November 30, 2011

I love teaching children about their “lifeday,” the day they began to grow inside their moms. They calculate their lifedays by counting backward nine months from their birthdays. (The mathematical whizzes, count ahead three months from their birthdays!) It helps the children understand that they existed as a real little person known and loved by God before they were actually born. The kids love doing this too, especially once I tell them that a lifeday gives opportunity to celebrate by having a lifeday cake and a lifeday party and maybe even lifeday presents!

As we move toward the joyous celebration of Christmas, Jesus’ birthday, it might be good to remember that Jesus existed as a real little God-person known and loved by His heavenly Father nine months before He was actually born. Indeed, the miracle of the incarnation of our Lord did not happen in Bethlehem at His birth, but in Nazareth at His conception. Except for the whole manger thing, Jesus’ birth was pretty much like any birth—pain, cramping, pushing, bleeding, maybe with Joseph a little queasy.

The miracle happened nine months before when the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowed a virgin and the holy Son of God was conceived in her womb.

What Good News! For our own conception was not so holy. “Sinful from the time my mother conceived me” David says of himself and speaks a truth applicable to all humanity (Psalm 51:5b NIV). Our Savior started where we did. Our Savior became a holy, one-celled human being and passed through all the stages of our development as part of the price for our redemption. What value His journey gives to all who make this journey from conception to birth and beyond. The path to the cross did not start in a manger, but in a fallopian tube!

Because Jesus made that journey, rose again and ascended into heaven, His Holy Spirit gives us another day to celebrate, our newlifeday! We have a lifeday, then a birthday, and then, through the washing of holy Baptism, a newlifeday! You guessed it, another chance to party and celebrate God’s great gift of salvation in Jesus.

So, this Christmas when you joyously sing, “O Lord, you have created all! How did you come to be so small To sweetly sleep in manger bed Where lowing cattle lately fed?” let your mind go back to when Jesus was really, really small! The great joy of Christmas is multiplied when we realize our Savior, at His birth, has already been humbling Himself for nine months because of His unparalleled love for all humanity from the moment of conception.

The New Year does offer a special opportunity to have “another party” and to celebrate. March 25, the Annunciation of our Lord (His lifeday!) occurs on a Sunday in 2012. Now is the time to start making plans for that celebration! Lutherans For Life offers materials to help you do so. (See page 9.) Maybe we could even add a verse to Welcome to Earth, O Noble Guest

O Lord, you have created all!
How did you come to be so small

To snuggle in a womb so warm,
Where you took on our human form.

Have a joy-filled celebration of Jesus’ birthday! Then, make plans to celebrate His lifeday!