St. John’s Episcopal Church
207 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401


  • If You Want – The Rev. Michelle Meech

    December 24, 2022


    If you want,
    the Virgin will come walking down the road
    pregnant with the holy,
    and say,
    “I need shelter for the night,
    please take me inside your heart,
    my time is so close.”

    Then, under the roof of your soul,
    you will witness the sublime intimacy,
    the divine,
    the Christ taking birth forever,
    as she grasps your hand for help,
    for each of us
    is the midwife of God,
    each of us.

    Yes there,
    under the dome of your being
    does creation come into existence eternally,
    through your womb,
    dear pilgrim—the sacred womb in your soul,
    as God grasps our arms for help;
    for each of us is His beloved servant
    never far.

    If you want,
    the Virgin will come walking down the street
    pregnant with Light and sing…

    — St. John of the Cross (1542-1591), rendered by Daniel Ladinsky, “Love Poems from God” (2002)


    It’s easy, I think, to distance ourselves from the story of Jesus’ birth, to only think of it as an historical happening. A woman named Mary was traveling with her husband Joseph during the time when she was pregnant and she gave birth in a place that was so grim and miserable that it was only meant for animals.

    We don’t know the historical accuracy of this, actually. But we hopefully understand the meaning of such a story – that worldly power is not the same as God’s power. God’s power is one that speaks through vulnerability and love – not through might and fear. So the only way we can truly come to know God is to surrender our own worldly power and privilege and be with – walk beside – tend to the most vulnerable.

    That is the Christmas story in a nutshell. That’s the whole lesson. It is, in fact, the throughline of the entire book of scripture that we have come to know as the Bible. Even the Easter story, which is about God not giving up on us… in our wrecklessness, in our arrogance, in our despair. Easter teaches us that God will never give up on us.

    Because what is possible, always, no matter how far we’ve moved away from God, no matter how badly we’ve lost the plot, no matter how many people we may have hurt or how self-centered we may have become… God knows that what is possible in us is Christmas.

    God knows what is possible in us is new birth. What is possible in us is to come to a place where we realize that we want to make room for a birthing. We want to make room for new light so that this light can shine in all the shadows of our own life. The things we may not like about ourselves, the things we may never want anyone else to know. God knows that we secretly do want to be known and seen and held as the vulnerable one we are.

    And so what is possible at Christmas is this space, this soft space, where we leave behind the pretense and the privilege and we kneel at the manger where we discover, along with all the others who have come to kneel alongside us, that there is another world.

    There is another way of being. One in which we can all put away the need to prove or own or have or not have. One in which we can soften because we know we will be met with compassion and we can truly see one another in our fullness, in our humanity, in our Love, which is God incarnate.

    Because if God can be birthed into the world in the middle of a noisy, smelly, filthy barn then there is room for our whole selves. And perhaps there is room for the faults of others too.

    So that if we want, in the words of St. John of the Cross… if we want… we become a midwife to the Light our soul so desperately wants to pour forth. We become a womb, even, where creation comes into existence because God is always needing to be born.

    For the people who are lonely.
    God is always needing to be born.
    For the people who have no home and whose home is not safe. For the people who cannot care for themselves.
    God is always needing to be born.
    For the people fleeing violence in their own countries and for the people creating violence in their own homes.
    God is always needing to be born.
    For the people who are trying to figure things out and the people who need a little help now and then. For the confused, for the self-righteous, for the estranged, for the addict, for the suffering, for the dying. For us.
    God is always needing to be born.

    So if we want Mary will come walking down the street pregnant with Light and sing…

    May you know this want this Christmas. For this want is the greatest gift we could ever receive.