I listen to the same Christmas songs every year, and the age old lyrics resonate with new meaning based on the season or circumstance in my life.
Driving through LA traffic on Friday night contrasted nicely with the calm Silent Night reverberating in my car. This time the words “Lord at thy birth” stuck out.
Obviously, I’ve been elbow deep in the topic of birth -well, maybe I should say unbirth. Preparing to make a documentary about abortion has challenged me deeply in how I think (and feel) about unborn babies. Needless to say, the subject matter is on my radar.
So in my whole life of doing Christmas and knowing about Jesus’ barn birth, it never occurred to me the powerful significance of God physically growing in the womb and being born. In sermons, I’ve heard a common emphasis on him being born in a manger (poor, humble). But now I’m awestruck by the simple fact of…born.
First of all, if it were me making that choice, I would have preferred to show up at least post-puberty. Or to come in on a golden chariot completely adult. Basically to skip a lot of the growing pains. But God Almighty chose to manifest in a helpless baby. The irony of that really tugs at my heartstrings.
Babies will always be one of society’s weakest citizens. They are vulnerable, yes, but they do have born rights. Arguably the most vulnerable are the not-yet-born. The law does not deem them as persons. Until the six-inch journey through the birth canal, they are property of mom to do with what she wishes. That stipulation is a central conviction as I embark on this film.
For me, the fresh meaning behind these lyrics is God emphasizing unborn or pre-born life. Jesus came to earth as an embryo- a zygote- a fetus. Did any of us technically “come into the world” at the moment of birth? No. We were already in the world, growing inside our mom – however unseen. It never occurred to me until now the fact that before he was Baby Jesus, he was Pre-Born Jesus!
However you celebrate Christmas, remember that God gave us the gift of new life through a lowly yet precious little embryo.
There is still a few more weeks until that symbolic day. Until then…Happy unbirthday, Jesus. [Get it?]