Readings: Psalm 80:1-7; Isaiah 66:7-11; Luke 13:31-35
Before she was in labor she gave birth;
before her pain came upon her she delivered a son.
Who has heard of such a thing?
Who has seen such things?
Shall a land be born in one day?
Shall a nation be delivered in one moment?
Yet as soon as Zion was in labor she delivered her children.
Shall I open the womb and not deliver? says the Lord;
shall I, the one who delivers, shut the womb? says your God.
Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy, all you who mourn over her –
that you may nurse and be satisfied from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight from her glorious bosom.
Isaiah 66:7-11 NRSV
New life doesn’t survive on its own very long: a mother’s milk nourishes the newborn body, a mother’s and father’s loving gaze and comforting embrace nourish the heart, mind, and soul. Without this love and devotion, new life withers and does not grow.
Sometimes I forget that the same is true of the life-giving spark that is born in the soul, the image-of-God in everyone. That spark is nurtured by the people we love and the faith traditions that sustain them. I am in debt to every person who embraced my spiritual growth and fostered it.
Sometimes, I forget that faiths are also born – gifts of the loving God who created everything and sustains every breath. My own faith of manger and cross was born to the faithful children of Yahweh. It is the faith of Israel, the heritage of Abraham and Sarah, Deborah, Jacob, Mary, and Joseph that embraced and fed it. I am an ungrateful and unwise child, indeed, if I don’t see in this a mother’s love and the steadying hand of God.
Nat King Cole, Christmas for Kids from One to Ninety-two, (recorded at Capitol Studios, Hollywood, CA), compilation [Hollywood, CA: Capitol Records, 2000]