After arriving to services early enough to fellowship with the brethren before they began in a charming hotel a little more than a mile from my own hostel, I was given a duty that I had not planned to undertake at first but was asked of me because so many people had failed to bring their own hymnals to the Feast. I logged into the wifi for the hotel with my laptop, that I had fortuitously brought with me, and went to one of the UCG congregational websites that shows the song lyrics for our hymnal, and used that to help people read along with the songs. The sermon was mostly a discussion of the work of the United Church of God in Estonia, as well as some speculations on Estonia being, like Finland and Hungary, as part of the descendants of Issachar. The sermon was given by a gentleman from South Dakota who spoke about some lessons from helping cows give birth.
The story in particular that was used to illustrate the way that God has to help with our development as Christians was a story about his own efforts at helping a calf that didn’t want to be born leave the womb and enter the wider world. This is a story that struck as particularly poignant on several levels. For one, it is easy to imagine a calf being somewhat timid and shy when it came to being born and see believers as often the same way. Even on a literal level this has pointed applicability to my own life, because I was apparently in the womb ten months and showed little inclination to hurry until it was time go when I was born without a fuss in only a few hours after the water broke. Throughout my life I have always been wary and guarded and quite timid when it came to many matters. To be sure, there have been times of great courage, but when it comes to stepping into new ventures, unless I have thought and reflected on them at some length before, I tend to be very shy and uncomfortable.
It occurred to me as well that it could be coincidence, but it might not be, that so much is conspiring at this particular time to remind me so far of my own relationship with my father . After all, this was an activity of mine that I have seen my father do, when I would visit Pennsylvania in the summer and he would go out to help deal with pregnant cows who were having trouble giving birth. One should, perhaps, except any farmer of cattle to be somewhat proficient in this task, given how important the wise handling of little calves is for the well-being of the whole herd. It is also striking in this context that after I got back to the hostel after some adventures which I will recount separately and then a peaceful meal filled with spirited and lively and friendly conversation between my stepfather, mother, and myself on various matters biblical, I received a message from an elderly widow of my local congregation praising me for my thoughtful concern for the fatherless children of our congregation, along with a message from Atonement from a friend of mine and elder, who by coincidence happens to be scheduled to arrive at the Feast site tomorrow evening after some flight delays if all goes well.
What is it that would make a calf not want to be born? The purpose of a womb, after all, is to serve as a temporary home, after which young life is born into the wider world in which they will live their lives. Part of the reason why wombs are worth protecting is that they serve as places where little ones are to be nurtured and cared for until they are ready to survive out in the open, even if they require a great deal of assistance and encouragement for a long time even after they first draw breath. Yet for some, the womb offers a chance of security and warmth that may seem lacking to a little one reluctant to enter a world that may be far harsher than the womb. The child, in some intuitive lucky guess, may even be right that the wider world offers little safety and warmth compared to the womb, but it is irrelevant even where it is accurate, because our purpose is not to have the easiest and most comfortable life, but to live up to the purposes for which we were made, purposes which seldom have our own comfort and ease and security in mind. In light of the harshness of our world, it is little wonder that a calf might not want to be born if it is his purpose to be born in order to become veal or to be fattened up for slaughter. Yet we cannot be sure that there are not kinder purposes in mind, at least not without giving the farmer a chance.
 See, for example: