Women at the Well Story

Content Warning: Abortion

On June 25th, 2022

The Supreme Court of the USA

Decided things, for women;

Abortion could be made illegal,

by any state that wished it.

***

It was then the stories spilled out

Unstoppered from the soul;

They were told because

someone had to hear them,

We were like Hagar,

naming the truth of the anguish

Telling the tales that some will deny

after we screamed by a the tree

from rage and anguish and lament.

***

The stories, bled out under the tree,

as we hugged one another;

Of illegal abortions at college,

When the friend almost bled out…

and these stories are not as my youngest says

from “Ancient times”–

of the sister whose ectopic pregnancy;

after she finally convinced the dr that she was indeed pregnant,

…that this life saving surgery that was administered mere weeks ago

was as of THIS moment illegal in some states.

Of the horrific and hard late term abortions,

that were tragic and still open wounds.

Of abortions that eased and affirmed lives,

because the individual had no means

to care for a a child at that moment.

Of friends and sisters and trans individuals who died

from lack of proper care.

***

We named how racism will kill so many women now.

Of the horrors of foster care and adoption,

and how that is a different conversation

to convolute with abortion.

Because White Supremacists want to control the wombs of all women, of all childbearing people though they deny they exist.

The grandmothers of our community, recalled the fight as it happened before.

Of moms who wanted to work, but were stuck with children instead.

Of no credit cards, no freedom, no divorce, no control.

***

We raged and we mourned and

like a miracle, we found ourselves by the well—women and childbearing people of all genders

and we were telling stories to you Jesus–

Not our husbands, because we said,

“Today Jesus, I have no husband”

and we said, we have no husband–

and Jesus you answered and said, that’s right.

You are your own self, dignified, in your own right.

Defined not by your husband, or your children,

with rights over your God-created, God-imagined, Godly and beautiful body.

Go and be blessed.

And so we will go, full of pain

And hope

and stories.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Don’t Give up, A Prayer

God

I am pretty mad at humans today

and Old White Men

and the powers that be

And the manipulators

Who thought one dollar more

was more important

than getting justice done

and the church

who put off

flipping tables

for another time and place

And I want to rage

and scream

and find the right punishment

for all of my enemies

except I don’t really know who my enemies are

just they they are out there

whispering nonsense about

pro-life and family first and great america

as they grind these things into dust

as they deal death

with additive drugs like “safety” “religion” and “whiteness”

And I feel like I’m going to throw up or pass out,

and my soul hurts with the magnitude of it all.

Is this when you run away into the desert? Jesus?

Or hop a boat into the ocean?

Or feed 5,000 people just for the hell of it?

Or invite yourself over to the tax collector’s house to dinner, just to piss everyone off?

Because at times like these I feel like if I don’t enact justice viscerally, I’m going to implode.

And then I have to remind myself I’m not Jesus, I cannot save the world.

So I beat my chest, scream a tree, write an angsty psalm, cry.

And maybe I retreat for one day instead of forty,

maybe I feed one person instead of 5,000

maybe I invite someone I’ve been meaning to over to dinner instead of a tax collector.

And I remind myself, it all counts.

Because all justice counts,

Because I’m not a Jesus or a superhero,

but at least I can do something,

and I’m not giving up.

Thanks for reminding us not to give up God.

Amen.

Feel free to adapt/use/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Abortion, A prayer

When the red blood stops

And your heart catches in my throat God,

because you know its not the Son of God

In my Womb,

and its not a permissible time.

Be with me–

The Woman who

Makes the Life Giving Choice

Not to be a Mother

At Such a Time as this.

Organize us in all the ways needed

To support that choice

So my blood may flow again

Because you know Jesus–

That I am fertile is in other ways

and called to other things.

And you affirm that authenticity

and bless that.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Anti-Mother’s Day Prayer

This is a prayer for the ones aren’t mothers

The ones who claimed their bodies

and said, not right now,

or no,

Or whose babies couldn’t,

wouldn’t be–and so they wept a thousand tears, and said goodbye

before they had an abortion.

Here’s a prayer for those for whom the decision was quick,

and definite, because there was no time for anything else–and no room for any other decision to be made. And you know that God.

