For the past 2 years between Thanksgiving and Christmas following dinner we've read bible verses relevant to the birth of Jesus, starting with the prophecies in the old testament, and mercifully moving to their realization in the new testament.
Tonight we read Matthew 1: 18-25 and I realized that for most of my adult life I did not believe in the immaculate conception. It’s not that I doubted Christ’s divinity, it’s that I didn’t see the necessity for God to do biological intervention to make it happen. I considered the story necessary political propaganda used by the writers of the gospel to make a point in the only way it could be made in those days (of the “divinely lead” Roman Empire) – that our messiah was/is truly the son of God.
5 years ago this past Sunday I walked into church with no expectation of this intellectual position being melted like chocolate in the summer sun. The music leading into the sermon was a rendition of Amy Grant’s “Breath of Heaven” , a song I had never heard before, sung beautifully and authentically by a teenage daughter to the piano accompaniment of her father, the music director for the church. It made Mary’s experience very palpable to me, and suddenly the virgin birth rang true, in my heart more so than my head, but more powerfully in my heart than my head.
Still reeling from how moved I was by that performance, the minister then launched into a message about the miracle birth of Jesus that I never could have been more open to than I was in that moment.
I can’t remember why Stacy wasn’t with me that morning, but we met for lunch and she had news. We had been trying to get pregnant for several months and I was at the point where I had to wonder if God knew better than me what I needed, and that a child wasn’t what I needed. It was a crushing thought but I’d found myself unable to avoid thinking it in those days that lead to this day – the day she discovered she was pregnant.
We bribe our child’s attention each night with Hershey kisses per verse reading, and many times we have Christmas music playing in the background. Tonight, just before we read Matthew 1: 18-25 our Christmas playlist landed on Amy Grant’s rendition of her own song – a rendition that will never live up to version I first heard, on the day I realized we all come from God’s breath.