. I would eat anything; I would go through anything – even experiencing firsthand the curse of Eve and the subsequent sleepless nights of babydom. I would, without even thinking about it, die for her and I haven’t even held her in my arms yet.
As I have reflected about the experience of another being inhabiting my body I could not help but start to think about it theologically – I am a pastor after all and that is what we do. We draw connections between experience and God constantly looking for the Spirit in the world. As I have meditated on the fact of this life growing inside me, I have been thinking about the concept of Theotokos – the God bearer. Originally this Greek term was used to describe the most famous pregnant woman ever – Mary! She was ultimately and literally God bearer as she carried the Messiah into the world. But later, it has been used by Christian theologians as a way to describe the Christian work and experience of bearing God into the situations and circumstances of everyday life. It describes the act of birthing the Kingdom through the love and hope of Christ with the power of the Holy Spirit. It became a way to describe not just Mary, but all disciples of Christ. Indicating the glorious opportunity we have to allow Christ to inhabit us.
As I thought about being a Theotokos I started to realize how little I normally think about being that for God in the circumstances in my life. I realized the stark contrast between how much I think about my baby girl – when I eat, when I sleep (I have dreams about her), when I wake, when I preach, when I sit down and my back hurts and when I rise up and my back hurts and so many moments in between. I must confess, I do not think of Jesus as often. And yet my job as God bearer to all whom I come in contact with has been in play for far longer than five months and far after my little girl grows up and has children of her own, I will still have Christ in me.
So I began to wonder and many good things come from wondering. I began to wonder, what if we, as Christians, thought about God as much as women who are pregnant think of the lives that are growing inside them. What if we thought about Him when we sat to eat, when we woke in the morning, what if we dreamed dreams about the Kingdom, what if we thought of God when we made every decision - from what to eat and how to consume given our place in the world and in the grand scheme of God’s justice and to where to walk – in the comfortable, sterile neighborhoods, or the out of the way places where the hurting go to hide. What if for as long as we had days to live and breath to taste, we took as seriously this job of God bearer as I do being pregnant with this little girl?
The amazing thing about being a God bearer is that although the first one was a woman, you do not have to be a woman to bear Christ into the world. Although we ladies get all the “fun” of morning sickness, warping bodies, kicks to the ribs in the middle of the night, and the final terrifying culmination of gestation, men can participate in the bearing of life in their role as theotokos. Each of us – male or female - can be thoughtful to the life of Christ in us – which as Colossians 1 proclaims is the hope of glory! My prayer for us as a church is that we do each thing with the conscious thought of Christ in us. My hope is that when we make our decisions about where to go, what to do, what to say, and how to love based on this fact of God in us.
I am so thankful to be a part of a denomination that is so pregnant with the LOVE of God and imagine how it will infect a hurting and dying world with the hope of glory. With Jesus Christ, God with us, in us, for us. Hear now these words about YOU from the book of Colossians, chapter one verses 25-27:
5I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.