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Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Emerging from the Womb
This is part one of a series of posts exploring the metaphors of birth, growth, death and resurrection in Emerging spirituality.

Birth is not easy. But it is natural, because what is gestating cannot remain hidden inside any longer. The space has become too small, the child too large. The creation must be released into the world. Birth is not easy, but it is natural. Fear and fighting, trying to escape the labor pains -- these only slow the birth. But faith -- faith that the pain is producing a passage way for Emergence, this is what lets us breath into the fear and inch toward accepting each contraction as a harbinger of birth.

Emerging faith is not easy. But it is natural, because we know somehow these questions and yearnings, this need to birth Truth and Grace that has become too small for check boxes, has gestated long enough! Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Our passage to freedom must be opened, and this means labor pains. And with each contraction, facing our worst fears that we will die giving birth, or that our child, this mustard seed of unconventional Grace will be stillborn or sickly. Facing our fears that we won't know how to raise this child to maturity, or that being parents of a new creation, we will lose ourselves in the process. Was Jesus talking to us when he said, "Lose your life to find your life?" Jesus is speaking to us today, in gentle, soothing tones, reassuring us he will never leave or forake us. And we breathe through each contraction, trusting that someday, with one final push, that crowning head will emerge -- perhaps a little coneshaped, but perfect. Whole and Beautiful, a gift we are entrusted to nurture until she is ready to meet the world and make her mark.


posted by Jemila Kwon at 7:32 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 10/24/2006 09:42:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    thank you so much for that metaphor. the process of emerging into what has to naturally happen in your life is a difficult and frightening experience. Your post reminded me of two things -
    The poem Spelling by Margaret Atwood and women needing to birth the thoughts that dwell inside them.
    And a summary of Brian McLaren's 7 Layers of Emergent

  • At 10/24/2006 04:06:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Very encouraging! Beautiful discription. Thanks.

  • At 10/25/2006 07:37:00 AM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Julie, I really liked the 7 layers of Emergent. Do you think it stops there though? I suspect there is at least an eighth layer; perhaps an integration of personal spirituality with neighbor-loving, enemy-loving and concern for social justice.

    Michele, your comment was a blessing to me. Thank you.

  • At 10/25/2006 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Michelle K

    Oh ladies, this poast rings true to how I feel at the moment. I feel my head is going to explode with all of the "what if God really meant..... " that is going around my house. I'm so afraid that while we do need to make some changes in our doctrinal beliefs that what will emerge will not reflect the true character of God -- not only gracious and merciful but also very solid on what is truth. It's hard to explain.

    Mompriest - if you're out there, may I please have your email address? I do have some questions regarding the Episcopal faith as that's the latest group that my husband has been looking in to.

  • At 10/25/2006 09:20:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Michelle K,
    I know exactly how you're feeling. My head has been exploding for the past few months. My problem is that I "have to depend" on others opinions of theology etc. It is not my area of expertise to just pick up the Bible and "know" what was meant. I will say however, that I have encountered very different opinions and ideas. In that, very Faithful, believing people. I am just convinced at this point that God did not intend the "smart, intellectuals" to be the only people who "get it". Didn't Jesus say that the some of the least expected will encounter the kingdom first? (paraphase)What has happened, is my Faith is stronger than ever. God knows my struggles. I have cried out many times. I depend on God way more than when I "had the answers". I just don't feel at this point that our Loving God, will tell me when I die "You were soooo close, but sorry you missed this one point!" So, Michelle know that many of us are feeling this too!

  • At 10/25/2006 09:35:00 AM, Blogger Michelle K

    Michelle L,

    Thank you for your encouragement.
    Here's what it boils down to for me I think -- if there are so many "well..that's not what they meant in the original context" etc answers out there...well.... basically how you said it, "you were sooo close but you didn't get it". If it's that stinking hard to sort through then how is that fair and available to all who seek?

    My husband is way more scholarly minded than I am. He's basically exhausting me.

    The thing that rises to the top right now is the whole debate of homosexuality being accepted/condoned, etc.

    Here's the circle that goes around:
    "The Bible said in the NT that homoesexuality is a sin".
    Retort: "Yes but they meant a different root word that actually was a different type of behavior than a loving, monogomous relationship"

    "Yes, but the scripture says that so if it's so hard to interpret it must not be very helpful, therefore I believe that it says the way it says it."
    Retort: "Ok,... then it also says that women shouldn't speak in church nor cut their hair"

    "well, yeah but that was a cultural thing that doesn't apply today".
    Retort: "then so is the homosexual issue as well"

    AUGH. I just can't keep it straight!


