Christ's birth is a joyous occasion and an opportunity to reflect on the beauty of pregnancy and new life. We at The Back Porch are excited to share our reflections on the Gospels with you and hope they touch your heart. Each account of Jesus's birth is rich with insight into God's love for humanity and the dignity of human life. We hope you will be able to ponder these mysteries this Christmas, too!
Luke 2: 1-20
The Christmas story in Luke’s Gospel focuses on Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the hardship they face as they are turned away from all the Inns in Bethlehem. Mary is at the end of her pregnancy and both she and Joseph are far from home, with few resources. I can only imagine the fear and uncertainty they must have felt, with no family to support them, on top of being rejected when in need. I especially feel for Mary who was having her first child without the guidance of the women who had gone before her, probably feeling unprepared to face labour and caring for baby Jesus on her own. Joseph was there of course, but he would have had little to no knowledge about childbirth in that day, as those things were considered a woman’s domain. As such, Mary was left to herself to figure out how to do these things alone.
This reminds me of the mothers that come to The Back Porch. The fear that they must feel doing something they have never done before, unsure of what is going to happen, and often facing rejection from those closest to them. Though this is not the experience of all the mothers that come to us, the ones that stay often have received no support from their partner, are told to abort by family and friends, or are warned of the mounting responsibilities of raising a child by themselves by people who offer them no assistance. These mothers and their children, much like Mary and Joseph, are seen as inconveniences to others and are left to fend for themselves.
However, the saving Grace in Luke’s gospel is God. Mary and Joseph trust that God will provide everything they need despite their situation. Mary and Joseph are provided a place to stay at a stable where Jesus is born and are visited by many people, including the shepherds. God provided the necessities for Mary and Joseph to have Jesus and to feel supported by others who had travelled great distances to see Jesus, despite their poverty and isolation.
Pregnancy centres are similar in their role of providing for mothers and their children, despite the barriers and circumstances these mothers are facing. God is still in control and provides everything as long as we trust in Him. This has been made very clear to me, working at The Back Porch, which relies a lot on volunteers and donations from the community.
We journey with our clients, keeping in touch and assisting them where pregnancy centres cannot. With COVID thrown in the mix, I have found that even pregnancy care centres are unable to provide certain services to these mothers in need, causing us to fill in the gaps. I can’t tell you the amount of times God has provided for our clients and for us, often when it seemed like there was no other option. Like the shepherds in the field, God often provides materials or direction in surprising and sudden ways, filling us and our mothers with great joy. As such, anything is possible if we are willing to trust in God, as Mary and Joseph did, despite the circumstances that we face. God is always in control and seeks to help us, if we only ask.
- Anita (Back Porch Coordinator)
Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-12
As I was reading the nativity story in Matthew, the name Emmanuel spoke to me. Part of the prophecy from Isaiah, Emmanuel means: God is with us. I think this is an important reminder. How often do we feel alone? Misunderstood? Different? In our families, friendships, or relationships? Especially during this pandemic when we haven’t even been able to be physically close to those we love. Christmas, even before the pandemic, served to highlight to some people especially what they don’t have: a happy marriage, a closer relationship with parents, siblings, or children, inconsistent friendships, a lack of community, etc. Despite the beauty and the wonder of Jesus’ earthly incarnation, we can feel lonely. Especially if the people we love the most don’t share our faith. If this is something you experience, look to the nativity story in Matthew. Focus your mind on the notion of Emmanuel. God is with us. He understands our deepest loves and hurts and difficulties. We are not alone. He was with Mary and Joseph, he was with the Magi, he was also with King Herod. He is with you, and he’s also with your family and friends, even if they don’t believe in him.
God’s constancy is an amazing gift that we all share.
But as we see from Mary and Joseph, who consent to tether themselves to Jesus, and the Magi who sought Jesus to honour him, we too need to put effort into communing with God. It is only then that we can truly experience the overwhelming joy the Magi felt, and the true awe and beauty Joseph and Mary knew through Christ.
