Pentecost 12 – August 27, 2017

Rev. Lyle McKenzie      Lutheran Church of the Cross of Victoria
Exodus 1:8-2:10 Psalm 124 Romans 12:1-8 Matthew 16:13-20

 

Let’s hear it for midwives! Hooray! Hip, hip hooray!

– Or should it be L’chaim! – “to life” or Hallelujah!,” since these are Hebrew midwives?

– Two of them are even named – Shiphrah and Puah, how amazing is that, named women…

– to Puah and Shiphrah –  to life! L-chaim! Hallelujah!

– Whatever way – we celebrate them, we give thanks for them for saving baby boys and girls and resisting the murderous ways of empire, for the sake of the babies and mothers and families, for God, and for all… to life! L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– I need to admit my own bias in this… since our daughter just graduated from midwifery and has begun practising in Campbell River… receiving her regular reports of births…

– thinking about the midwives we met at her graduation… quite the extraordinary group of women…

– in their pink ribboned hoods and red shoes… watching in the audience… the last group of UBC grads that morning… men in front of us, “I think they’re all wearing red shoes. Yes, they are!”

– not sure of the tradition, – our son, “they always have blood on their shoes… “

– many of them prior degrees, in nursing like our daughter, or massage therapy like a woman from Grace Lutheran, some more than one degree, masters degrees, a Law degree, a professional photographer, and more, 20 of them ranging from about 25 to about 55 years of age..

– clearly this was a vocation, a calling, for many/all of them…to assist women and babies and families in entering this world, safe and healthy, and in as natural a way as possible…

– it’s an ancient profession – maybe the oldest, rather than the other as some claim… to give life…

– not always recognized and accepted… but always there, formally or informally, still challenging today… over against what is established, accepted, not allowed… they continue to assist women in every circumstance, to provide for them in pregnancy and childbirth, …to life, L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– This all serves as “background” for the wonderful and amazing story of the birth of Moses – the midwives who courageously resist the Pharaoh’s command to kill baby boys because they love God and people, babies and mothers…

– and so Moses is born, not drowned in the Nile as commanded,

– and his equally courageous Mother hiding him as long as she can, coming up with her crazy scheme to float him in the river into the Pharaoh’s household, as his courageous sister keeps watch, and negotiates his care by his own Hebrew mother, under the Pharaoh’s own roof… the ironies are deliciously subversive, and all the women involved including the Pharaoh’s daughter have a knowing and risky part… and somehow we know, God – like a great midwife/creator, has a part in all of it… to life! L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– This is how God works… through the least, the low, the lost to bring about God’s holy plan to resist evil power, and oppression, and death, in every empire, for life… midwife for every baby, child of God, for the life of every-one!

– to life! L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– Isn’t this how God is working still? In the face of present empires, personal, national and corporate… some that demand the deaths of babies, and the least, the low, the lost…

– for profit, personal prosperity and protection…

– God resists, people resist, protest, work subversively, seek non-violence, stand for good over evil, for love over hate, for peace over war, for hope over fear, for life over death… joining God as midwives of the birth to life, for the health and safety and the thriving… of all God’s children.

– These “midwife” stories are happening in our time,

– often unseen, sometimes because of danger…

– often because they are not self serving, but serving of the least, the low, and the lost.

– They are happening through this community…

– often in partnership with neighbours and others…

– often through your lives and the lives of people you know…

– We need to continue often to support and encourage one another and others in this shared work of God’s for the health and safety and thriving of all God’s children…

– This is God’s deepest desire;

– this is our world’s hope; especially now, in the face of so much fear, real and created, this is the work of midwifery to which we are called to join God… now! – to life! L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– This what it means to be the church. The church that confesses Jesus as Messiah/Christ – God’s anointed, as Peter did and others with him, and countless others after, including us

– there is much that is said in this gospel reading, and there has been and continues to be much written and even debated about what it all means… but what it clearly does not mean is that Jesus is establishing a new empire;

– and it is our great sadness, and confession, that this is what the Church of Jesus the Christ, often became and becomes…

– not of and serving the least, low and lost…

– but of and serving the powerful, privileged, and polite… and costing the lives of God’s children… God forgive us.

– that can happen here and now…

– and requires our attention and intention…

– our confession and seeking of forgiveness…

– our listening to the least, low and lost, in our midst and in our neighbourhood and world…

– to stand together, to work together for the health and safety and birthing of a world and communities that are for the good of all… for God… – for life, L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– The good news is that Peter, despite his failings and denials, – through forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit…

– becomes a leader of Christ’s Church as Jesus promised…

– and his words, the confession of the whole Christian Church…

– and his calling to bind and let loose, to convict and to show mercy, will help to birth the church of God’s Holy Spirit, by God’s grace alone, through faith in Christ Jesus…

– and despite the failings of God’s people like Peter before, right up to our time and me and us… by that same grace we continue to confess Jesus as God’s own, and hear again our calling to join with others in God’s work as midwives for the health and safety of all God’s children – for life, L’chaim! Hallelujah!

– Sometimes our daughter calls and recounts a birth… particularly if there has been a concern, and the good news of a child born, safe and well… without even knowing them, this good news fills us with hope… to life, L’chaim! Hallelujah! Amen.