It’s been cold enough of late to remind us that we only recently enjoyed the season of Advent. A time of immersing ourselves in the story of angels, shepherds and wise men – and a newborn and His parents. We were awed and enthralled by Mary and Joseph’s acceptance of God’s invitation to be part of His salvation plan. To bring a new baby into the world and parent the second person of the Trinity, God the Son.

But God’s human story didn’t begin at Christmas, with His birth. It began nine months earlier – at the time when we now celebrate its end with the Cross and empty tomb! God’s rescue story, where the Word became flesh, began like every human story – unborn and at conception. The Word, who spoke all into being, became without voice: Became God unborn.

When God got fingerprints

Mary’s story in particular is interwoven with God’s. Hidden and in obscurity, nine months before Jesus’ birth, she was asked by God the Father to be the mother of His Son. In saying ‘yes’, she began a journey with Him that brought great danger and cost to both her and her Son, and would ultimately bring her to the foot of His cross.

The journey began with nine months of pregnancy. Jesus, God unborn, a growing baby boy, developing as all of us did. His heart beginning to beat after three weeks, His arms growing, His lungs forming, and at eleven weeks the fingerprints of the Son appearing. In Mary’s  womb, as yet unborn, we begin to see God.

A better story for mother and child

In 2024, society tells us that justice and compassion for vulnerable women like Mary look like an abortion. Facing stigma and shame from an unplanned pregnancy, threatened with death by powerful men, forced to flee as a refugee, expecting to raise her son in poverty.  The solution in our law and culture is a right to ‘choose’, a right to end her pregnancy. The understanding is that her life has more value than her unborn baby’s, which is often dismissed and denied, and that the unborn child will be better off not being born.

Yet these are the human circumstances and stage of life that God chose to be part of – and that matters. We must never underestimate or minimise the tragic circumstances women can face. But we believe that there is, and always will be, a better story than abortion – because abortion only offers life for one, through the death of the other. The better story for women and unborn babies requires each of us to fulfil our own part in God’s redeeming, hope-filled and life-giving story. This is where we see true religion, in being God’s hands and feet in the world. Helping, protecting and providing for both lives, especially those in the most vulnerable circumstances. ‘Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this – to look after orphans and widows in their distress’ (James 1:27).

Mary pondered these things in her heart

With the God Unborn project, Both Lives are focussing on the nine months between Jesus’ Incarnation and His birth. There is a short film for use in churches, and a seven day Lectio Divina devotional created for personal use during the month of March (see below). We are inviting others to join us, as we ponder the beautiful and challenging truths, that God’s Incarnation began at the moment of His conception, nine months before His birth. To see that Mary trusted God and said ‘yes’ to being the mother of the son of God, even in her fear and confusion. That God intentionally chose these people and circumstances for His human story which can redeem and save us all. It causes us to stop and question our own response to both lives in pregnancy.

The very fact that God’s human story, which began unborn, cannot be separated from His mother’s story highlights the value, dignity and sanctity of both lives and every life made in the image and likeness of God. Our Christian witness to care for the weak and the vulnerable is needed now more than ever. By remembering the beginning of God’s story in His mother’s womb as we celebrate its end on the Cross this Easter, we can find inspiration and courage for change.

 

Dawn McAvoy

Dawn is Both Lives UK Lead. That both lives in pregnancy matter to God was experienced by Dawn through her own story of pregnancy crisis. The love and support that was given in Jesus’ name sowed the seed for the Both Lives story. Dawn lives and worships on the Ards peninsula, Northern Ireland, with her husband Peter and their grown and growing family.

 

Free God Unborn Resources

Find out more at God Unborn.

Devotional resource, God Unborn: Mary said yes, for churches or individuals, helping us reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation.

 

In the video below, Both Lives UK lead Dawn McAvoy talks us through God Unborn: Mary said yes

 

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

 

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