Giving birth to Christ in the world

Be still and know

Spiritually, we are all called to be pregnant with God and to give birth to Christ in the world.

Men and women alike, this is our mission, and the mother of Jesus gives an outline of what that birthing is all about.

Scripture doesn’t offer a lot of information about Mary. But if we look at the sequence in the Gospels, and hen choose to understand them as parable, we will see our own spiritual growth.

Mary is our model.

I’ve spent prayer time with Gospel references to Mary, and while I would like to share these with you, I’d encourage you to make your own journey.

Call

Mary didn’t know what God was asking of her. “Hw can this be?” she asked.

When we are called, do we say, ”I’m not ready?” “People will laugh at me.” I’ll make a fool of myself.”

Perhaps we eventually say with Mary, “Let it be done to me.”

Doubt

When Mary saw Joseph’s reaction, she must have experienced doubt, anxiety.

That is natural for us, too. Doubt is our instinct for survival trying to keep us safe. Our ego is slow to understand spiritual growth.

Affirmation

When Mary visits her relative, Elizabeth’s baby John recognises Jesus in the womb.

We too get affirmation with spiritual growth. If we are acting from fear or ego, we are likely to feel empty. If we are pregnant with God affirmation will come in all sorts of ways.

Giving birth

Mary could not control the circumstances of giving birth. We can be sure that the time and place was not as she would have chosen.

How often are we surprised at the way God has used us to bring Christ into the world?  It was not as we would have chosen. It wasn’t even our doing. It was about something that was done through us. Perhaps in our astonishment, we cried, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

Spiritual maturity

At the wedding in Cana, Mary is in a position of authority. She is concerned for the guests who have run out of wine. She knows her son is ready for ministry, even if he doesn’t.

The miracle happens.

In her ministry, Mary reminds me of a good friend who had a reputation for powerful prayer. When asked about this, she said simply. “I never pray for myself, only others.”

That is a good description of what ministry is about.

Crucifixion

Imagine how Mary suffered at the cross. One of the gospels says she was at a distance. But she must have been close to the cross. In all that horror and mayhem, her son spoke to her, recommending her to John’s care.

We have all suffered crucifixions directly or indirectly. If we stand with Mary at the cross, we will feel her helplessness and grief as our own.

Have we been unjustly treated? When have we lost someone we loved?  Was there a time when all our hopes and dreams were taken from us?

Looking back, we count the times and know that spiritually, crucifixion can only be understood as part of resurrection.

Resurrection

In the Gospels, the resurrection story is all about Jesus and the disciples. Mary is not mentioned.

If we read between the lines, we see Jesus turnings up unexpectedly here and there, but we are not told where he is staying. He would surely have been with his mother.

Our resurrection stories tend to bring us home to where we are meant to be.

When we look back on our “crucifixions” we sometimes realise we had to be emptied in order to be filled with something new. What is resurrected is always greater than what has died.

Freedom

The next mention of Mary is in the upper room at Pentecost where the wind and fire of the Spiritual Presence of Christ Jesus establishes the new church.

What began for Mary as “How can this be?” is now a place of maturity and freedom.

So it is for us. We were called to walk a path that has become so wide, it doesn’t appear to have horizons. God is everywhere.

But freedom does not last. Spiritual Growth is a spiral and we will go through these seven stages again and again, each time moving to a higher level.

Each time the agel will come to tap us on the shoulder, or pull the rug out from under our feet, and we’ll be going through it all again.

The good news is it’s at a different level and that makes it familiar.

Spiritual journey is not like physical journey in which we leave the road behind us as we travel.

In a spiritual journey, we take the road behind, with us; experience becomes wisdom, and future acceptance makes the journey much easier.

Like Mary, we have the knowledge of Jesus growing in our lives.

This is the ultimate Christmas gift that the church gives us.

  • Joy Cowley is a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and retreat facilitator.
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News category: Analysis and Comment, Palmerston.

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