Birthing God: Luke 1:26-38

We are all meant to be mothers of God. 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 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? Then, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us. –Meister Eckhart 

I think of Advent as pregnant time. It’s a cozy time, a preparatory time. As the days shrink towards Solstice I become more of a homebody, hunkering down waiting for the rebirth of the sun, as well as the Son. This year, the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on that darkest, shortest day of the year.

I am studying to be a doula (a specially trained assistant and advocate for women giving birth), and so I spend a lot of time thinking about pregnancy and birth, especially for someone who has no children. I’ve been interviewing friends who have given birth in the past year. It’s amazing to hear how their lives and relationships, their very bodies, have changed and stretched to welcome the unexpected.

On this final Sunday of Advent, we hear Luke’s story of the Annunciation. Mary receives the surprising news that she is has found God’s favor and is being asked to carry the Incarnation into being. “But how can this be?” she asks, incredulous. The angel answers: the Holy Spirit will be upon you. 

God is calling out to each of us, “Hail, full of grace, I am with you!” God is asking us to carry the Holy Child to everyone we encounter. “How can this be?” we may ask. But as Mary quickly learned, when we let the Spirit in, surprising things happen. Our lives are stretched and rearranged by bearing God. It is often uncomfortable, sometimes awkward, but always magical. And the world is waiting for our “Yes!” in these chilly dark days. God is asking for our permission to create something new with us and through us, to bring love to the unloved, justice to the oppressed, and companionship to the forgotten.

Sometimes I think Mary gets terribly toned down in our remembrance of her. This gospel passage, however, shows us a Mary who talks backs, asks questions, and makes the bold decision to allow her life to be altered to birth God into an aching world. This is the Mary that I aspire to live like.

As Advent draws to a close, how will you let the Spirit in? What does it mean to be the handmaid of the Lord? What does it mean to give birth to God in this time and place?

Johanna Hatch is a feminist activist, writer, and amateur hagiographer living in Wisconsin and working in non-profit administration. She is a graduate of the College of Saint Benedict and the recipient of the Katharine Drexel Scholarship at the Washington Theological Union. She currently resides in Wisconsin with her spouse Evan.

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One Response

  1. This is lovely, Johanna, and I particularly love the quote from Meister Eckhart. I always get excited when I see Meister Eckhart pop up, after studying him in a mystical literature course in college– really, my first proper religious studies kind of course. My best friend, though, claims that I didn’t like reading Eckhart at the time and found him difficult! I don’t recall this, but I suppose she should know. 🙂

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