At this time of year Christians think a lot about Jesus coming as a baby. As I sat in my thanksgiving chair this morning, resting from a burst of dusting (where does it all come from?), I was struck with all the decisions that have been made for me simply by virtue of my birth. Think about it. I was born white, female and American. I had a mother and father who were married and from that union was blessed with two sisters. Situated in this way, I was sent by God to live my life. Wow! Think of the implications of each and every one of these givens. I was born materially rich. I was born in the majority race and class. I was born to bear babies and not fight wars. (If I had been male my lottery number, based on my date of birth, would have been number 1 during the Vietnam Era of my country’s history. I would surely have been drafted.) I was the first in my family to go to college. I went all the way and I have a PhD. The United Nations says that only 1 in 100 people in the world go to college, let alone have a doctorate.
Birth is a big deal. I think of the verse in Acts that says
From one blood He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.
27 “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17
As a graduate student in anthropology, I was so enamored with the idea of how an individual is shaped by virtue of where he/she is born that my husband took the photographs from a Life magazine photo-essay and had them custom-framed around the verses from Acts. It adorned the wall of my office for many years when I taught maternal-child nursing.
Yes, I think of Jesus’ birth at this time of the year, but this year I am also thinking of my own and looking back over 60 years of living. What have I done with the gift of life? As Carrie would say, I was already pondering when my sister shared this story about a man and his son who come into the bar where she works. The man and his son sit at a table and share a cold cola and play some darts and banter about the day. This particular day they had just returned from hunting and were reminiscing about the fun they had had. All of a sudden a woman at the bar said, “You’re kidding me. They let that Retard hunt?” This young man, the son of the father and the son of the Father, was born with Down’s Syndrome. I guess the proprietors of the pub let the woman know that her behavior was unacceptable. She was not suspended from the club, but it was close.
I didn’t initially put intellect as another given at birth, but it surely is, a precious given from the womb. I wonder what Jesus’ IQ was….
Walking this Wednesday to Bethlehem,