God with us
It starts with a genealogy going back right to the beginning, to the first man, fallen.
The fallenness is evident in the list of real people
God has chosen to be part of his son’s very human ancestry:
The venerated patriarchs – who paved the way for those behind
but stumbled over their own lies, cowardice and cheating.
The kings – some men after God’s own heart but also adulterers, murderers and idolaters …
even upright leaders of society had their hidden sins exposed by God’s Word.
Women are mentioned – a prostitute who saved Jewish spies,
a gentile widow who followed her forlorn mother-in-law wherever she went,
a multiple widow who tricked her father-in-law into donating his sperm.
All are mentioned by name, known completely in their complexity by their creator,
who majestically stands outside and beyond.
God’s experiential knowing from the inside of human space begins.
The alpha and omega voluntarily limits himself to slow development –
one cell division at a time.
The genetic information God designed into generations of Jewish people
intimately intertwines itself with divine nucleotides (?)
and God is not just involved but committed.
The God-man embryo is fully connected to humanity through the umbilical cord,
human blood pulses through his arteries;
head, shoulders, knees and toes develop,
ready to move inside his mother’s womb to affirm, this is real.
The creator is confined to physical space,
limited in another’s body, yet expanding.
There is the announcement of the implantation of the God-ovum seed into the virgin’s womb.
How can this be? asks the innocent girl in a mixture of shock and awe.
She knows she is pregnant from conception.
She is given more time to adjust to this idea than the rest of us usually receive.
In those first three months of hormonal upheaval and morning sickness,
she is given respite in her cousin’s home.
This older woman is a few months ahead in her own miraculous pregnancy
and receives immediate insight into the virgin’s condition so that
she can give the support only she is in the position to give.
The pregnant virgin stays in the house of a speechless priest.
Whatever conversation about Biblical promises and Truth happens during this time
is mainly between two women in a patriarchal world.
She returns to her parent’s home.
There is not much time left before her state will be public knowledge in her community.
“She was found to be with child” tells us nothing
about the parental disbelief, shame, horror, questions and disappointment she must have faced.
What happened on this journey to visit her cousin?!
Her betrothed is told and wants to divorce her quietly to avoid “putting her to shame” –
what happened to young women who were pregnant outside marriage?
But he is told she is innocent in a dream.
The baby she carries is the promised son of God.
He is convinced enough to marry her – an admission
of co-guilt in the eyes of the community.
He gets to share in the shame.
The journey- Joseph takes her with him.
He knows the prophecy that the Saviour would come from Bethlehem.
There is the legal pressure of the census.
Would it not have been culturally appropriate to leave her
behind with her mother to help her through the birth?
One can only guess at what social pressures there could have been. What we know
is that this new family takes a hard journey at a most uncomfortable and inconvenient time.
God knows walking 160 km can induce labour.
Why do they ask for lodging at an inn? Where is his family and support system in Bethlehem?
Why do they not offer their hospitality? We are not given the details.
The birth of this baby, usually experienced in the supportive environment of the broader family,
is outside the norm – away in a manger …
Then, that famous night. Silent?
Although not mentioned in the Biblical accounts,
there would have been painful contractions, water breaking, blood and after-birth.
We are not told whether there is a local mid-wife attending or
whether it is Joseph who helps his virgin wife and becomes unclean in the process.
Given God’s upside-down way of doing things, anything seems possible …
The plaintiff wails of a healthy newborn mingle with the sounds of the animals
put out into the night – or maybe they do stand inside and stare blankly and politely into space?
Right here he lies in this inhospitable world, dependent, vulnerable, real,
knit-together in his mother’s protected womb, pushed out through the birth canal,
all senses reeling in response to the change in environment, now
fully inside and near to every human experience …