One of the great joys and mysteries of pregnancy is imagining what that life growing inside of you might actually turn out to be. Will his hair be blond like mine was when I was a child? Will she love basketball like her daddy, or will she pick up Mama’s tennis racket? Will he be artistic and creative, or will he excel in math and science? What vocation will she choose? During those months as the belly stretches and the little movements inside strengthen and sharpen, there’s so much mystery about who that little person will become.

Mary, mother of Jesus, did know something about the child growing within her.  The angel told her that he would be God’s Messiah, the one that all of Israel had been waiting on. She knew. But when Mary said yes to that angel, did she have any idea what his life would really be like? Could she fully anticipate what she would have to endure as his mother?

Mary must have been completely flabbergasted that God had chosen her. She tried to make sense out of what made no sense. She asked just one question:  “How can this be?”

Barbara Brown Taylor confesses that if she had been in Mary’s spot, she would asked a whole string of questions:

Will Joseph stick around?
Will my parents still love me?
Will my friends stand by me, or will I be drug into the street and stoned?
Will the pregnancy go alright?
Will the labor be hard?
Will someone be there to help me?
Will I know what to do?
Will I survive his birth?[1]

But with all of the questions that must have been whirling around in her head, Mary simply said, “Here I am. Let it be with me.”

“Let it be with me…”  – this is how Mary said yes to God. It’s how she said yes to bearing the societal scorn of being pregnant before she married and to not being the most important relationship in her son’s life. It’s how she said yes to sticking by him on his truth-telling mission, despite the misunderstandings that would come. It’s how she said yes to remaining unacknowledged outside of a house where he taught and to standing at the foot of a cross.

We never quite know what we are getting into when we say yes to God. We, too, have questions to ask and choices to make, and as Taylor says, “Like Mary, our choices often boil down to yes or no. Yes, I will live this life that is being held out to me, or no, I will not. Yes, I will explore this unexpected turn of events, or no, I will not.”[2]

“We are all meant to be mothers of God,” wrote Meister Eckhart, a medieval mystic and theologian. “What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of God is begotten in us.” [3]

This Advent season, may we learn from Mary to say yes to God, and may we open ourselves to the possibility that God may be born in us.

Julie Long is associate director of Baptist Women in Ministry. 



[1] Barbara Brown Taylor, Gospel Medicine, 151.
[2]Taylor, 152.
[3] Quoted in Barbara Brown Taylor, Gospel Medicine, 153.