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Reverend Melissa Remington: At Christmas and every day, God is with us

As a scientist, a mother of three and a pastor, I have always been fascinated by the miracle of life — the science of life and the science of God.

One of the best books on this subject is “The Language of God — Scientific Evidence for God,” by Dr. Francis Collins.

Collins was head of the human genome project that worked to unravel our human genetic code. That work led him to change from a non-believer to a believer in God.

The genetic code is the blueprint to our human makeup. As Collins studied our blueprint, he discovered he was learning the language of God!

Another good book on the subject is “The Science of God — The convergence of Scientific and Biblical Wisdom,” by Gerald Schroeder.

So it is with me. I had off and on been a doubter concerning God as our Creator and Jesus as our Divine Savior until studying biochemical evolution and embryonic development in graduate school at Stanford University.

It was in this scientific inquiry that I came face to face with the awesomeness of God with me — and with all of us as — our Creator and Savior.

The miracle of life — how we were created and are put together — reveals the presence of God with us and in us. The growth and birth of a new baby — a new human life — is incredible.

And yet, we seem to take it for granted. Signs of God’s incredible work, the realm of God, are all around us. But too often we do not have the eyes to see, the ears to hear or the heart to listen.

Mary, mother of God, listened. Joseph, earthly father of God, listened.

God is with us.

During Advent and Christmas, Christian scripture readings focus on God with us through the announcement of the birth of a son called Emmanuel, which literally means “God with us.”

We often read the story of the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to declare her the chosen one to give birth to the Son of God.

We heard this year the story of Joseph initially deciding to dismiss Mary quietly until an angel appears in his dream and says “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus (Matthew 1: 18-25).

Doesn’t this account seem at first too simplistic, if believable at all? As I ponder it against the backdrop of the theme of love, the miracle of birth, it becomes apparent to me that it took a lot of love and trust for Mary and Joseph to have their eyes, ears and hearts open enough to say yes to these angels, thus saying yes to God for new life.

Joseph had to have been both in love with Mary and also trusting in God to say yes to become Jesus’ earthly father under circumstances that culturally could result in incredible shame and marginalization.

Mary would have faced even greater shame, humiliation and possibly death by stoning. To say yes to God was incredibly brave, trusting and radical.

As we look to Mary and Joseph’s love for God and each other — to their ability to be willing to say yes to God — how are you being challenged to trust, believe and say yes to God such that you know God is with you?

For me, as a scientist, as a mother who gave birth to three children, as a priest and as a wife, I can connect to the need for a lot of love, trust and courage. It leaves me in awe and with incredible thankfulness.

I am thankful for the Marys and Josephs of this world who say yes to God, trust in God and remain steadfast in the face of pain and suffering to help us realize God is with us.

A parent’s love, a husband or wife’s love, along with trust and obedience to God’s law of love, yields a powerful connection and relationship to God.

The joy of Christmas has to do with making the connection to God’s gift of love. A love with origins more humble than one can imagine to the point of being unbelievable; yet, as we study the “science” of it, we realize is incredible and believable.

God’s gift of immeasurable love, the Christ child born in a manger by a young peasant girl surrounded by the barn animals, shepherds and hay, speaks to anyone in any station of life willing to listen.

It is an incredible mystery and yet, even for scientists like Schroeder and Collins who examine the science of God and the language of God, one can only hold in awe and conclude one thing: God is indeed with us. Alleluia.

The Rev. Melissa Remington is rector at St. Christopher Episcopal Church, Charleston.

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