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Awaiting the birth…


As I write this morning, the world is abuzz with the great good news that the Duchess of Cambridge is in labor and that a third heir to the British crown is aborning. The crowds (media types and other well-wishers) are gathered outside the gate of the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Sometime soon, it is expected that an official courier will emerge, be whisked to Buckingham Palace to announce the birth to Queen Elizabeth, after which it will be posted, tweeted, and made Facebook-official for the rest of us.

A part of me wants to go all snarky about this. The hoo-hah and celebrity fervor surrounding the situation strikes me as unseemly in a world where children are routinely aborted before birth because they are unwanted or die soon after birth because of the poverty and turmoil into which they are born. Is this child any more valuable than any other nascent human being? I think not.

But beyond that (admittedly self-righteous) reaction: I find myself thinking about the Duke and the Duchess…not because of their royal titles, but because they are young, first-time parents. No matter how much pomp and circumstance whirls about them, they will soon bear the great privilege of holding the child which they have (by God’s grace) made…and of coming to terms with the unspeakable joy and abject terror of being parents.

It’s a terribly mundane situation for those so high-born. And thanks be to God for it. All of us who have been blessed to be parents have stood in the place where William and Kate will soon stand…looking with love and wonder upon this tiny life, imagining what might lie ahead for the child, and worrying whether or not they are ready to take on such great responsibility. My heart goes out to them; my prayers ascend for them.

And it causes me to wonder. With what deep parental affection does God look upon each one of us? In that moment when we are claimed in Holy Baptism as children of the Divine, does the very heart of God blossom at the awesome possibility that is manifest in each one of us? Perhaps that’s much too anthromorphic a characterization of the Almighty. But maybe not. For in the rightly ordered love we bear towards our own children comes a glimpse of the extravagant self-giving love which God has demonstrated for us in Christ Jesus. So in that way, God, too, is awaiting a birth…the daily re-birth and renewal afforded all of us in grace.

Imagine, then, the Father looking upon his children. If you have ever doubted such grace and favor, this is for you: “Oh, little one…conceived and brought forth in love…what great gifts you have been given, and what magnificent potential is ready to spring forth in your life. I love you forever.”


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