This week’s Lectionary contains the story of Shiphrah and Puah, the two Hebrew midwives who creatively and subversively thwarted the pharaoh’s plans to kill all the boy babies of the enslaved Hebrew nation. It’s an exciting tale of how two valiant midwives changed the course of their people’s history.
Having given birth a couple times in the company of midwives, I feel qualified to point out a thing or two about them: they know the value of patience, and they know when a situation is untenable and must have intervention. They know when to apply a walk and a snack, and when to apply forceps (or for that matter, a trip to the ER). They wait and watch and care. They pay attention.
God, You have saved us by many creative means
Over the years of humanity’s existence.
You’ve saved your people by means of trumpets and shouts,
by means of manna from heaven,
by means of water from rocks,
by means of the miraculous and the mundane.
And you’ve saved your people by means of valiant midwives.
Those women entrusted to usher the future into the world
In the midst of pain and travail,
With wisdom, experience, and alertness.
May we all be like the midwives,
Working in quiet devotion
Or in subversive creativity --
Those who care for those who carry,
Those who comfort and calm,
Those who shift breaches and unblock exits,
Those who urge us to PUSH when the time is right,
Those who know when to wait and when to cut,
Those who catch slippery bundles of goodness as they emerge,
Those who bind up wounds of effort.
May we have the vision of the midwives
Who could imagine a future beyond what they could see,
And were willing to risk their lives and reputations
To give it a chance to arrive.
We thank you for the Midwives,
For those who are as shrewd as serpents,
As innocent as doves (1),
Protecting the future as it is born.
(1) Matthew 10:16