Saying Yes to the Spirit: A Meditation on Delivering Love Into the World

Saying Yes to the Spirit: A Meditation on Delivering Love Into the World December 24, 2022


As Christmas draws near, I’m thinking

About a courageous, vulnerable girl on the brink of motherhood,

On the brink of a new world being born

Through her very flesh,

and blood, sweat, and labor…


She knew what she was getting herself into,

At least to some degree.

She knew that her “Yes” to the Spirit was a risk.

Joseph could desert her (but thank God he didn’t)

And the neighbors might whisper and snicker behind her back,

And her body and spirit would be pushed to the breaking point again and again

And there would be sleepless nights

And weary arms

And mess and tears and bruises.

And God Incarnate would become utterly vulnerable in her strong and gentle hands.


She knew the work of motherhood,

As we all know it in theory…

Before the reality of endless washings and feedings

And swollen breasts and aching backs,

And a ceaseless flood of worries

Bursts into our lives…


But she also knew that she carried

The promise of something utterly new,

The upending of unjust power structures,

The hope of the exploited and oppressed,

The comfort of the poor and marginalized and unloved

In the fierce, fluttering bundle of flesh

That grew and kicked and rolled and hiccuped

And would soon push his way through her

Into the dark, cold, lonely world.


Now my mind shifts to the days when

Mary held her child close as

They fled the wrath of Herod,

And hunkered down in Egypt.


How Jesus watched as

His mother and earthly father struggled to find food

And shelter

And a caring soul to let them in,

Flooded, as the land must have been, with refugees,

Fleeing the Massacre of the Innocents.


I’m pondering how Jesus saw his parents

Love him through the struggle and hardship,

Toil and risk and dare

To show him beauty

And kindness

And joy

In a world that tells too many children and parents

There’s just no room.


I’m thinking of the return to Nazareth,

And the snickers and rumors,

And whispers behind the holy family’s back,

Given Jesus’ questionable paternity.


How love,

And faithfulness,

And the patient, persistent work of living through scandal

Impressed on Jesus’ heart the strength

To face down the ignorance of others

With confident defiance.


A mother with the courage to weather unwed pregnancy

And a father with the manhood to love her through it,

Bestowed on their son the blessing

Of not caring about status or reputation,

The courage to embrace the outcast

Whatever the authorities and gossips might say.


Jesus’ unapologetic audacity

Didn’t come out of nowhere.

It was nurtured not only by the Holy Spirit

But by the very human struggle

And persistence and resilience

That he saw in his parents

Who raised him to love the lost and least,


Heedless of the cost.



I’m meditating, in awe, on the courage it takes

To say “Yes” in all your fragile vulnerability

When the Spirit asks something

So seemingly impossible

As bearing raw, naked love

Into a hostile world.


I’m marveling at resilience it takes to see that Yes through

The volatile incubation,

The tumultuous infancy,

The rough and tumble childhood,

All the birth pangs and growing pains.


I’m thinking about all the ways we talk ourselves out of the Yeses to the Spirit

When the future is shrouded in frightening uncertainty

When obstacles and forces of resistance

Loom larger in the imagination

Than all the wondrous possibilities.


Mary may not have known

That it would come to the cross,

But she knew that a sword would pierce her own heart,

And still for the sake of the joy

That can only come through struggle and grief,

For the sake of an aching world that needed her to,

She said Yes.


I wonder if Mary doubted,

Struggled, wrestled, wondered, feared…

Even as she mustered up the courage

To rejoice.


I look now for that courage in myself

As I hear the Spirit call…


For Christmas Eve is upon us,

And the Spirit of Love that grows within

Is ready to break through

Into this dark, frozen world.


Are we ready to bear God within us?

Are we ready to deliver hope and joy and love into a world

Of fear and hate and war?

In spite of all the excuses that nibble away at our courage,

Telling us we’re just not ready, not worthy,

Are we ready to defy the devils of doubt and insecurity

And bear our truest selves,

The unique imprint of Love that each of us is,

Into the world?


And are we ready to look out upon each and every human face,

And recognize that we are all Godbearers

Pregnant with the promise of new wonders

And on the verge of delivery?


Are we ready to be gentle, and kind, and reverent toward each other?

Are we ready to give the shunned and vulnerable

The fearless compassion and solidarity that Mary found

Only in the humble animals

On the night she gave birth?

Are we ready to see and nurture God in the helpless and unloved?

Are we ready to deliver Love into the places where we cannot find it

To nurture it in spite of the naysayers

Who maybe,

Just maybe,

Might be moved by example

To say Yes to the Love within themselves?

Are we ready to nurture Love,

That it may grow beyond what we can yet imagine,

And break through all the dead ends and barriers,

Even death itself?



You entrusted yourself to be born to a vulnerable girl

In a harsh and hostile world,

Because only when Love is born,

Can hostility cease.


As Christmas dawns upon the world,

Give us the courage of Mary,

The humility of Joseph,

And the faithfulness of your own Incarnate self in Jesus,

To see the light of hope pointing beyond our fears and doubts,

To shrug off the cares of reputation and respectability that hinder us from bold compassion.

To say Yes to the Spirit

Bear you into the world

And follow Christ in becoming

Love enfleshed.




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