I am fascinated by the image of Mary in the Christmas story. I actually think that we Protestants underestimate her a bit. The Roman Catholics do a much better job of practicing a certain reverence toward Mary, the Mother of God. But those of the Orthodox tradition do it best. She is the subject of icons and other incredible images. She has hymns and liturgies and whole worship emphases. The Greek transliteration for Mary is Theotokos. In English, we just sort of loosely translate it as Mary, The Mother of God. But the literal interpretation of the title is “God-bearer”. What an incredible thing! What does it mean to be a “God-bearer”?

In our Western thinking, we either sort of accept the whole Virgin Birth phenomenon as part of our faith understanding or we fight it tooth and nail. To be honest, I guess I don’t get wrapped up in the whole thing. I mean…think about it…if you woke up tomorrow and there was proof that the whole virgin birth thing happened, what would it do to your image of God? And, conversely, if you woke up and some well-learned person had determined that there was proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus was NOT born of a literal virgin, what would it do to your image of God? For me, nothing either way. God still came in the most mysterious and miraculous way. More importantly, God came. God came and burst forth into our humanity in a way that we never could have imagined. And God still came and opened the door that we might glimpse the eternal. Isn’t that enough?

But whether or not Mary was a literal virgin, whether or not God somehow bypassed the whole law of human conception and whether or not we can really explain what happened, God came. And Mary agreed beyond a shadow of a doubt to become a womb for God, to become a God-bearer. For me, the point is not the virgin birth itself; it is rather that God came to someone who was virgin–pure, not violated by pre-conceptions, not influenced by something that came before, open to receiving. Mary, the God-bearer, showed us what it means to bear God. It means to become virgin. It means to become a womb. It means to be ready to receive Christ in the purest form. From that standpoint, aren’t we all called to be “God-bearers”?

So go forth and be a womb, be a God-bearer.

Grace and Peace,

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