And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
- Luke 1:34 – 37
In the Bible, the Holy Spirit is described as overshadowing. Specifically, in Genesis 1:2 we read that the earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
So in the beginning, this world was like Mary’s virgin womb. It was formless and empty. And the Holy Spirit overshadowed it. He hovered like a bird over the inky blackness and brought life into God’s new creation. He brought order out of the chaos and he filled the emptiness with fullness.
Luke tells us that in the months leading up to the birth of Jesus, the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary. That he hovered over her like he hovered over the waters at the beginning and brought about the miraculous again.
Most obviously, the Holy Spirit brought Jesus into Mary’s virgin womb. But the Spirit’s work didn’t stop there. As God the Holy Spirit hovered over Mary, he gave her supernatural strength, comfort, and courage.
Remember, Mary was about 15 years old when she became pregnant with Jesus. She was engaged to be married. She was living in a culture that didn’t smile on unwed women getting pregnant. And the virgin birth, while true, wasn’t exactly a believable story.
So without the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, Mary would have been overwhelmed by worry, fear and uncertainty. Without the Holy Spirit hovering, Mary would have said no to God’s calling. But because the Holy Spirit overshadowed, Mary said yes and became the mother of Jesus.
Certainly Mary’s experience of being overshadowed by God the Holy Spirit is unique. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t for us. Each of us needs the Holy Spirit to come upon us and to overshadow us. We need his presence to steady us as we wait for Jesus to come back for us. We need him to bring life into the dead parts of our souls. We need him to enter the emptiness of our lives to bring fullness. We need his peace to quiet the chaos around us. We need his power to work inside of us so that Christ can be born in us.
We can’t create new life on our own. We can’t overcome the fears that overwhelm. We can’t bring light to the dark places in our hearts. But when the Holy Spirit overshadows us, this and so much more takes place.
So this Christmas, be open to the Holy Spirit’s presence and power. In Romans 8:11 we read, the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you! In light of this reality, become aware of the Holy Spirit’s constant presence that guides you and gives you life.
Imagine today that Gabriel is speaking to you. The Holy Spirit has come upon you and his presence and power now overshadows you.
Now it’s your job to respond. To be open and to allow the Holy Spirt to permeate your life and impact everything.