Defender of Mankind

December 6, 2006

“And she brought forth her first born son…”

I know why the Nativity story has been so potent over all these years.

“For unto us a child is born…”

I hope no one will consider it sacrilegious of me to say that it’s because we can identify with these people. The Child in the manger is the essence of our own children. It’s our own babies we celebrate when we celebrate Christmas.

“Joyful and triumphant … Come and behold Him!”

When my grandmother gave birth to my father in 1915, she “felt like a queen,” as she described it later, the Queen of Heaven perhaps, why not? In Ingmar Bergman’s great film The Seventh Seal, Jof, the artist, the one character whom Death cannot defeat, has a vision of the Queen of Heaven teaching Jesus to walk, but it’s his own wife he sees in the garden, their own little boy.

“This lyttel Babe, so few days old
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold”

The age-old poetry about Christmas applies just as well to our daughter Emma and her baby, Alex, born last night, whose name apparently means Defender of Mankind. I’m not claiming that he is going to be another Jesus, only that the New Testament’s dramatic, heart-breaking, wonderful story is about what we are supposed to be: not mere shadows cast on the walls of Plato’s cave, but the real thing.

“This lyttel Babe will be thy guard”

Welcome to Alex arriving at the door to this cave.

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