  • At 10/25/2006 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Julie

    For me personally opening my eyes to the various interpretations and cultural contexts of scripture has strengthened my faith. Once I got beyond the resistence I had grown up with that taught me that there is only one way to read the bible I felt free to grow. I am discovering new things and the bible is making way more sese to me than it ever has before (even when it challenges my cultural assumptions about stuff like homosexuality). Admitting that the basic translations I read are themselves interpretations influenced by the various camps and doctrines of the men (almost always men) who interpreted them made me realize that by seeking other interpretations I am not ignoring or throwing out scripture or reading it to suit my own needs...

    that being said, Michele K. I agree that what will emerge will not reflect the true nature of God. No theology or doctrine that we create out of our interpretation of scripture ever will. It is all filtered through our lenses and is itself an approximation of God. We can never understand God because we and our language is finite, ad ZGod is well, infinite. But within our cultures we can do our best to understand God, the bible, and our faith in the best ways we can understand.

    and I fully believe that our doctrine has very little to do with our salvation. It affects how we love God and others and how we live out Christ's values in the Kingdom. but as I mentioned in another thread - I don't think that intellectual assent to a certain set of manmade propositions about the faith has anything to do with our salvation. so missing a point (or many) isn't a worry to me. that doesn't mean I give up or don't care - it just gives me the freedom to have a relationship with God. Its like getting to write a paper on a subject because I like it and want to learn more instead of having to worry about something stupid like a grade.

    just some thoughts...

  • At 10/25/2006 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Michelle K


    I hear what you're saying and agree with being freed up just to have a relationship with Christ. What I'm torn over, though, is how to determine what group (manmade doctrine again) to associate with because of all of the different opinions and interpretations.

    I don't agree fully with the fundamentals anymore. I have at least grown beyond that. But I'm not ok with many of the more liberal points of view either.


  • At 10/25/2006 03:46:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    "God knows my struggles. I have cried out many times. I depend on God way more than when I "had the answers". I just don't feel at this point that our Loving God, will tell me when I die "You were soooo close, but sorry you missed this one point!" So, Michelle know that many of us are feeling this too!"

    Julie, I love this! I resonate so strongly.

  • At 10/25/2006 06:36:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Michelle - I fully understand. I'm part of a denomination right now, but I don't feel at home there. In fact I've become very dissallusioned with the whole concept of denominations and doctrinal statements. I guess I am a lot more "liberal" than I used to be, but I still get labeld conservative by others. Its funny how that works. I've joined the emerging conversation because it resonates with where I am at. I like its questios and its discussions. There is room to grow in it - to be wrong, to be in process, to consider fresh perspectives. I need that right now.

  • At 10/25/2006 06:51:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    Jemila - interesting thought about the 8th layer. How do you see things like neighbor-loving (etc) as different than personal spirituality?

  • At 10/25/2006 06:59:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    I think there is an aspect of our relationship with God that is private and intimate, an aspect that reaches out with that overflow into the world.

    Romantic Analogy:

    Personal spirituality=lovemaking, secret wrestling, fighting, trusting, distrusting, dancing, inside jokes

    Public spirituality=being refueled, having a sense of connection, belovedness and hard-won trust through the scary drought times and the fights and the rediscovery of faith, and out of those deep roots, caring for others, caring for the earth, creating a better society.

    Personal spirituality is the "why" of public spirituality. Anyone can work for social justice, but without love, it is nothing. When done in love, as a vessel of God's divine love, it is worshiping in spirit and in truth, loving God with our actions.

  • At 10/25/2006 10:22:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Clarification: I don't think social justice work done by people who are not overtly spiritual is worthless...as a matter of fact, if it's done in love, I think they are being a vessel of the divine whether they know it or not. However, for the Christian, our work in the world should be a conscious extension of our love for God and one another. We learn to love God from loving another person, and we learn to love others more unconditionally by engaging with God's love.

  • At 10/27/2006 08:09:00 AM, Blogger Nancy

    The "exploding head" seems to be epidemic at the moment. I can't quite read or discuss or think enough and get through it all fast enough to satisfy myself. In my heart, I am certain God has led me to a transition time here and in typical form, I am impatient and want to hurry the process. Mostly because of the excitement but probably also because of the tendency to avoid ambiguity and its inherent discomforts. Thanks to each of you for sharing your own thoughts and wrestlings. The emerging conversation is fresh and vital and Julie, what a great point...we won't end up with "the" understanding of God even when all is said and done. If God has set things up that way, then we just have to accept it while continuing to nurture our relationship with the Creator. God IS mysterious and we live the essence of it.

  • At 10/30/2006 11:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I've just wandered in here because I'm in that sort of labor myself..I feel more like I'm trapped in a concrete suit of patriarchal armor, though, chip, chip, chipping away, and what I'll be when I get out is anyone's guess right now.

    Jemila, I wish I hadn't blasted in here with my living wage deal. I know a lot of people would disagree with me, and that's fine. I wish I had let you all get to *know* me first, because I'm much more of a discusser than a debater. I'm fascinated by others' viewpoints.

    And from your profile, this: an America where "Bush" refers to pleasant, chubby green shrubs. cracked me up.


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