Feast of the Annunciation
Greetings, favored ones! An angel came to Mary. And it’s always Mary I tend to focus on in this iconic story: the surprise she must have felt; the courage she mustered; the magnitude of her “Yes.”
But our text from Isaiah this morning instead leads me to the angel. Gabriel shows up, unexpected and uninvited, to announce to a young girl the news that will change her life and change the course of all creation. The angel announces peace, brings good news, announces salvation: the Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God! I don’t know if angels get nervous—I don’t know what their job security is like, particularly when the redemption of the world hangs in the balance—but surely Gabriel must have felt a thrill, said a quick prayer, held his breath for just a moment while he waited for Mary’s “Let it be.”
In this story Mary is of course an example to us; but so, too, is Gabriel. It’s right there in the baptismal covenant that we will each renew at Easter: Will you proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ? I will, with God’s help. Will you proclaim it when you are unexpected and uninvited? Will you proclaim it to a world that may not pay attention: that may not care? Will you proclaim it even when to do so makes you feel vulnerable? Will you proclaim the Good News of God in Christ no matter how absurd or foolish it may seem? And when the world asks, “How can this be?” what account will you give for the hope that is in you?
An angel came to Mary. And Mary said yes, but first the angel had to tell her the Good News.
Pour your grace into our hearts, O Lord; that we who have known the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, announced by an angel to the Virgin Mary, may by his cross and passion be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
P.S. My friend Jody snapped the above photo on June 9, 2012, the day I was ordained a deacon. A few weeks later a friend gave me a copy in a small frame with the words from Isaiah 52 this morning inscribed on the mat: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation…” What a good reminder of our baptismal call.