God-fearing midwives, and humility.

While I was at church between services today, a fellow parishioner, George, came with his little truck and removed all the palm branches from yesterday’s feast. Now we have this icon of Christ, “Extreme Humility,” lavishly adorned in the middle of the church:

Icon Reader shares an explanatory quote about the icon:

“At the arrival of unjust persecution, bow your head. At the jeers of false accusations, cross your arms over your heart, whether physically or interiorly, and gratefully receive what is spitefully offered. And when faced with the question, ‘How far, how far do I tolerate this shame, this injustice,’ remember that the answer is the grave. This is what the icon labels ‘Extreme Humility,’ and it is humility that we must strive to emulate each day.”

-Hieromonk Irenaeus

One of the Old Testament readings for this day is from the first chapter of Exodus, the story of how, generations after Joseph, the Israelites as a people group grew large and strong, and the current Pharaoh began to feel threatened and to oppress them. Here is one little story within that story:

“And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

“And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

“And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.”

5 thoughts on “God-fearing midwives, and humility.

  1. I like the expression “men children”. It reminds us that God has a plan and a future for each of us. May we have the courage of the Hebrew midwives to do what’s right in God’s eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have often been confused by the tradition of surrounding such serious sacred images with a joyous and (for my limited background) lavish displays. I am strangely uncomfortable when approaching certain icons in church because of my expectation that I should focus on the elements of the icon itself. That probably shows that haven’t yet grown into the tradition. A post like this, outside of the context of the sacred space of a church and praying community, helps me address that little problem of mine. especially as you are able to integrate such an image with the one of the truck and the humdrum tasks before and after a very profound event and — for some– intimate yet communal experience. I learning though, and grateful for your messages, Gretchen.

    Liked by 1 person

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