‘Tis the season for Christmas posts, is it not? But instead of looking again at the manger scene, the ruthless dictator, or, God help us, a fat man in red, I’d like us to cast our minds back nine months – not back to March 2018, but back to nine months before The Original Christmas.
An angel appears to a young woman in the back-blocks and showers her with blessings, compliments, and a rather daunting proposition: mother to God in human form?
And who is she? She is, not to put too fine a point on it, nobody in particular. She has no position, no title, no fame; her fiancée’s just the local builder. She’s got a cousin who’s married to a priest, but that’s about as influential as the family gets.
But God decides that she’s just the right person to bring his Son into the world (not to mention bring him up), but does he just snap his fingers and make it happen? No. He sends an angel to tell her – and not just to tell her. No, the angel greets her as the important personage she doesn’t appear to be, answers all her questions, and then – waits.
Consider this carefully (and prepare to scrape your mind off the walls when it blows). This is God we’re talking about here – creator and sustainer of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient, omni-lots of things. Being omnipotent, he could just make it happen – but he doesn’t. Being omniscient, he could decide that she would be delighted to be of service, and just carry on – but he doesn’t.
This is the plan he has been carefully preparing for millenia, a plan so utterly unexpectedly mind-blowing that centuries of dropped hints will still leave people bowled over when it comes. This, it is not too much to say, is the axis of history, the point around which everything swings, the division between Before and After.
And it’s all waiting on this young woman’s consent. Because as important – as crucial – as all this is, God will not force it on her. And when she asks questions, she gets answers, because he wants an informed consent. The conversation is not over until she gives explicit verbal consent to God’s plan.
Why? Because that’s how God is. God is love, and love doesn’t force itself on anyone. He didn’t then, and he doesn’t now. Whether you’ve never spoken a civil word to him in your life, or whether you’ve been following him all your born days, he is still waiting for that yes. Every day, every moment, every choice – he waits for your consent.