16 September 2013
Yesterday, I read Psalm 111:1-2, which says, “Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” I knew it was the day to go to the Catholic church of Atiak. So, since our birth center truck is defunct, I took a thirty-five minute walk with my sister-midwife, Sarah, and arrived just after the service had started.
I’m so glad I went! The service was in Acholi, and so I could only understand certain key words (Rwot, which means “God,” Lubango, which means “Lord,” and Jesu Crist), but aspects of the liturgy were familiar, so I knew generally where we were in the order of things. The singing was absolutely beautiful, and Acholi girls processed in and out, dancing, at the beginning and end of service and when the Holy Scriptures were brought to the front of the church and the gospel was read. The priests wore white and green, because we are in Ordinary Time according to the Church calendar, and green is the color of this season: a color and a season of life.
I was so happy to be in church on Sunday, not only because I was together with other people of faith, but because it was the day of christening! About forty newborns and infants were blessed and baptized in water with their mothers and grandmothers and other relatives holding them for the priest to dedicate in the sanctuary. At least two of them, both girls, were ones who had been born at our birth center. I was so delighted to see these mothers and babies!
I was reminded of the first infant baptism I attended for a baby whose birth I had attended, that of William Edward, the son of Kristin and Mark Frost, at All Saints’ Church in Chicagoland. (I hope you’re reading this, Kristin!) It was a wonderful time for me when I felt like a community midwife. Being a midwife is more than catching babies physically as they are born; I believe being a community midwife means participating in the spiritual lives of families after birth and praying that they will be born again of water and the Holy Spirit.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit,
he cannot enter the kingdom of God …
Do not marvel that I said to you,
‘You must be born again!’”
~ Jesus (John 3: 5,7)
It means so much to me to see babies dedicated to the Lord.