It would be almost impossible to miss the fact that our culture celebrates a major feast today. Trees, lights, dinners, decorations, and gift exchanges have already set the tone around us in the past few weeks. "All ready for Christmas?" the cashier asked as I collected my groceries on Saturday. I couldn't help but ponder that question as I drove home.
To me, Christmas is a time of contrast. When we snuggle on the couch with hot chocolate, my thoughts wander to those out in the cold. When we gather around with loved ones, empty places are experienced more painfully. And when we read the ancient account of the coming of the King, we learn of his humble birth in a stable in Bethlehem.
But that was not the beginning. Some nine months earlier, in a despised village—"can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?"—invisible and unbeknownst to the world, the Christ child began his earthly life in the form of an embryo. And his earliest recognition was by another pre-born child, his forerunner John, who as a fetus leapt in his mother's womb when the Savior and Mary entered the house. (Can anyone reading that consider the Christian faith to be anything other than pro-life?)
These humble beginnings remind me that truth, beauty, and goodness are not necessarily found in what is seemingly great. It makes me think of a man who, day-in, day-out, stands outside the gates of hell, as he calls them. You couldn't meet a more humble man than John; broken-hearted he calls, prays, and pleads so that precious pre-born children, their parents, and abortion clinic workers will be saved.
It makes me think of a woman who, at the age of 18, started caring for the abandoned children of Romania. After bringing the third baby home, Corina was asked by her parents to come up with a different solution, so she started a ministry and has since cared for the hundreds of children caught in the orphan crisis.
It makes me think of a pro-life volunteer in a Dutch village who works with Syrian refugees, one of them a mother of three born children, overwhelmed by her newly discovered pregnancy in a new country, just having left the nighmare of war behind. Another volunteer suggested abortion, and one was scheduled. The woman who values life, whose heart is broken for the Syrian mom and all four of her children, contacted her pastor and her praying friends. And in the middle of the night, the pregnant woman felt God speaking to her that abortion is definitely wrong, her fear slowly overtaken by a desire to fight for this baby too. The local church has rallied around her, providing all the support and supplies the family needs.
It makes me think of a mustard seed, the least of all seeds, yet when it grows and becomes a tree, the birds of the air find safety and nestle within the branches. A hug, prayer, or helping hand; a text, book, or presentation; a pamphlet, postcard, or conversation; a "Choice" Chain sign, banner, or Truth Truck run—all of them, mustard seeds.
All ready for Christmas? May the Christ child be born in each of our hearts and, in due time, also be seen in the sprouting of the seeds that were sown. Peace on earth, good will to all!