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Daniel Nuzum's audioboos

Friday, December 24, 2010

Labour has started

The time has nearly come. In a few minutes Christians in this part of the world will start their celebrations of the Birth of Christ. Yesterday I sat with expectant parents at my place of work in a Maternity Hospital. They were eagerly and nervously preparing for the arrival of their baby. There was a palpable sense of expectation and trepidation knowing that there would be both pain and joy to bring this new life to the outside world from the safety and security of the womb. Tonight Christians the world over join with Mary and Joseph as they eagerly and nervously await the birth of their baby. A baby about whom so much has been written and painted. Yet, I have yet to receive a Christmas card showing anything remotely like the large 'bellys' and the distinctive walk or even waddle (if that isn't too rude a description) I see every day amongst women about to give birth and pacing the corridor to pass the time. I have yet to receive a Christmas Card of the nativity showing an exhausted Mary and Joseph! I have yet to receive a Christmas card showing anything of the tenderness and intimacy that a couple can share at this life-changing time.

We have sanitised the reality of the birth of the one who is the supreme incarnation of what it is to be human. To do this is to rob something from the incarnation of Jesus. To deny something of the sheer wonder that God would choose to come amongst us in the messiness, the pain, the nervousness, the danger of childbirth. While his conception was extraordinary his birth was as ordinary as any other. The Pain, the contractions, the screams, the labour, the birth, the blood, the squeezing Joseph's hand, the cord, that first cry. It is probably considered heresy to contemplate that Mary might have even used an expletive to get her out of this situation...!

So tonight, lets put aside the pasty, plaster and saccharine picture of Mary and Joseph as if they were hosting a tea party. Rather let us be real, and in doing so perhaps glimpse again something of the sheer breathtaking wonder of what it is that God has done. To honour Mary and Joseph for what they went through to bring God's plan to birth. Happy Christmas! Gloria in excelsis Deo...

The last day of Advent and pregnancy: nervousness, joy and sometimes searing pain

In this last week of Advent I find it a deeply moving time to be working in a Maternity Hospital. I can sense in a way I never really did in parish ministry a deeper connection wit the reality of what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph. I see them in the faces of excited parents as they come for antenatal clinic appointments, ultrasound scans, routine check-ups etc. There is a sense of nervousness and excitement as the impending birth draws near. Hands are clasped, kisses are exchanged, impromptu cuddles and affectionate gestures are openly displayed. There are knowing and penetrating glances between lovers. Mums and dada hold stretched bellys and feel reassuring kicks and movements. Walking through the antenatal ward we can eavesdrop on the little lives of those we have not yet met face to face but whose heartbeats echo via the monitors... A sound never forgotten by parents.

As well as meeting with couples preparing for the birth of their babies, I also met with couples whose pregnancy had ended or whose baby had died before birth. There are no words to describe the heart rending pain this brings. I think of them, all of them, each of them, this evening as I get my children's Christmas presents ready. I have a profound awareness of just how privileged I am to be able to do this.

I was deeply touched during one of the funeral services for a baby that I conducted in recent days by a particular piece of music which was chosen by the little baby's parents. It was Never Say Goodbye sung by Hayley Westenra and is adapted from "Pavane". These words capture something of this loss and the searing pain of saying hello and goodbye to a baby in one breath. So as you celebrate Christmas today think too of those who would give anything to have Santa in their home this night.

If I could take this moment forever
Turn the pages of my mind
To another place and time
We would never say goodbye

If I could find the words I
 would speak them
Then I wouldn't be tongue-tied
When I looked into your eyes
We would never say goodbye
If I could stop the moon ever rising
Day would not become the night
Wouldn't feel this cold inside
And we'd never say goodbye

I wish that our dreams were frozen
Then our hearts would not be broken
When we let each other go...
If I could steal this moment forever
Paint a picture-perfect smile
So our story stayed alive
We would never say goodbye 
Hayley Westenra

Monday, December 20, 2010

The womb of expectation and hope

We are in the final days of Advent. The rush is on to get the final jobs done, the presents bought and the fridge stocked for Christmas. Although there is an economic recession the tills seem to be ringing.
In these last few days what are we expecting from Christmas? What are we hoping for? What is nestled in our particular personal womb that is kicking and longing to come to birth?
What is stirring deep within which we might dare to bring to birth?
We all long for things in life and dream of how things might be different. Yet there is also the painful lesson that pregnancy can teach us; that is, that all new births occur following a journey of pain.
Before the cry of new life is heard there is more-often-than-not discomfort, nervousness, excitement, hard work and pain. A certain sort of 'blood, sweat and tears'.
For me as I approach these last days of Advent I am nesting within the womb of my soul the expectation of experiencing afresh the wonder of love. Experiencing afresh the wonder of the daily miracles that surround me in the people I love and who love me. There is an economic recession at the moment. However, there is no recession in the overflowing love which flows from God and is lavished on each of us and which we are invited to lavish on others. I can feel the kicks, the preparations are almost complete: Maranatha!