Birth: A Metaphor for the Process of Spiritual and Social Transformation
by Rebeca M. Radillo
Here is an insight into and a reflection upon a non-physical event crucial to becoming a mature spiritual and socially responsible human being. From the time of our birth, we are surrounded by cultural, political, philosophical, and religious forces. We tend to internalize our milieu and often become comfortable with the status quo. Our risk is to become complacent and self righteous if we fail to thrive in our own social and spiritual development.
Birth, Death, and Becoming Like God: Reflections on a New Testament Theme
by Michael J. Gorman
The incarnation and the atonement are like bookends in the Jesus-narrative, and each of them is also linked closely to Jesus’ life. Jesus became one of us to change peoples’ perspectives and expectations, and he did that throughout his ministry. It is precisely because of his actions that he was crucified as a threat to the religious and political status quo.
Birthing the True Self
by Karla M. Kincannon
A midwife tells mothers that there are three things they need to know about labor. “It’s hard work, it hurts a lot, and you can do it.” That’s good advice for those on the Christian journey. The birth of the true self into the world requires effort and openness to God’s grace. We each have a true self, a deeper identity that lives in the heart of God and is united to God in Christ.
by Lisa S. Kraske Cressman
In a lecture to new writers, Poet Mary Oliver stressed that getting published was not the author’s most important task; honing their craft was. She had not smelled, touched, or marveled enough at God’s wondrous creation to have something worthwhile to write until then. Preachers share roughly the same two tasks with poets: to marvel, and then to write. And to have marveled enough at God’s being and the divine gifts offered us is much more difficult than writing the sermon.
The Handless Maidens of the Old Testament: Birthing Narratives
by Amy Yeary Holmes
Most birthing narratives are embedded within a masculine journey which is external and involves leaving the ordinary and leaping into the unfamiliar, having adventures, over-coming obstacles, and returning as a hero. In contrast, the feminine journey is an internal journey of reflection, solitude, and self care. Often the chapters of the heroine’s life are seedbeds from which she draws energy and creativity when addressing a problem whose solution lies within the heroine’s being. Handless Maiden tales provide a path to uncover the intricacies of humanity’s feminine side.
Birthing of a Leader: Birthing Archetype in Judges 6–8
Gideon’s leadership traits are developed through a process analogous to physical birthing. The author makes a case for Acts 1-15 being an archetype of the physical birthing process, thus asserting that these New Testament texts symbolically describe how Christianity was born from Judaism.
Birthing: Patience and Fulfillment
by Christian Zebley
In our spiritual journey of knowing, trusting, and loving God, birth is experienced through the reception of faith, hope, and vision. During periods of waiting, we should avoid “pushing the process along.” We must learn to be led by the Holy Spirit and wait patiently for God’s timing, power, and provision for the birthing vision to be fulfilled.
Lectionary: Nov. 1, Year A 2014 through Jan. 31, Year B 2015
by Remington Slone
Whether or not a pastor follows the Lectionary, this perceptive commentary should prove valuable for preachers, seminary students, and lay readers seeking to expand their understanding of many Biblical passages from both Testaments.
Letter to Readers
by Jin Hee Han
This 2014 winter issue focuses on “birthing.” Our editorial team pored over titles that could capture our thrust for this Christmas issue. “Birthing” won the day for its unique capacity to link the solidity of a noun (“birth”) with the fluidity of a verb (“to give birth”). Modern linguists may frown upon an attempt to build a worldview—so tender and yet so firm—on a grammatical form; however, preachers may imagine a world in which life is both gift and giving.
Endurance: Legacy of the African-American Christian Experience
by Reginald Brantley
One of the great ironies of Christian history in America is that slave masters taught their black slaves a racialist form of Christianity, hoping to keep them docile, but instead the story of the Exodus taught them that the God who rescued the Hebrew slaves and brought them out of Egypt was their God of liberation. Men like Demark Vesey and Nat Turner preached a liberation theology that rescued America from its baser self.