Thursday, December 15, 2005

What is Being Born? Here. Now.

Last Sunday I preached about my ambiguous feeling around Christmas. These thoughts arose out of that

One of my many quibbles with the whole Christmas thing is the romanticism of it. Or more accurately the way the church has romanticized (and sanitized) the story.

As Luke tells the story (and that is the version most of us use on Christmas Eve) it is a story about a young woman making an incredibly difficult journey in the ninth month of pregnancy and then giving birth in "less than ideal" circumstances. Remember that this is a time and place where death of mother and/or child in childbirth is hardly rare, it may not happen every day but it happens. Remember that babies are babies. They cry, puke, belch, pee, and poop.

Now think of how we talk about the story. We sing carols about but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes. We talk about how calm and serene a scene it was. To watch Christmas pageants and listen to Christmas carols one would get the picture of a painless, calm and quiet event. How many parents out there would describe childbirth as a soothing, calm, painless event? Joyful in many cases, even wonderful for many, but painless and quiet?

ISTM that the childbirth, the labour pains, the messiness and pain, is important to remember. The Incarnation is about the God who says "behold, I am doing a new thing". The Incarnation is a time when something new is being born. And with birth comes change. Life after a child is born is wholly and irrevocably different than it was pre-child.

So the question I have to ask is "what is being born now?" What are the labour pains of the world in December of 2005, for what do we wait with that mix of joyous/anxious/uncertain expectation? And when the birth takes place how will we react? How will our lives be changed?

Change is scary, stressful, worrisome. Change is downright hard. And if Christmas is about the coming of change, about the birth of God's newness, then maybe we should be ambiguous about liking it.


  1. Amen! This is great stuff Gord. I may quote you on the idea of "what is being born now?" -- is that ok? I'll be sure to give appropriate credit of course, and invariably someone will come up to me after the service and say "Oh, I know Gord, we have relatives in Atikokan..." We live in a very large, but very intimate Presbytery. Everyone knows everyone else!

  2. "It Seems To Me"

    Borrow away SUe...

  3. My mother in law recently got back from Senegal and has a whole new perspective on donkeys. They are loud braying beasts, not genteel creatures. Of course they are not in the Christmas story but still this is an example of what you're talking about.