Every birth is a nativity for the family involved. Every newborn babe is shocking proof that innocence and holiness can exist in fleshly vessels. Every parent can tell you that every little infant is a surety that better things can be then the ponderous and deadly accretions of the World. Births are a miracle. Surprise and joy! Wonder and glory!
In this respect, every birth follows the pattern of Christ’s birth. His birth does to all of us what births do to parents. He unmans all creation.
In a sense, I think, we are spiritually reborn when we witness a birth. All men and women who witness it are reborn with Christ’s birth and we individual parents are reborn at the birth of our children.
That, at least, was the conclusion I came to while thinking over Christmas and rebirth this Sunday during the sacrament. As you know, the prophets explicitly describe baptism as being born again. They describe the sacrament as the weekly “renewing of our baptismal covenants,” which is the matter-of-fact Mormon way of saying that every week in the sacrament we are (or can be) born yet again as new sons and daughters of Christ. It seems to me that I’ve experienced that rebirth. At least, I have felt the something during some sacraments that I have also felt on witnessing my daughters’ births or on standing as a Christmas witness to the timeless birth of the little lord Jesus. I have felt the value, hope, freshness, and vitality that that’s slowly drained out of everything come flooding back in. Nothing looked the same; I’d only seen it with before with dead eyes.
This rebirth experience, I realized, has happened to me many times. I was baptized once. I’ve often taken the sacrament efficaciously. I’ve seen daughters born twice. And every Christmas, in my heart I’ve gone to the stable to glory in the Infant. All those are rebirths for me and remembering them was a sweet accompaniment to the sacrament.
Then, as I was sitting there with the bread and water, I suddenly saw myself in contrast to Him. I have been reborn and will be reborn many times. He was born but once.
Certainly we celebrate his birth every year. But we don’t do it, I think, as if he were being reborn. We do it as if his birth was somehow timeless and therefore ever present. It is as if he were the Lamb slain and born from the beginning of the world. But now can a birth, how can anything, be timeless? The answer came. His birth continues–the joyful promise of it is as good today as it was then–because he has never blighted it and thus has never ceased to be that child. The omnipotent Jesus is in some sense still the Child.
Every baby grows a little crooked as it grows. Every sacrament goer leaves the meeting touched, if still only lightly, with stupor. Every Christmas brings its quarrel. Every new leaf stiffens in the summer and sickens in the fall. He alone–the Christ Child, the Jesukin–was born and lives an evergreen.