When we draw ourselves closer to Him, we can also see more clearly His path for us. We see this in Joseph accepting Jesus as his child made through the Holy Spirit, and the Magi finding Jesus, and listening, through their dreams, that they should not go back to tell Herod.
This reminds me of one of our client stories from this year. She came to us, thinking we were the abortion clinic. We let her know that we're not a clinic but that if she was interested in any pregnancy supports, we’d love to help her. She broke down and told us that the only reason she was thinking of getting an abortion is because she had no support from her family and friends. She then straightened up and revealed that she knows that God sent her to us and that this was a sign that she should grow closer to him. Speaking to her months later, we see the joy that growing closer to God has given her and the wonderful example she is setting for the family and friends who were originally unsupportive. She will soon get to experience the overwhelming joy of holding her little baby in her arms around Christmas time.
In your own life, what is the path to joyfully celebrating the Christmas season with those we love but struggle to like or spend time with? Drawing ourselves close to our ever-present Father, listening to what he says, praying and letting the Holy Spirit guide our actions and words. The closer we can draw ourselves to God, the brighter and righter our path! When we are filled with the “overwhelming joy” gifted to the Magi and act in a way that is reflective of the loving God who is with us always, we become a light in our relationships and a reminder to the rest of the world that God is with them too.
- Siobahn (Admin & Communications Coordinator)
John 1: 1-18
“He came to what was His own, and His own people did not accept Him.”
John’s account of the incarnation, of Jesus’ conception and birth, is a little more abstract than other accounts. John steps back from the details of the human experience, and brings us back to the beginning, before the creation of the universe. “In the beginning was the word…” There is a mystery that shrouds God. We cannot fully understand God, because He is infinite and we are finite; we have a limited capacity to know Him and we cannot see Him, speak to Him in the way that we do with friends and family. One of the fruits of the incarnation is a deeper connection with God, a deeper understanding of Him. “It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made Him known.” Jesus comes to us, dwells among us and, in so doing, shows us the heart of God.
Jesus shows us that our God is a God who loves us. He is a God who chooses to humble Himself, to become weak, needy, and poor, for love of us. His is a heart that suffers rejection. In His majesty, we owe Him all our reverence and devotion, but in His meekness, He opens Himself to rejection — and we, who are His own, do not always accept Him.
There is not a single form of suffering that Jesus can’t relate to. He can relate to each and every one of us. Even the preborn. Jesus knows what it is to be dependent, to have a hunger for love that is met with rejection, violence. He knows what it is to be marked for death, because of the fear of others, because He causes them difficulty or inconvenience. Jesus too was a helpless baby.
This vulnerability, that He freely chooses in becoming human, ought to be a source of courage for us and a source of consolation. Courage, because we know that the darkness does not overcome the light, even in the direst of circumstances. Not even death has power over the children of God. And consolation, because in the suffering we endure in this life, in this world where the culture of death — of abortion, euthanasia, and mutual use and abuse among people — is having its day, in all the seeming failure and disappointment, we are never alone. Our suffering is seen. The suffering of children lost to abortion, is seen. We are intimately known and understood.
We are never alone. Death, the powers of evil, the brokenness and sin of human beings do not have the final say. Our God is a God who opens Himself to our suffering, because our God is a God who loves us. He was in the beginning; all things came into being through Him. If God is as powerful as that, and loves us enough to enter into the darkness with us, we need not be afraid. We need not lose heart, because “The word became flesh and lived among us.”
- Gabrielle (Executive Director)
At The Back Porch, how we can serve the abortion-vulnerable women and their children is always on our mind. We're grateful for the encouragement God has given us in this season of Christmas. We're grateful for the love of Christ apparent in the Gospels. We hope it has been a gift to you, too!
You and your family are in our prayers. We hope you'll remember The Back Porch and our moms in yours!