N is for Nativity
During the joint Advent service various members of the congregations spoke on subjects starting with
the letters from the word Advent. Liz Bishop spoke about the Nativity. Here is what she said.
The Nativity from the midwife’s perspective
I often wonder how it must have felt for Mary - obliged at the end of her pregnancy to travel
many miles away from her home to the uncertainty of Bethlehem – to make that journey on
foot when she was big, uncomfortable and starting to experience the beginnings of labour.
Was she wracked with fear at the uncertainty of it – of giving birth in a time of high maternal
and infant mortality in a place in which there was no certainty of accommodation. Or was
she strong and resolved in her ability to perform the most basic and incredible of female
tasks, in awe at the wonder of her body, at its ability to build a new life and excited and
resolved at the task of bringing her baby into the world. Like so many women she must have
felt desperate to find a place of quiet and comfort where she could relax and focus on
performing the task of birth – I can only imagine her relief on hearing the innkeeper had
shown some understanding and sympathy for their situation and taken them to the stable. I
imagine the secluded space of the stable with dim light, a warm fire and soft hay and I fondly
hope the kind support of the wise and experienced innkeeper’s wife, all culminating in relief
from her fears, allowing her to birth her baby, Jesus.
The momentousness of birth can never be underestimated – the birth of a child with all its
capacity and potential laid ahead of it, in a tiny concentrated form, is transforming and overwhelming. The celebration of birth is universal and beyond reason – it brings a purely emotional response and allows no one to stay the same. Everyone changes with the birth of a
child – human roles are transposed – a woman becomes a mother, a man a father, mothers
and fathers become grandparents, sisters and brothers become aunts and uncles. The
desire to see, touch, smell and connect with the new life is magnetic. All degrees of humanity from the humble, agricultural Shepherd to the learned noble men are drawn to the newborn and stripped bare in unifying awe at the presence of a new baby.
Every year at Christmas we re-tell, the familiar descriptive accounts and facts detailing the
events and people present at the birth of Jesus, how those characters felt is not described, –
those details are left for us to surmise – to illuminate the full depth of meaning we draw from
our own feelings and experience of birth and new life. It is through the unsaid words we
understand and feel the love that Mary had for her baby and the love that Jesus bought to
transform the world. The most basic, intimate, constantly replicating event, the birth of a
child, is universally understood in its significance and will continue into the future to bring
transformation and meaning to our life.
St Margaret’s News