Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Birth Narratives

"By which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." Luke 1:78-79

My mother loves to tell me the story of my birth. I was born on Christmas Eve in the Naval hospital on base at San Diego. Because of the holiday there were no nurses except for the enlisted and no anesthesiologist. In the 50s most women were put completely out for the birth so this was the first time she witnessed the whole thing alert and as a participant. My siblings opened a few presents on Christmas but waited until Mom and I got home to have a big celebration. And my Navy Chaplain Dad had ten church services across the base between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. She recalls it as a powerful spiritual time. I think that is common for many women, I know it was for me. The pain of labor vanished in the awesome reality of brand new life. My niece who is four now asks her mother to tell her about when she was born. There is something mystical, powerful and important about the moment when mother and child are closest to death, when the vulnerability and frailty of one life becomes the joy and completion of another.

And so it is with Zechariah. His silence has led to singing. This child, named John, is to be the herald of the inbreaking of God's redemption and healing. His child will have an active part in saving the world. He cant' t help but sing. He can't help but tell the story of God's presence and promise revealed in his life. It hasn't been an easy gestation period for him, but when he realizes it has come to an end and his life will never be the same - all by God's grace - he can't help but sing and share the good news with all he encounters.

Today, I want to be like Zechariah and be silent no longer. I want to not keep from singing for all the love that is in my life this day. I am showered with friends and family. My 85 year old mother will be with us today and I am sure she will recount her Christmas Eve 1955 story again for all of us. But why not? When we are touched by love, how can we keep from singing? May we all have the strength to sing to today, to tell others the great stories of God's love in our lives. The presence under the tree are no match for the love we have been given by God. May we all raise our voices today and be silent no longer. For the God of love is coming. The God of love is here.

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