Last Christmas, I was, like Mary the mother of Jesus, “great with child” (Luke 2:5). Expecting a baby during the season Advent is for many Christian women a holy time. Our bodies are creative forces, churning with life and hope and possibility. Our feet may be swollen and sore, and we may be dying for a cup of coffee or glass of wine, but many of us also feel a kinship with Mary as we witness and display the generative power of God.

During this season, church services often celebrate the expectant Holy Mother and include a recitation of Luke 1:46-55, known as “the Magnificat,” or “My Soul Magnifies the Lord.” Church tradition holds that Mary sang this song after her pregnant (and much further along) relative Elizabeth famously proclaimed, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

For many, this passage is a part of Advent’s wonder. A young woman has been given a miracle to carry within her body. The son of God and son of humanity—who takes away the sins of the world, destroys the power of death, frees captives, and establishes his everlasting peace and justice upon the earth—resides in the womb of a virgin. What could be more extraordinary than that? As a girl, I could not have imagined a greater marvel.

Many would argue that a virgin conceiving by divine order tops everyone’s pregnancy story. But for me and many other women like me, our understanding of the Incarnation is shaped by the ...

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