Today in the Mission Yearbook

Nativity of the Lord | Christmas


We are there

December 25, 2023

My presence at the birth was completely unexpected.

In the giddy yet seemingly endless days leading to the birth of our first grandchild on Nov. 9, our daughter, Elizabeth, and I talked about everything under the sun. Whether I had stretch marks after pregnancy. Who would drive her to the hospital when her labor pains began. Who would walk the dogs while she was in the hospital. How much paternity leave would her husband, Ryan, get. When could her father, John, and I share the news on Facebook.

But never did we ever say a thing about my being in the delivery room. And yet I was there.

On the day her water broke and she was admitted to the hospital, because we were all so sure the baby wouldn’t arrive until the wee hours the following morning, I went home. Then, after no call came overnight, she texted me at 5 a.m. not to rush. So, I took our son-in-law’s breakfast order instead.

With a Chick-fil-A bag in either hand, I knocked on the door around 7:20 a.m. and entered her hospital room. Without realizing it at first, I found myself walking into active labor. And after asking and receiving her permission to stay, I was instructed by the nurse to stand by her bedside and place my hand behind her neck to help with the delivery.

I was there to witness the miracle of birth. And, what’s more, I unwittingly played a part in welcoming 7-pound 14-ounce Elijah Taylor Odom into the world.

Today is Christmas Day. At Christmas, the church celebrates and gives thanks “for the arrival of God’s Word made flesh — the light of God that has come into the world, the light that even death could not extinguish.”

And, if even for a moment, we should ever think we weren’t there to behold the miracle, we were.

Or, as the Christmas stanza of pastor and hymnwriter Chris Shelton’s beautiful hymn “We Were Not There (We Are There)” proclaims:

We were not there out on the hillside
when the heavens rang with joy
or when the shepherds sought the savior
in the hay — a helpless boy —
but every time we echo angels
speaking words of peace on earth,
and every time we live as shepherds,
risking moments of new birth,
and every time we see God giving
gifts beyond all earthly worth,
then we are there out on that hillside.
In our living,
in our giving,
we are there.

 Emily Enders Odom, Associate Director of Mission Communications, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Today’s Focus: Nativity of the Lord | Christmas Day

Let us join in prayer for:

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Doug Tilton, Mission co-worker serving in South Africa, World Mission, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Mason Todd, Admin. Asst. Church Leadership Connection Office of the General Assembly

Let us pray

Holy child of Bethlehem, you are the hope of the world, the song of the angels, the treasure of our hearts and the glory of God among us. Call us to worship you in the places where your love is born anew: wherever kindness prevails, justice flourishes and peace reigns. Send us out to serve you, sharing good news of great joy, and praising God through you in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.