Luke 1:35. And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
In yesterday’s reading we explored the majesty and mystery of the incarnation. The second person of the Godhead, the eternal Son, becoming flesh and dwelling among us. Why? Because God’s desire, his plan of salvation, is to dwell with us. To live his life in and through us as we manifest his presence on earth.
How? How does God do this? How does God manifest his presence with us? The angel tells Mary the answer, and it’s the same answer we’ve seen through all of history and all of scripture – by the Spirit.
What is the Spirit? In the Bible the Spirit of God is God. The third person of the Trinity. He is the manifested presence of God. The word Spirit and the word wind are the same Hebrew word (ruach). So the presence of God is usually seen as some form of rushing wind or hovering smoke.
- At creation – the Spirit of God hovers over the chaos bringing the life and light of God from out of the Word of God.
- In the Garden of Eden – the Spirit of God meets Adam and Eve in the wind or “cool of the day” (ruach).
- In Exodus – the Spirit of God blows and leads the people through the sea on dry ground.
- In the tabernacle and temple – the Spirit of God manifests his presence as smoke in the Holy of Holies.
- In Ezekiel’s prophecy- the Spirit of God departs from the defiled temple, but will one day return to a new glorious temple.
- In Joel’s prophecy – the Spirit will be poured out on all people as God returns to dwell with his people.
- At Pentecost – the Spirit of God is poured out upon the disciples as wind and fire. God’s presence dwelling IN the church.
But something’s missing from our list above, ins’t it? From Joel to Pentecost we jump from God’s Spirit in a physical temple to God’s Spirit in a human temple, the church. But how did we get there?
That’s where Mary and the birth of Jesus fill in our gap. God’s presence UPON Mary – the Holy Spirit is upon you – is God’s presence AS Christ – the child will be the holy Son of God. And God’s presence AS Christ will be God’s presence IN you and me.
Mountain top wind, tents and temples filled with smoke, these were never God’s final plan for dwelling with us. The Spirit of God IN us, conceived in us, growing in us, born of us, just like the Son of God in Mary, that is God’s plan for each of us who are in Christ.
The incarnation of Christ in Mary’s womb by the Spirit will give us the One, Jesus, who will secure our salvation by his bodily sacrifice. But God’s presence in Mary, by the Spirit of God, in the person of Jesus, is also a picture of what the incarnation has done for each of us in Christ. By the Spirit we, like Mary, receive the seed of God (1 John 3:9), that forms Christ in us (Gal. 4:19), until he is perfected in us (1 John 3:2).
Mary’s story is your story. She has found grace. And so have we. The grace of God’s Spirit coming to us and indwelling us. The presence of God in us. Not as rushing wind, smoke or fire. But as a cell. A growing seed. A life of love growing in grace in us.
Wind, smoke and fire scream, “stay away or you might be destroyed!” But a baby screams come close and love me. Come pick me up and hold me. The Spirit of God’s presence in us screams come close. It invites us without any fear of rejection to the God who would become a helpless infant.
An infant never turns you away. An infant never rejects your love. An infant never runs from you. And neither will God.
“To live is Christ” means we have the mighty rushing wind of God’s Spirit in us. But the incarnation tells us that that mighty whirlwind is now the simple breath of a baby. The Spirit that separated seas and rushed in and out of temples is now swaddled in the manger of our hearts. God’s presence now found in the welcoming grace of a baby. The power of our union with Christ now found in the humble faith of a child.
How do you see God’s presence in you? Mighty wind or humble child?
You in Christ
In Christ, God will never turn you away or reject your love. How does this melt your hard heart today?
Christ in you
Where do you need to display the humility of Christ today?
Playlist: Songs of Christ’s humble birth.