As the Christmas season opens up before you I’m going to invite you to consider the impact of pregnancy and birth on our lives and work. It certainly has the ability to produce transforming experiences. It seems, however, that the realization of pregnancy generates not one, but many, sometimes paradoxical feelings. We all observe the impact of the news of pregnancy but I suggest to you that, without exception, it creates paradox. Most common of all reactions is joy. The beginning of a new life is intrinsically a joyful process. Sometimes joy becomes combined with fear. Fears about the baby’s health, the ability to be a parent, the pain of childbirth, the financial implications. So fear and joy dance a paradoxical dance. For the parents the excitement and the challenges soon join hands. For Joseph and Mary there were obvious joys and fears. Mary, like so many women, wanted to have a baby. When she realized the truth of her pregnancy she was overjoyed and probably a little nervous at the responsibilities. Joseph was initially afraid of the embarrassing situation he found himself to be in. Even when Joseph got the bigger picture he would have held on to his natural joys and fears as the months proceeded. Fast forward to the last days of the Jesus story and you find women running away from an empty tomb “afraid yet filled with joy”. There you have it again. It seems to me that this phrase, with its intrinsic paradox, is one way to summarise what it is like to be close to this Christmas baby. “Afraid yet filled with joy”. How will your week go this week? You will, no doubt, be beginning to gear up for Christmas. Your mind will be trying to rise to the challenges that lie ahead. In your Christian heart there is joy at the reality of the super real story of the birth of your Saviour. Yet you find a fear. A fear of admitting you are embarrassed when you own up to your relationship with Him. A fear of being mocked or judged. A fear that you are somehow weak for admitting that you now have a big picture view of the birth of this Son. Jesus always seems to generate this paradox within our souls. Mary, Joseph, disciples then through the centuries to you and me find ourselves full of both fear and joy. Which one will win this week? Which one will overcome the other? Actually, I think these are the wrong questions. The authentic good news lets people see both – then they can see the fears and joys have always pointed to the manger and have always pointed to the empty tomb because that’s what expecting Jesus has always produced. Bible Sections Luke 1:28-29 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. Matthew 28:8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.
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