The outside air is crisp and cold reminding us that no matter what happens creation still follows the dance the seasons play in the cycle – from the new life quickening in spring, the lush abundance of life in summer, the slow movement of autumn that leads to the blanket of winter drawing life into a time of nurturing rest. It has been a long year of waiting and wondering and weariness. This will be a different Christmas for so many. As part of my daily meditations I have been reading Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest who is the founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in New Mexico. These meditations have been a life-giving inspiration during this time. So, I offer you this mediation on the Nativity. In a quiet moment, take time to read it, as well as the question and prayer that follows it. It will be a difficult holiday; hope is the promise of Christmas; new life is waiting to be born into all of our lives; birthing times are always challenging. We pray for determination, patience and strength. Until then it is a good time to nurture our souls, reach out and pray for each other. Blessings to all of you…Rev. June
Giving Birth to Christ
[Richard writes…] My dear friend Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I. reminds us that giving birth spiritually is a dynamic and creative process. To bring Christ into the world involves an ongoing commitment to growth, to discomfort, to love, and to surrender. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is God’s invitation to all of us.
Looking at how Mary gave birth to Christ, we see that it’s not something that’s done in an instant. Faith, like biology, also relies on a process that has a number of distinct, organic moments. What are these moments? What is the process by which we give birth to faith in the world?
First, like Mary, we need to get pregnant by the Holy Spirit. We need to let the word take such root in us that it begins to become part of our actual flesh.
Then, like any woman who’s pregnant, we have to lovingly gestate, nurture, and protect what is growing inside us until it’s sufficiently strong so that it can live on its own, outside us. . . .
Eventually, of course, we must give birth. . . .
Birth, however, is only the beginnings of motherhood. Mary gave birth to a baby, but she had to spend years nurturing, coaxing, and cajoling that infant into adulthood. The infant in the crib at Bethlehem is not yet the Christ who preaches, heals, and dies for us. . . .
Finally, motherhood has still one more phase. As her child grows, matures, and takes on a personality and destiny of its own, the mother, at a point, must ponder (as Mary did). She must let herself be painfully stretched in understanding, in not knowing, in carrying tension, in letting go. She must set free to be itself something that was once so fiercely hers. The pains of childbirth are often gentle compared to this second wrenching.
All of this is what Mary went through to give Christ to the world: Pregnancy by the Holy Spirit; gestation of that into a child inside of her; excruciating pain in birthing that to the outside; nurturing that new life into adulthood; and pondering, painfully letting go so that this new life can be its own, not hers. . . .
Our task too is to give birth to Christ. Mary is the paradigm for doing that. From her we get the pattern: Let the word of God take root and make you pregnant; gestate that by giving it the nourishing sustenance of your own life; submit to the pain that is demanded for it to be born to the outside; then spend years coaxing it from infancy to adulthood; and finally, during and after all of this, do some pondering, accept the pain of not understanding and of letting go.
Christmas isn’t automatic; it can’t be taken for granted. It began with Mary, but each of us is asked to make our own contribution to giving flesh to faith in the world.
Gateway to Action & Contemplation:
What word or phrase resonates with or challenges me? What sensations do I notice in my body? What is mine to do?
Prayer for Our Community:
O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.