Not all Christian traditions recognize days like this, but today, March 25, is the Feast of the Annunciation: the day when the angel Gabriel came to announce (hence, annunciation) that Mary was God’s chosen vessel to bring Jesus the Christ into the world. (Do the math; it’s nine months before Christmas.)
Mary was, by any reckoning, an unlikely choice for this exalted task. Likely just 13 or 14 years old, poor and powerless, descended from salt-of-the-earth folks in Galilee, where people were known by their distinctive country accent. Yet Gabriel, the most exalted of angelic beings, comes to Mary so that through her, God could come to the world. It’s staggering.
Advent might not seem to have much or anything to do with today, but the Annunciation is a timely and shimmering reminder for us all. Mary was surely honored to be chosen for her vocation, but she was also chosen to suffer much (see Luke 2:35). She endured countless whispers and sideways sneers, and that was just the beginning, culminating in the unthinkable, excruciating ordeal of witnessing her son on the cross. Pierce her soul, indeed.
I think that’s why the Annunciation is so important – not just because it was so glorious (I mean, who can comprehend it?) but because it had the power to carry Mary through so much that was yet to come. It was like Gabriel saying, Here, you’re going to need this…
Would we ever believe it if someone told us all that was yet to come our way? Probably not. But we have, albeit borrowed, the Annunciation: the luminous word delivered by Gabriel, the word for Mary – and for us – that God is borne into the world through the unlikeliest of people, and that whatever suffering may befall us, it is worth it.
Here, you’re going to need this…
Bob Jacobs is Pastor of Westminster Church, Rapid City. He shares a deep commitment to see our community thrive in love for one another, especially in trying times like these. If you're interested in more of Bob's writings, check out his personal blog at www.brittlecrazyglass.wordpress.com.
Henry Ossawa Tanner, The Annunciation (1898), Philadelphia Museum of Art