The Christmas story has always been wonderful. The news that the Son of God, creator and sustainer of all things, able to speak the heavens and earth into existence by a word, took on the frail, fragile cloak of humanity as a newborn baby is so awesome, so utterly selfless and incomprehensible to our human minds we can't help but marvel and wonder.
But since I have become a parent, the nuances of the story have become even more poignant. I felt something in common with Mary, pondering and treasuring things in her heart. I pondered and treasured as I grew my own babies, the world receding to the background as the stirrings and rumblings reminded me like a delicious secret Morse code that a real human life was emerging. To imagine that you were carrying not fallible human life, bound to disobey and disappoint, but the true God incarnate, Word made flesh, the Ancient of Days. It boggles the mind.
But this year, I found new wonder in the Christmas story.
After the angel Gabriel came to Mary, it says in Luke that Mary went a few days later to visit her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant already with John the Baptist. When Mary arrived, the baby leapt for joy in Elizabeth's womb, recognizing the "mother of my Lord."
It never occurred to me that Mary was merely days pregnant when the baby leapt in Elizabeth's womb, recognizing he was in the presence of the Lord. An embryo only, not even, just a cluster of cells not even implanted in Mary's uterus by then, but the Lord nonetheless. Do you understand what this means? A pre-embryo, but the Great I AM.
I lost a baby this week, an embryo only, in biological terms not much, but in God's eyes and ours a real person, a real life, a real baby, a real grief. I knew this, but the Christmas story reminded me.