Wednesday, December 25, 2013

God with an umbilical cord

Merry Christmas! The consumer Christmas season ends today. But, on the church calendar Christmas season begins today. As I have done the last couple of years, I will post a quote each of the twelve days of Christmas expressing some aspect of the joy and wonder of the Incarnation. For the first day of Christmas there is this reflection by mid-wife, Lois Williams which I received via email at the beginning of Advent:
It was mid-December and I was driving to a birth in the Pocono Mountains. It was late and light snow was falling. I searched for a radio station and found one playing Christmas carols. As is my habit on the way to a birth, I began to pray for a smooth, uncomplicated labor and a healthy baby.

As the carols played in the background, I prayed aloud, “Please, Lord, let the baby be born without any cord complications; let the placenta come out without difficulty; please, no extra bleeding…”

As I prayed, the words of the carols and my thoughts about the very real process of childbirth merged in my mind. I found myself imagining the birth of Jesus, his tiny head squeezing through Mary’s birth canal, his fragile body still warm from Mary’s, the way he must have “rooted” at her breast, the umbilical cord reaching from his body back up inside his mother, connecting his life to hers. God with an umbilical cord. I pulled over to the side of the road as my eyes filled with tears.

God with an umbilical cord. That is the Incarnation. That is Christmas. Our Christmas cards are so unlike real childbirth. Mary is clothed, serene. She looks as if she never even broke into a sweat. The infant Jesus appears to be about 6 months old. There is no blood. No placenta. No umbilical cord. None of the pain of Incarnation.

But God really did make his way into the world by squeezing through the narrow doorway of a woman’s bones. And when we can pause in wonder and worship of that fact, we have come close to comprehending the real meaning of Christmas.

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