“Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son. And they will call him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God with us.’”
Matthew 1:23 CEB
I have been doing a little reading to prepare for the seasons of Advent and Christmas. A thoughtful reflection I recently came across was written by Wendy Wright and published some time ago in “Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life.” I appreciated the author’s thoughtfulness and insights around the wonder of the birth of Jesus. In her reflection she writes: “God became human in the person of Jesus through the person of Mary, through this woman’s willingness to open herself, soul and body, to the divine seed that soon would flower for the redemption of the world. It was Mary’s assent to the angel’s startling announce-ment that ushered in a new age. It was in her pregnant womb that heaven and earth were so lovingly intermingled, through the waiting experienced in her flesh and blood that God was made to walk with humankind.”
This reflection reminded me that at a minimum it took Mary and nine months for God’s Word to become flesh and dwell among us. God sent Jesus to us all, but needed some time and willing partners for God’s own life to be revealed in such dramatic fashion. This is exciting news and adds to the mystery of this time of year. It means that in addition to Christmas being a celebration of an extraordinary, joyous event that happened a long time ago, it is also about a very present possibility. God continues to be with us and invites each of us to play a role in the “birthing” of that which is divine in our world. Like Mary, we too may be surprised at times by the opportunities presented to us for doing so, as well as the intuition that even we have been hailed to receive into ourselves the seed that God wishes to plant there. God is waiting to be born over and over again; in us, in others and in the world around us. When we say “yes” to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we too can become the ground out of which the incarnate God flowers the world. As the author of this reflection states “We are pregnant. We are the place of waiting, the place of the question, of the advent. We are the womb through whose pulsing life God is born.”
These words remind me of others I have considered, particularly the insights of the prophet, pastor and mystic of the late 13thcentury Meister Eckhart: “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace and if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.”
During this Advent we recognize the holy waiting we do for God’s life to grow in us and in this world. This waiting can be hard at times, yet we also celebrate that God is with us; breathes and moves in us and continues to long to be born. We rejoice because our Christian faith does not celebrate the reign of a disembodied deity but rather a God whose presence here on earth can be dramatically revealed at any time, in any place, in any person – including each one of us.
Blessings this Advent!