Given that I’m male it’s a little audacious for me to talk about being pregnant. My closest experience has been living with my wife during her pregnancies with our three children—I certainly can’t claim any firsthand knowledge. Nevertheless, from those memories, I can characterize it as being filled with anticipation, of feeling awkward, and finally a desire to just have it end.
The first Advent season was a pregnant time. Both Mary and Elizabeth with expecting babies. Their husbands, Zechariah and Joseph were, we could say, a bit clueless. The women were much more aware of what was happening. But to be fair, their husbands eventually caught on and certainly supported their wives. It was all a bit awkward. New life was gestating. Tummies were getting big and it was a little hard to keep one’s balance. Things were moving, taking shape, growing. It involved so many hopes and dreams of what God was doing in their world.
This may sound a little sacrilegious but I like to think that God was pregnant. I know it’s a stretch to imagine God with a big extended tummy, walking awkwardly and slightly off balance. But isn’t that much better than imagining God as a stern judge in his chambers keeping track of our sins or as a fierce warrior on the battlefield slaying his enemies?
Speaking of God as a pregnant mother isn’t new. The prophet Isaiah spoke of God as being in labor bringing new life (44:14) and as a mother comforting her children (66:13). The medieval Christian mystic Julian of Norwich is known for her female images of God. Her words have been made into a poem by Jean Janzen and put to music by Janet Peachy. It’s now in our church hymnal, “Mothering God, you gave me birth in the bright morning of this world. Creator, source of every breath, you are my rain, my wind, my sun.”
Just as in the first century, our world is also pregnant and we wait in anticipation of the new life taking form in and among us. In this Advent season, we will want to be especially aware of some of the awkward, hopeful, pregnant possibilities in our personal lives, in our church, and in our world.