Labor and New Life | Sojourners

Labor and New Life

The following is taken from a sermon drawing from 2 Corinthians 4:1-15 and preached on June 13, 1982.

In chapter four of the second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul describes a tremendous struggle of faith. I have often reflected over the years how his words have taken on more meaning as we have attempted to bring to birth a community of faith. It's very hard work, and it often feels like a kind of dying.

The pain of this birth struggle is felt emotionally, many times spiritually, and sometimes even physically. But the events of this weekend have made Paul's words more vivid for me than they have ever been before.

Jackie's contractions began early Friday morning. Her husband, Bob, came down to the basement apartment I have in their house to give me the news. My bag was packed, ready to leave for New York where I was to participate in the religious convocation being held in preparation for the peace march and rally there the next day. I unpacked my bag and stayed home.

The waiting began.

Julie, one of the midwives and a longtime friend, came about four o'clock in the afternoon. We all sat out on the porch together. A great feast of fried chicken was prepared next door. It was funny to note how as soon as the labor began, everyone rushed home to make food: chicken, brownies, and pie. We were well fed throughout the entire event.

In the early evening, Jackie went upstairs to stay. It was the beginning of a very long and hard night.

Community people began to come and gather in the living room downstairs. Together we kept the vigil that would continue through the birth.

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