At a Christmas Eve service years ago, the church we were then attending did a series of character scenes: a shepherd, Joseph, Mary, and so on. We were late and came in just before Joseph. Joseph's monologue had him talking about accepting what Mary had told him about carrying God's son, but he got stuck at the "no room in the inn" part.
If this was God's son, and if this was God's plan they were participating in, and if God was providing the way, marking the path, why wasn't there room for them in an inn? Why was God's gift to the world relegated to a manger? He voiced his frustration to Mary.
She responded, "Allow it."
I suppose the rest of the monologue went on to have Joseph reporting Mary's further explanation and encouragement to let God work out his plan in whatever way he wants and to trust him, but I stopped listening at "Allow it" and lingered there.
"Allow it," of course, calls to mind Mary's famous response to the angel Gabriel, ”Let it be to me as you have said,” with its strong note of agency. An unequivocal statement of active passivity. No bracing, straining, or plotting to change or avoid a thing but a nod of the head in assent. "Allow it" conveys a reciprocal arrangement, with the one allowing and the other asking, or not. While there are times to plan and push and knock down doors, there are also times to allow. To be like Mary is to know which time is which. "Allow it" moves in and out with the breath.
This scene was a fiction, not a reporting of a fact. There's no record in the Gospels of Joseph pushing back at staying in a manger and Mary calming him with a two-word response. But like all good stories it rings of truth.
May you be blessed by the many mysteries of Christmas Eve and all that it brought into play.
[Photo: taken of our Christmas tree]