Before dawn on June 29, 2001, I found myself in a delivery room at Central DuPage Hospital—again. My wife Senja was about to have our third child, and unfortunately, I was about to faint.
"I'm losing it!" I shouted out to no one in particular as everything began fading to black. The anesthesiologist was setting up my wife's epidural for pain relief, and I was holding on to her shoulders. Most of that night, I had been up timing contractions, giving back massages, and (unwisely) skipping breakfast. An RN quickly stepped up to take my place while I staggered into the hallway.
Another nurse rushed over and shouted, "Sit down and put your head between your knees!" I collapsed into a waiting wheelchair and sucked down three cups of apple juice.
About 15 minutes later, I rejoined the main event, and a lilting chorus of laughter and snickers greeted me. "I hope you're ok," my wife's OB said.
Yes, Doc, no damage done, except perhaps for my bruised ego on realizing that this father-to-be's role in labor and delivery is comic relief. Minutes later, our daughter Jaffrey Emilyn was born. Then I had breakfast.
Even God incarnate in Jesus Christ, born of Mary, has a birth story of sorts—and a wedding story, and a death story. Through the birth of Jesus, the wedding feast at Cana, and Christ's crucifixion, Mary's purpose and function are revealed. Timothy George, author of our lead article this issue, told me that Martin Luther once invoked a powerful image by referring to Mary as the "workshop" in which the Incarnation happened. But how can we embrace Mary and her proper place in Scripture—not just as someone who fulfilled a function, but a person who loved and followed God? It has something to do with the birth story we tell in church.