The Presbyterian Church does a very complete job of digging deeply into the theological understanding and psyche of the pastoral candidates who are coming through the system. There is a requirement for regular meetings with the CPM (Committee on Preparation for Ministry), a psychological evaluation, and regular reporting of degree progress. During one of these interviews I had a question posed to me that has stuck with me to the point of eventually needing to study on the subject. The question that was posed was, “What does the virgin birth of Christ mean to your ministry?” I must admit that the question caught me off guard but quickly came to realize that the virgin birth of Christ played a minor role in my call into ministry. This is a very important understanding and belief in the faith of Christians but at that time was not a pivotal factor in my personal faith. In studying the first aspect that we can discover about the virgin birth of Jesus through Mary, is that her action is one of the ultimate servant. If it was not for the servant nature of Mary then the greatest servant we have ever known would not have existed. She gives the ultimate sacrifice in knowing that by being with child and not being married would expose her to the laws of her people and a great possibility of exile. Luke 1:38 gives us her response to the Holy Spirit, “May it be to me as you have said.” Her being a virgin makes this account even more incredible but the general public would have no reason to believe Mary carried the Savior. Mary’s servant nature is an important aspect of the birth of Christ but there’s got to be more. Being a servant is an important thing that Christ and Mary have taught us but the greatest gift that we received was actually found in the love of Christ and how Mary made this connection. Our clue to the connection of Mary is found in Luke 2:19, she then, “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” It is the love that Mary has for Christ before she receives the Word. St. Augustine, a fifth -century theologian states, “Mary conceived the Word (Christ), first in her mind and then in her body.” He then adds, “It would have been worth nothing to her to have carried Christ in her womb if she had not carried him with love in her heart.” Mary was a servant because she first loved her Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit came upon her because she was open to its embrace. The virgin birth is significant to our faith but not merely to be an example of servant – hood but rather as a pathway to the love of God for the people of God. We are called to embrace God’s love and then be the servants of that love.
Peace, Rev. Dr. Andrew Gifford