Has there ever been a more unexpected pregnancy than Mary's pregnancy in the Nativity story? Yet, as is so often the case with unexpected pregnancies, a truly loved child was born.
I had a memorable meeting with a teacher last Friday. I was meeting with him to go through the abortion presentation and, in his words, “to be vetted” before coming to present to the students! As I talked him through the presentation I could see that he was deep in thought and that some of the points I was making were having a real impact on him.
I was near the end and I came to the slide where I talk about the fact that abortions take place every year for Cleft Lip and Club Foot and the teacher stopped me. He stopped me and told me the following. “I have four sons. One of them was diagnosed with Club Foot when my wife was pregnant with him. I can tell you just now that if one of my sons is going to take his football professionally, and if I’m going to retire on one of them, it’ll be him! He loves football. He goes to sleep in his football boots. I have pictures!
One of my other sons was diagnosed with Down syndrome while my wife was pregnant with him. The doctors told us to have an abortion. But we thought ‘This is our child. It doesn’t matter if he has Down syndrome or not, we’ll deal with things as they come up.’ In the end, my son was born without Down syndrome. If he had had Down syndrome we would have loved him the same way as our other sons, but I just couldn’t believe that doctors had told us to abort him”.
Unexpected. There are various meanings of the word when it comes to pregnancy. What did it mean for this teacher? He and his wife certainly wouldn’t have expected his son born with club foot to go on to eat, (literally) sleep, and dream football. They wouldn’t have expected to receive a diagnosis of Down syndrome for their other son when he was yet unborn. And they certainly wouldn’t have expected that the doctors would be completely wrong.
When we celebrate Christmas, we celebrate the most unexpected pregnancy in human history. What did the word ‘unexpected’ mean for Mary and Joseph? They certainly wouldn’t have expected Mary to become pregnant as she was a virgin. They certainly wouldn’t have expected when they got married that Mary was to give birth to the Messiah. They certainly wouldn’t have expected that Mary was to give birth to this child in a barn in distant town called Bethlehem. In fact, that is the very last thing which they would have planned!
But Mary and Joseph accepted the difficulties gallantly. Is there any other couple in history who have faced a greater crisis pregnancy than they? They were far from home and probably only had the clothes on their back when Mary when into labour. We are in fact told that they were extremely poor so they wouldn’t have had much to eat on their long travels or in the town of Bethlehem were they had travelled to. As mentioned, Mary had no other option but to give birth in a place where animals were kept. Joseph must have diligently done his utmost to make the stable as clean and as comfortable as possible for his wife.
Shortly after Mary gave birth to her child the young couple were forced to flee because a dictator, every bit as tyrannical as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin, was so intent on killing the child that he ordered the infanticide of all boys under the age of one. Tragically, this was not the last time in history that children would be targeted because of their gender.
Mary and Joseph fought against the odds. And there is no doubt that it must have been unimaginably difficult at times. But what a joy it must have been to see their child grow into a kind and caring young man who would have loved his parents dearly and, we are told, listened to them closely as he grew up.
In the presentation about abortion which I give in schools, I speak about a client of Life whom, for confidentiality purposes, I call Suri. She was faced with a crisis pregnancy also and came to Life for help. We were able to provide her with the support which she needed to continue with her Higher Education and go on to give birth to a truly beautiful baby girl. I quote her in the presentation from a time when she said “My daughter is the best thing in my life. Times can be tough, but all problems have an answer if only you look for them”.
I say that Suri’s quote could sum up the whole presentation. Times can be tough, but she looked for the solution and found Life. Times can be tough, but, in the story of the Nativity, Mary and Joseph looked for the solution when they were turned away from every inn which they went to and found the answer in the most basic of stables. They lived to tell the tale and, not only did they live, but so did their child.
Life aims to provide practical support and accommodation for women facing crises like Mary faced in Bethlehem and like Suri faced while at university. We aim to provide accommodation for women pregnant and with nowhere to go. We aim to provide a safe place for women who, though not running from a tyrant in government, may well be running from a tyrant in their own homes. This Christmas we are housing and helping over 100 women who were facing such situations.
In this coming year we hope to provide help to even more women and children across the country. Thank you for your continued support in the vital work of providing a solution, even in the most complicated of circumstances.