Ok, help my with my pastoral dilemma.
(Disclaimer: I'm not an ordained pastor nor really a preacher, just a lay church worker)
I've been asked to do a sermon for Lent during our mid-week noon service. The theme of these sermons is going to Being Still and finding God in the storms of life. So a tie-in to Psalm 46 with a each specific sermon being about a biblical character as well as real life experience. I'm assigned to do the Old Testament woman.
In looking at my options I find myself drawn to the likes of Sarah, Rachel and Hannah because they are certainly representative of the major issue for women in the OT: having children. These are women who were faced with Barrenness and ended up having children. Their stories are hopeful and inspiring and real.
Now, most of you know that Chris and I are not at a stage where we are trying to have kids yet. But, I have been a witness and supporter of many friends who were and are trying to get pregnant. Many of these friends have had trouble concieving for a variety of reasons and have gone through a wide variety of infertility treatments during their process. I have seen their pain in this process and the more I go through adult life the more I see people struggling with this on a daily basis.
The Bible has stories that relate to this. It isn't an old problem or a new one but a continuing issue of women: trying to get pregnant, trying to stay pregnant, having children. It is a defining role and have seen my friends feel broken by this pain - physically, emotionally and spiritually.
So part of my would like to be able to preach on these women during lent. To bring up these pains in church and maybe even try to determine where God could be in these storms. But, this brings me to the question: Can I relate in a meaningful and sensitive way to an issue I don't have real experience with?
I sent an email to Mel of Stirrup Queens a blog about infertility and miscarriages and a resouce for many areas and issues relating to it. I asked her a few questions and she agreed to post my questions in this post. So far it has been a mixed result about whether I would even be able to preach in a meaningful way to many of these women. But it has also been extremely telling to see how hurt the church can make them feel.
So I am posting the main question here too, to those who may know me or to those who know the pastoral call...Can I take on something like this with compassion?
Part of me feels called to talk about this pain having witnessed it...and part of me is fearful that I will alienate people further. I know that is a risk with every sermon, but I don't want to make it worse for those who are already in pain.
So what do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.