Luke 1:46-48 (GWT)
46 Mary said, “My soul praises the Lord’s greatness!
47 My spirit finds its joy in God, my Savior,
48 because he has looked favorably on me, his humble servant.
“From now on, all people will call me blessed.” “Grace may be free, but it is never cheap. Miracles come at a cost.” So, enigmatically, says Mike Slaughter in Christmas Is Not Your Birthday (p. 10). His statement would appear to fly in the face of the oft-repeated proclamation about the unconditional, “no strings attached” Love of God – but perhaps, as Slaughter suggests, there are strings attached. Consider this metaphor: God offers without condition to each of us an endless series of seeds, or in the words of the Process Thinkers, “initial aims,” each seed unique to us, and each series of seeds unique to our life progression, together with the promise that each and every seed can bear a bounty of Beauty. Each seed is a possibility that carries with it the hope that the seed will unfold into an extraordinary reality – a miracle – but only if the bearer makes the sacrifice to recognize, embrace and nurture that seed.
Mike Slaughter talks of Mary’s predicament – she was, he surmises, alarmed, socially rejected, distressed about the future – but also her faith – her hope, steadfastness and utter joy magnifying God’s Love. He does not talk of the 9 months she bore the child in her womb, what may have been a difficult childbirth, and the time, energy and devotion spent nurturing her new offspring to the threshold of adulthood, tending the gift of God, recognizing, deciding for, and acting upon upon the seed miracle in her midst.
How many seeds have I failed to plant, make a half-hearted effort to nurture, poisoned through my own folly, or tended for a period of time and then left to wither on the vine? Oh, my, the number is countless. So many opportunities lost, so many unfulfilled possibilities, so many promises unkept! But there are two miracles here: first, that God unconditionally continues to convey to me, and to each of us, these unique possibilities or “initial aims,” which more traditionally could be described as the free gift of Grace (and indeed, the light at the end of every tunnel); and second, that each of us has the capacity to create extraordinary realities by recognizing, deciding for, and acting upon each of the embryonic miracles with which we are bequeathed, and which are brought to fruition by acts of Faith that are not free, but often come at a cost, sometimes an exceeding high cost. I ask: what greater miracles, or causes for hope, might there be?