To Izaac, Zoe and Tricy,
So as we enter more deeply into this season of advent I wanted to look closer at this section of the creed because it clearly states what it is we are remembering and celebrating in this season: the incarnation. By the way, the incarnation simply means “enfleshment” or taking on of flesh… of “taking on carne” which in latin (and Tricy’s native Spanish!) means “meat.” It is all about the invisible God who made heaven and earth, who exists from all eternity past taking on human flesh and subjecting himself to all the challenges we face of getting tired, getting hungry, getting thirsty and experiencing all the different types of temptation we face. It is a mind blowing thought to think that God was fully one of us!
“I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ… who for us and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”
This mystery we celebrate during advent is crystallized in that short phrase: “incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” There are three obvious players in this scene: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Mary. Can you imagine what that must have been like for God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to be in be in conversation about this possibility? Can you just picture them deciding on this, resolving that God the Son would temporarily leave his eternal kingdom that is filled with beauty and joy and delights we can only speculate about and come to earth as a man, part of his very own creation? Imagine yourself writing a story or drawing a picture and then deciding you were going to fully enter your creation. Think about all the things you would have to give up to do that.
However, once the decision had been made, Jesus’ role seems mostly passive so its really up to the Holy Spirit and Mary to pull this off. And initially all Mary has to do is surrender to it. So the Holy Spirit is active in this creation in the same way She was active at the original creation. Remember that story where the Holy Spirit is brooding over the chaotic waters and bringing forth life. (The Creed later speaks of the Holy Spirit as the “Lord, the giver of life.”) In a way this is the same story. The Holy Spirit is brooding over Mary bringing life in her womb where Jesus will take shape as a human baby surrounded by a sack full of water. We don’t need to get into all the biology of this beautiful moment but its enough to say that the Holy Spirit is brooding over the waters again and bringing forth life.
So after this initial time of all these things happening to Mary, she then becomes the most active player in the story by carrying the very life of God – God himself! – in her body for nine months and experiencing all the joys and challenges of a normal pregnancy: excitement, nausea, a growing belly, bigger appetite, questions and fears of what it will be like to actually give birth…