Birth is an amazing phenomenon !

I was hugely privileged to attend that of both my children, at Croft Baker maternity hospital in Cleethorpes.

Sue had a complicated pregnancy with our firstborn – breach, until few days before birth, when baby turned quite ‘miraculously’.  Convinced, wrongly as it transpired, that we were having a boy, we failed to consider the likelihood of a girl making her appearance, and gave no thought to girl’s names until, that is,  our harem-scarem drive to hospital once serious contractions started. “What if it’s a girl ?” one of us posed the question at Toothill roundabout, Grimsby … we hastily arrived, both at a mutually acceptable name – Miriam – and the aforesaid maternity hospital !

And so to the ‘birthing room’ –  Sue is heavily sedated, more and more exhausted, and baby is not co-operating . Doctor decides, due to baby’s head size, that it necessitates ‘forceps delivery’. At this point attendant fathers were usually asked to leave, but for reasons I’ll never know I was permitted to stay and observe. Some of what happened next is now very hazy, but Dr Birch’s own words to Sue afterwards: “I thought your husband was going to grab the forceps and get pulling…” paint the picture well !

For the record, I didn’t feel faint or fearful – just a sense of awe at the incredible experience of watching our daughter being birthed into the world – that’s almost 35 years ago.

25 years before that, I made my grand entrance onto life’s stage, on 20th December 1951 at a farm-house in South Yorkshire – which, of course, means I’m celebrating my 60th birthday soon – how unbelievable is that !  Some friends may recall, on entering my 57th year, how I had an awful experience of ‘words’ entering my mind, completely from the blue – “this will be your last year”.  Now, my dad died aged 57, and these words were, in my opinion, a demonic suggestion intended to instil fear in me … which they did, until eventually they were broken through praying with others. So, you’ll understand how grateful I am to be in touching distance of the big  six-zero.

Of course, the reason for this season – Christmas Day – gives us “the birth of all births” so far as Christ-followers are concerned.  And here I’m thinking not so much of background prophecies, or of biblical events surrounding Jesus’ arrival on the planet – exciting & important as these are – but on the actual identity of the One born to the virgin Mary – for my conviction is that it’s the WHO that explains everything else about the Nativity !

Let’s hear a voice from ‘antiquity’ –  “The very Son of God, older than the ages, the invisible, the incomprehensible, the incorporeal, the beginning of beginning, the light of light, the fountain of life and immortality, the image of the archetype, the immovable seal, the perfect likeness, the definition and word of the Father: he it is who comes … and takes our nature, for the good of our nature … He who is full is made empty; he is emptied of his glory for a brief space , that I may share in his fullness.”  –   St Gregory Nazianzen, 4th-century theologian and archbishop of Constantinople.

In that one birth is birthed the Kingdom of God on earth.

Yes, birth is an amazing phenomenon !  …  and so is ‘new birth’ – the prerequisite for seeing and entering God’s Kingdom – and now made gloriously possible by the first Advent of Jesus, as Wesley so eloquently puts it in his well-loved Carol:

born to raise the sons of earth,

born to give them second birth

Worth celebrating, I reckon … so HAPPY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE, and let the dancing begin.