Madeleine L’Engle, “The Risk of Birth”

Source: December 2 – Madeleine L’Engle, “The Risk of Birth”


This is no time for a child to be born,
With the earth betrayed by war and hate
And a comet slashing the sky to warn
That time runs out and the sun burns late.

That was no time for a child to be born,
In a land in the crushing grip of Rome;
Honour and truth were trampled by scorn–
Yet here did the Saviour make his home.

When is the time for love to be born?
The inn is full on the planet earth,
And by a comet the sky is torn–
Yet Love still takes the risk of birth.

Two weeks ago, a group of Islamic extremists executed a planned attack on the city of Paris.  They took no hostages, but coordinated suicide bombs and shooting massacres at city venues they knew would be well attended.  A soccer game, a rock concert and a popular restaurant were the targets these jihadists chose for their religious crusade.  They killed 132 people before taking their own lives, the final security forwarded for their insecure souls.

When I called my grandmother 23 years ago to tell her that I was expecting, she responded with anger and frustration.  “Why would you bring a child into this world?” she demanded.  “This world is no place for children.” Her sentiments echo the thoughts of Madeline L’Engle’s “The Risk of Birth.”  The poet contends, “This is no time for a child to be born, with the earth betrayed by war and hate and a comet slashing the sky to warn that time runs out and the sun burns late.”  A 21st century crusade that answers the medieval crusades foments in Europe and the Middle East, and the implications are awash not only on our televisions and news relays, but also on our shores:  violence proliferates.  Hatred ascends.  Time seems to be running out.

Yet, ironically, it was into a like world that Christ inserted Himself, incarnate God in a manger cradle.  Graft and extortion, racial bigotry, genocide, infanticide and tyrannical power plays set the scene for His grand entrance.  Not disdaining the strife of men, “here did the Saviour make his home.”  L’Engle asks a fair question:   “When is the time for love to be born?”  When have we ever needed love more?  In spite of the risks associated with redeeming man, the Lord of Love endangered Himself for man’s sake, taking “the risk of birth.”  Unlike the god of radical Muslim extremists, Jesus Christ did not suffer man to redeem himself, but became the radical, incarnate solution to earth’s rampant problems and man’s intuitive, self-condemning conscience.  Only His death is sufficient to secure the believer’s soul.   Redemption was achieved by a God that risked His own skin.

To bear a man is to wear your heart on the outside.  So I’ve read.  So I’ve experienced.  How I empathize with Mary in her suffering as she watched her God-Son expire upon the cross.  How glad I am that she did not heed the signs of wars and rumors of war, but took the great risk of loving and bearing the Messiah and Savior into a wretched and desperate world.  Inspired by her faith, her hope, her love, I do not regret the risk I’ve taken in bearing my own sons and daughters.  Suffering abounds, but redemption abounds too.  When is the time for love to be born?  Now.  Today.  In a time that begs it.  Birth trumpets the hope of redemption and foreshadows the return of the incarnate One, whose image we bear when we ourselves “take the risk of birth.”


Source: December 2 – Madeleine L’Engle, “The Risk of Birth”


Published by

Kate Zickel

I hate long walks on the beach and candle-lit dinners, but love roller coasters and the ocean. My favorite foods include bread pudding and chocolate covered grasshoppers. I am married to the love of my life and soon hope to add 2.5 dogs to the family. For fun, I enjoy reading good stories and exercising my second amendment rights. When I need the energy, I listen to U2, the 77's, and AC/DC along with a wide variety of country favorites. My favorite movies include "Breakfast at Tiffany's", "When Harry Met Sally" and "The Shining". I like being the first to disparage a popular trend before the other hipsters and can often be found at Starbucks (I'm the customer not yelling at the barista about too much foam).