Sing, barren woman,
you who never bore a child;
burst into song, shout for joy,
you who were never in labour;
because more are the children of the desolate woman
than of her who has a husband,”
says the Lord.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities.
- Isaiah 54:1-3
The premise of the film Children of Men is that at some point in the future humanity has become completely infertile. As the maternity wards and primary schools empty society becomes chronically hopeless, violent, and oppressive. Britain is an authoritarian dictatorship which, while relatively benevolent for citizens, is completely inhumane for the thousands upon thousands of refugees who have fled as other states have completely collapsed.
Theo - a jaded civil servant - is contacted by his estranged wife. She draws him into the murky world of a terrorist group called the Fishers, who are have stumbled upon something incredible - the first pregnant woman in 18 years. He ends up becoming a companion and protector to the expectant refugee mother Kee. She eventually gives birth in the middle of a pitched battle in the refugee camp the town of Bexhill.
As the baby's cries are heard, the shooting stops. Theo and Kee walk with the baby through the front lines. Everyone recognises that they are in the presence of something sacred, a new hope.
In the Apostles' Creed, we read the line 'I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary'. The Virgin Birth doesn't seem central to the Christian faith - it seems odd. But in key moments in the story of the people of Israel, a miraculous birth is a sign of a new hope: Isaac, Moses, Samuel, John the Baptist.
When we think that when the story is over, that everything has been run into the ground, when evil and darkness and human power are the fixed realities which we have to work around – these are God moments. The Spirit overshadowed Mary, just as the Spirit hovered over the waters of the uncreated word, and new creation began. That's the meaning of the virgin birth.