Call The Midwife!

‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about’ (Luke 2:15).

Test your Bible knowledge: who were Shiphrah and Puah?

Well done if you recognised the names of the midwives commended by God when they disobeyed Pharaoh and saved the lives of the newborn boys (Exodus 1). Midwifery is an ancient profession and was an established role in Israel. Christmas nativities tend to portray Joseph and Mary alone in the stable, banished from all care and comfort, but it is entirely possible that, when the mother of Christ went into labour, a cry went up in Bethlehem: ‘Call the midwife!’

Mary and Joseph had come to Bethlehem for the census – they were surrounded by extended family and their relatives, Zechariah and Elizabeth, lived not far away (Luke 1:39-40). Pregnant women are nurtured the world over, especially as the birth becomes imminent. Someone, somewhere, gave them shelter. The Bible does not mention a stable – this is inferred from the manger – and Jesus may well have been born in a simple peasant home where people lived in close proximity to their animals. Perhaps the animals were in an annexe or tethered inside at night. Maybe there was always a feeding trough handy. Would the shepherds have ‘returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen’ (Luke 2:20) if Mary was cold and dirty and neglected?

‘All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel” – which means “God with us”.’ (Matthew 1:22-23)

Our word midwife comes from Old English and literally means ‘with woman’. And just as a midwife comes to help when the mother is vulnerable and in pain, so Immanuel, God with us, came to rescue us when we were helpless and lost, alienated from God our Father.

Thank God for Jesus, our Immanuel.                                                                  

Praise God for midwives and for good obstetric care. Remember those in developing countries where giving birth is still perilous.

Ruth Eardley is a GP and member of Affinity partner Little Hill Church, Leicester. She writes a regular piece for her church entitled 'Surgical Spirit'. We have been given permission to reproduce them. This is her latest contribution.


Image: "British midwife Kirsty Lowe weighs a newborn baby at an IOM clinic in the Kutupalong camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh"by DFID - UK Department for International Development is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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