We are all such sophisticated urbanites these days aren’t we? With our salted caramel lattes, our Kindles & Twitter speak. You’d think we’ve come a long way from our primeval roots until you watch a group of men around a barbecue. Raw meat & fire is surely a siren call to the inner caveman! Yet nature still can best us in the most unexpected & terrifying ways. Captain Kirk may have thought space was the final frontier; try making an effective sandbag against the likes of Superstorm Sandy & then you can crack the galaxies!
So when a young woman gives birth in a 21st century hospital with consultants, midwives & medication on hand, you don’t expect anything to go wrong. If it does a swift emergency C-section should do the trick. But what if nature, who capriciously often won’t co-operate beats you to it?
Because, & this is the scary thing, it doesn’t matter how modern we are, when it comes to forces of nature we are every bit as vulnerable as our predecessors were.
When Mary took that long labour inducing journey to Bethlehem, as far as we know she only had one inexperienced birth partner, a wholly unprepared new husband. Kate, my daughter, asked if I’d accompany her & Paul when she had Elizabeth as she wanted ‘someone who knew what they were doing’. Fortunately we had Sarah the midwife too who proved utterly invaluable. With no warning, the onset of labour caused Kate’s blood pressure to start climbing very high. Despite medication nothing would bring it down except the birth itself. In a room growing with tension as first one then another consultant joined Sarah to keep an eye on proceedings, I suddenly discovered what my role was. It was to pray.
I think it may have been the same for Joseph, praying was maybe the one thing he felt equipped to do. To pray that God would give Mary the endurance, strength & protection she needed. I prayed because I was suddenly really fearful that Kate would be overwhelmed by the condition she was battling. That nature would outwit all that scientific know how. And then in the middle of what felt like a crisis, came a flowing sense of peace. It was out of our control but God was sovereign in it & it was going to be alright. And it was. For Kate & Elizabeth, & for Mary & the tiny new infant Jesus as he took his first breath of the Bethlehem air.
As we cuddled Elizabeth, Sarah asked me if I was a Christian because, as it turned out, she was too. How amazing that as I was praying she must have been as well. Without even knowing it a helper had been sent. In the room that day was a real sense of Emmanuel ‘God with us’. Just as he was on that first Christmas Day.
Many Christmas blessings to you & love in Jesus.