I don’t have the nerve to stand up on Christmas Eve and preach about the choreography of childbirth, but I wish I did.
I wish I had the nerve to preach about Mary’s increased estrogen production, a few days before birth (estrogen that will soften her cervix, and help her blood coagulate after delivery). I wish I had the nerve to preach about Mary’s and Jesus’ pituitary glands producing oxytocin, which in turn allows Mary’s contractions to accelerate.
This story is full of echoes—most famously, Mary's song echoes Hannah's. But there is another echo: Elizabeth's praise of Mary, which gets taken up into the Hail Mary, is an echo of Deborah's song in Judges 5.
God loves everything that God made, and God loves you especially, and the only way you can avoid that love is by deliberately removing yourself from it. That is how I want to preach this Gospel on Advent 3. John the Baptist tells us that we can, in fact, separate ourselves from love, and describes some of the ways how.
In response to John’s insistence that the ax is at the root of the tree, poised to cut down trees that don’t bear good fruit, three groups ask, “If that’s so, how then shall we live?”