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Christmas 2023

Christmas musings: “Tell God I say ‘YES’

We have arrived at the Good News and the mystery of the Incarnation. Having pondered that Living Love, that ancient, hidden, promised love; that homeless, lowly, hungry love; that gentle, tender, hopeful love; that suffering, boundless, mighty love, we are now in that place where we come face to face with the invitation to tell God “I say yes!” and become part of God’s ongoing incarnation.

In the mystery of the Incarnation, Thomas Merton writes: “God has embraced our poverty and our sorrow out of love for us, in order to give us God’s own riches and joy.” In today’s Christmas musings I find myself pondering the truth that God became one of us in order that we might become gods. If we really wish to see God we must now see God in each other. If we really want to be transformed into God’s likeness, we must love one another as God has loved us. The mystery of Christmas lays before us God’s call and our mission or duty to the rest of humanity and the world – that we who have seen the Light and know the love of God are to make known by our lives and our actions and our words that presence of God. God is born in us today in order that God may appear to the whole world through us. And not just on this day only, but every day.

How do we, as Christians, walk this earth as co-creators, persons in God’s image and likeness, who are trying to help God save the planet and everything on it? How do we become mothers of God? How do we fulfill our God-given vocations, and become part of God’s ongoing incarnation?

As I thought about these questions, I began to ponder one of the hymns in the new Hymn book, ‘Sing a New Creation’, Anglican Church of Canada. The hymn is called No Wind At the Window, hymn # 40, written by John Bell in 1992. It ends with the commitment “Tell God I say ‘YES’.

No wind at the window. No knock on the door. No light from the lampstand. No foot on the floor.
No dream born of tiredness; no ghost raised by fear: Just an angel and a woman and a voice in her ear.
“O Mary, O Mary, don’t hide from my face. Be glad that you’re favoured and filled with God’s grace.
The time for redeeming the world has begun, and you are requested to mother God’s Son.”
“This child must be born that the kingdom might come: salvation for many, destruction for some;
Both end and beginning, both message and sign; both victor and victim, both yours and divine.”
No payment was promised, no promises made; no wedding was dated, no blueprint displayed.
Yet Mary, consenting to what none could guess, replied with conviction, “Tell God I say ‘YES’.”

Tell God I say ‘YES’ – that is my deep desire as I enter the Festival of the Incarnation. I want to come home, to be made into a dwelling place for God, a place where God can be born.

In his book The Holy Longing Ronald Rolheiser writes: “The incarnation is not a thirty-three year experiment by God in history, a one-shot, physical incursion into our lives. The incarnation began with Jesus, and it has never stopped … God’s physical body is still among us. God is still present, as physical and as real today, as God was in the historical Jesus. God still has skin, human skin, and physically walks on this earth … We are the body of Christ … God takes on flesh so that every home becomes holy, every child becomes the Christ-child, all food and drink become a sacrament … God’s many-faced face has become as accessible, and visible as [the person next to you].”

Macrina Wiederkehr in her book “A Tree Full of Angels” has written a beautiful poem called ‘A Magnificat for Coming Home’ – this Christmas what we are all really longing for, what the world is longing for, is to come home to this truth, God with us, God in us, God in each other. I share this poem with you:

O Most Creative One, ever bringing me to new life. O Most Powerful One, empowering me for life’s journey.
O Indwelling One, calling me to my Centre. O Beloved One, loving me as I am.
Have you noticed that I’m coming home? I have seen you, the All-Seeing One who sees me,
I can remain away from home no longer. I just want to be there in you who are in me,
For I have heard your call, “make your home in Me” I can stay away from home no longer.
My soul proclaims the wonder of your friendship. My spirit is weeping within me for joy.
My heart spills out in tears with delight. They mix with my joy, and I tremble,
Feeling totally claimed by your love.
You showed me that your home was within me, that living in me was your joy.
I wept still more tears at the thought of you in me and I in you,
A dwelling place I am, I kept saying. A home for the God of my life.
My soul has turned into heaven, I am little and great all in one.
And then from within me, your voice came, giving me a name that was new.
Little-Great-One, you called out, come closer. Little-Great-One, Beloved, Come home.
Come home to the self I keep loving. Come home to the truth that you are.
Little-Great-One, you called out, Come closer. Little-Great-One, you kept saying, Come home.
You came with your all to my nothing, with such reverence you called out my name.
You lifted me back into my poverty, the littleness I was trying to escape.
Embracing that poverty, I felt wealthy. I was free at last to be great.

Tell God I say yes. I want to be a home for God. I choose to say, “Here I am, let it be with me according to your word”. I want to be one more Theotokos who is willing to bear God into the world. And with Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic and theologian, I want to say “what good is it to me if this eternal birth of Jesus takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to Jesus if I do not also birth God in my time and my culture?”

Can we hear anew this Christmas God’s words to us: “Greetings, favoured ones! You are beautiful with God’s beauty, inside and out, God is with you. Do not be afraid. For nothing is impossible with God.”

We need to become mangers for the One yearning to be born: this Christmas may you be cradled in Love, wrapped in Peace, and born to bring Hope, and may these to be gifts that you bring to others.