by Bekah Vickers
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. — John 1:9-12
He was in the world. – The Birth Story is God’s Story, present throughout Scripture. In the meditations for this week, we are exploring the mystery of Incarnation as well as the ways that the Nativity Story echoes God’s Bigger Story throughout Scripture, revealing that Christ “was in the world” from the beginning.
Read Psalm 139
“The incarnation is not God’s attempt to fix humankind by getting in and out as quickly as he can. It was God’s plan for fashioning friendship between himself and us. It is like all true friendship— messy, frustrating, joyful and unending.” Michael Frost (Incarnate)
There is something magical about human touch. We know that studies show how critical it is in the first days of a child’s life, but we don’t need studies to teach us the healing power of a strong, long hug. I never want to forget the feeling of holding the hands of my loved ones, from my children’s small sticky palms to my grandmother’s soft fingers, bent into crescents by arthritis. My mom always claimed that we held hands in family prayer so that us kids wouldn’t fidget, but I know there’s more to it than that – that holding hands in prayer creates a physical circle of Spirit that strengthens and empowers us in ways beyond words.
This mystery takes on a much deeper level in pregnancy. A mother holds her unborn child unwaveringly for a full nine months, intimately aware of movement and growth; the child forms to the sound of his mother’s own heartbeat and is sustained by every thing that sustains her. No one else shares in this particular relationship without coming close to touch the mother’s belly. The process is miraculous and mysterious, in spite of all we think we know and see in our sonograms and blood tests.
And this is how God chose to enter the world. Beginning with the most intimate of relationships, a mother and unborn child. In Mary’s pregnancy, God reminds us that this is the level of intimacy He has always offered us. As our Creator, He has known us intimately from the beginning of time. The Psalmist tells us that God knit us together in our mother’s womb, and Scripture gives us one long story of a God who desired to be known by His people: He walked with His creation in the Garden. He shared His holy name with His nation and hand-delivered His laws to them. He caused plagues to curse and seas to split and walls to tumble so that the whole world would know of Him. He spoke to prophets and kings. And then He took on human flesh. But that was not the end of His “Know Me” campaign, for as He ascended back to Heaven, He left a promise of Himself to come, a Counselor to guide us and teach us and live in us until the end of days.
God was in the womb long before Mary’s lifetime, and He continues to seek that intimacy with us to this very day. This is who God is, the One who desires to be known. And not just as we might know a public figure or a great leader, but as we might know our own unborn child, in the intimacy of the womb.