Here’s a prayer for those who felt too young or too old to bring a child into their lives; there are reasons why Sarai laughed folks,

This is a prayer for those who had too many children–do we know why Abraham and his coat of many colors and his stepmother died– and those who work too many hours, and those who do not feel like they would make good parents–Abraham I’m looking at you.

This is a prayer for those who were raped–like Bathsheba , whose bodies were violated who then had to make a hard decision afterwards.

Here’s a prayer for the widows or those hungry or alone or in hard situations like Naomi and Ruth. Here’s a prayer for those who choose sex work, who cannot be pregnant right now, the Rahabs who work in good faith.

This is a prayer those who might have wanted a child, but were definitely too unsupported–the would be Marys if they could have been–but they would have gotten thrown out, or who would have been in danger if they had said child–the ones who gave up their child, physically or medically because was just not to be–the Moses’s mothers of the world.

Here’s a prayer for the trans and the nonbinary people for whom healthcare and pregnancy or cost or some other piece was just too dangerous, I’m so sorry.

Here’s a prayer for the black and brown women, for whom birth control and abortion has become a tool of white supremacy to poke into their sex lives and to make them feel dirty–for all the Hagars of the world.

Here’s a prayer for all those who are not mothers, for whom abortion was healthcare, may you feel affirmed and blessed,

and know that there is no excusing faith becoming a weapon, to hem you in or to beat you up.

This is a prayer for all those who had moments of not-being mothers,

because Jesus knows that are beautiful, you are important, your choices are valid.

And he greets you by the well, and understands and affirms your decisions, and calls you lovingly, by name.

This is an anti-mother’s day prayer for you.

May you hold this prayer close when things get hard,

and know that God loves your full self,

the part that said no,

to say yes to a thousand other things–

God knows you and loves you.

May you feel blessed.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Did She Want to Get Up?

The Resurrection of Tabitha/Dorcas is truly a wonderful miracle. There is Peter, and there are all the widows taking care of her who stand as witness as he says, Tabitha get up. To me, the most amazing part is, she does. She must have loved her discipleship. She must have had things to do on earth. Because part of me wonders if Tabitha laid down because she was really, really tired, so tired that she was burned out. In a time where more than half of women admit to being burned out according to Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/deloitte/2022/04/26/women-continuing-to-face-alarmingly-high-levels-of-burnout-stress-in-the-new-normal-of-work/?sh=12cd72432e5c

What kind of world are we running where we decide that the women of our society are allowed to be run off their feet? It’s ok to work our women to death—a truth I think which has only been laid bare by the pandemic. Certainly, most of our churches are primarily run and kept in order by women. And the more that is put on women’s plates, the less the church is able to do—plain and simple.

One of the main reasons Christianity grew was because it empowered women—it is shocking to see it as a place that now conversely hems women in. Shutting them up, taking away their individuality, sexuality, independence and power—regulating them to baby making volunteers for Jesus. A place where abortion becomes a dividing vote: https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/03/politics/abortion-politics-analysis/index.html Meanwhile, Acts makes it clear that the women were the original founders and financiers of the church, making disciples and decisions going forward.

I imagine that Tabitha wanted to get up because she had more good works to do—because she found the charity work in her life fulfilling, because she was a woman who empowered women. Why else would all the widows be there? Widows, who are politically powerless, but clearly have purpose beyond baby making in Tabitha’s world. They are the ones who are present. They are very, very important.

I am tired, of being angry that less women are employed now than when my mom was in the job market. That all women of color are especially being left behind: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/over-1-million-fewer-women-in-labor-force.aspx That abortion rights are receding.

That my queer siblings are unsafe, that genders are clearly & stupidly divided (by baby making abilities) and uteruses are a commodity to be bought and sold and that my value to many is about how many Christian white babies I can make—and that I am not a real pastor to most because I am a woman. I am tired, and very, very angry.

But I am reminded, that resurrection in Jesus Christ, is complete resurrection, one of joy and energy and that the work is good, and moreover—the widows are waiting. So I guess I better get up and get to work.

A version of this appears in the resources available in “The Immediate Word” section of The Sermon Suite subscription resource that gives all kinds of help in sermon writing and worship planning: https://www.sermonsuite.com/the-immediate-word. I am a regular contributor, and my colleagues are fantastic writers if you are interested.